Ollin Magnetic Digiscoping System

Starting Late in Life

Yeah, times have definitely changed. I went on a little tirade at a party about feed lot cattle and plastic wrapped steaks and antibiotics and all that, and pretty much emptied out the room. Maybe some prairie dog canapés?
Well, it might be more about how you go about it. In any event, lots of faculty hunt and shoot. As many as any other profession in my experience.
 
Welcome from another adult-onset hunter. I don’t have very many peers who hunt, but most people seem to appreciate the organic, range-to-table approach for getting meat. It was especially persuasive during the pandemic shutdown when I provided friends with venison and pork from my freezer.
 
Well, it might be more about how you go about it. In any event, lots of faculty hunt and shoot. As many as any other profession in my experience.
Yes, my wife has made similar observation. No one likes a rant, no matter what it's about.
 
Welcome, I am new here as well. There is a wealth of knowledge here and a few jacks of all trades!! I am 52 and retired. I am going on my first elk hunt this year in Montana. These guys have helped me alot already. Good Luck
 
Let me introduce myself. I'm a total newbie hunter, despite being about to turn 60. I've read 99 pages on this forum so far, literally - out of 536 - and feel like I've learned so much. Thank you all for your wisdom. I'm semi-retired, and a devoted fly fisher. I've been snooping around the edge of hunting for the past 20 years and am now taking the plunge.

My wife and I are both professors at a liberal arts college, and no one we know hunts, and most people are just totally hostile to the idea if we mention it. I didn't come from hunting people either, so there's no history here. Total newbie rubes.

Last year we did a Backcountry Hunters and Anglers course, which, among other really useful things, included breaking down an elk (this was a really great program). We're down to our last few packs in the freezer, so things seem a little desperate, now that we've gotten a taste for it. The next month we got a late antelope tag for the eastern plains of Colorado - our home state - and went out with our binoculars and a spotting scope, and our new .308, to do some scoping, maybe some hunting if the opportunity was there. We left the gun in the car, but learned a lot over the two days we were out there, including why they call them speed goats. Now here we are and we've got a 4th season antlered elk rifle tag for units 59 and 581 (as well as an antelope tag where we went last year). I've read enough to know that these are tough, crowded units, but they border our little property and we've decided to commit to knowing a local area, and it doesn't get much more local than this for us (I can see 59 from top of our property).

I'm ready to start scouting - I've got lots of time at the moment. I've spent a good bit of time e-scouting, read everything I can, but I know that only gets you so far, and boots on the ground is the way to go. So boots it is. About ten years ago when we took up fly fishing it was a really steep learning curve, but eventually, after many, many miles and many fishless days we started catching fish. We found that focusing on a couple stretches of river was the way to go, and now we feel like we really, really know these stretches, know the bugs and the hatches, know the seasons. It's been really gratifying. We intend to follow the same method, and fully expect to spend many days and many many miles walking and looking. If we harvest an animal at some point we'll consider that a bonus. I'd consider it a victory to just see a few elk.

I really just wanted to check in, say hello. I hope we're not crazy for settling on these units, but we can depend on the leftover draw and OTC to give us the chance to hunt these units every year, and in the process we'll accumulate enough points to try another unit.

We've been hiking these areas several times a week for almost a decade, but that's on trails. So here's my initial question: should we just pick an area that looks promising on the topos and Google Earth, and bushwack? Find game trails? This is steep, timbered forest. What's the best way to go about getting to know a piece of land? I imagine we'll have to find ways to get away from all the people who hike and hunt in here, but first I'd like to start to get to know the terrain. Any tips would be great. I went out earlier in the week and did five miles on a trail, poked off trail a little, but mainly just wanted a first look. It's all intimidating, but we're in it for the long term, so we'll work through what seems like just mystery to us.

I'm really starting this as a place to keep track of our progress. Thanks for reading.
If I were you I’d take up pickleball. Hunting out west is such an assache. I mean it. But it’s really pretty simple. Walk a lot. If you kill something do it when it’s cold outside. The only thing holding everything together is the esophagus and asshole. Pull everything out between the two and put it in a tree. Don’t buy anything special. Hunting is just a bunch of hiking and frustration punctuated by a moment of joy before the reality of what you have done to yourself settles in. It’s stupid, but I do like it a lot. Oh yeah, and get the big gun, it only hurts when you practice
 
We've been hiking these areas several times a week for almost a decade, but that's on trails. So here's my initial question: should we just pick an area that looks promising on the topos and Google Earth, and bushwack? Find game trails? This is steep, timbered forest. What's the best way to go about getting to know a piece of land? I imagine we'll have to find ways to get away from all the people who hike and hunt in here, but first I'd like to start to get to know the terrain. Any tips would be great. I went out earlier in the week and did five miles on a trail, poked off trail a little, but mainly just wanted a first look. It's all intimidating, but we're in it for the long term, so we'll work through what seems like just mystery to us.
I'm sure everyone else on here will thoroughly answer any questions you have, it's a great community. My $.02 is to make the important distinction between hiking and scouting, time of day and actively looking for game are the big distinctions. While many hikers take advantage of the cool mornings and evenings, not too many are donning headlamps to get to a particular location to look for animals before the sun comes up and staying out until dark. A lot of the areas you have been hiking and are familiar with may be game rich environments but you may just not have been there at the right times or been paying enough attention to specifically looking for animals.
 
Hey @COProfs , welcome to the hunting community. I think you’re headed in the right direction, and I wish you the best of luck.

In my years of hunting CO, I’ve always found the Colorado Hunting Atlas to be a very helpful tool. I don’t have any experience with your chosen units, but the Atlas can really get you started as you focus your scouting. I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

 
So here's my initial question: should we just pick an area that looks promising on the topos and Google Earth, and bushwack? Find game trails? This is steep, timbered forest. What's the best way to go about getting to know a piece of land?
I have limited experience, but here’s a few things I’ve learned:

-Understand elk biology and elk behavior and you can locate elk from a map without ever setting foot in a GMU. Watch all Randy Newberg and Cory Jacobson’s elk scouting videos on YouTube. If you want a more streamlined format, purchase the Elk101 online course. If you are willing to shell out some more change ($450) the WMI elk ecology book is probably the best printed resource available.

-The most similar animal to post-rut bull elk IMO are non-migrating Canada geese. They will move miles to avoid being harassed by human predators, and then form a pattern of eating, sleeping, and loafing, repeated for days or weeks.

-Combining the first two items, if you can answer these questions, you’re off to a good start: Where’s the elk’s food source? Where does he bed? Where is he safe from hunters? Mark up a map of the unit and eliminate areas easy for hunters to access, areas without food, and areas too steep/rough for elk. Once you get the knack of it, 90-95% of the map is crossed out and you can identify maybe a half dozen promising-looking small areas to scout in person.

-There are many strategies for spying a bull during hunting season, but a good glassing location where you can view multiple feeding places a bull could be departing at dawn or entering at dusk can save you some boot leather.

I’d be happy to look over your e-scouting map and give you feedback if you send me a DM.

Have fun!
B9149715-62DD-44F1-8A1F-370CBD357C9B.jpeg
8F421186-4CDD-4BF1-9D62-CEB346C50677.jpeg
 
You need to make new friends. Great places to do it are gun shops and local rod and gun clubs. I am not trying to demean the friends you already have just that with new interests you need newer friends. I wish you well in your new found hobby. You are about to open up a whole new world by integrating yourself into natures oldest way to feed the family.
 
I'm self taught, started late in life, and have had a very high success rate.
Finding any boots on the ground info you can (from other forum members, people that live in the state, or scouting earlier in the year yourself) is going to be a major driver in success.
Then, glass, glass, glass. You're better off spending half the trip in your car driving around to good glassing spots than over committing to one drainage, and blowing all your time and energy on 4 days of hiking where game may not be.
Find the animals first - then make and execute an aggressive plan to get after them.
 
I strongly support your plan for starting in your backyard GMU. It makes a massive difference if you know the terrain, even as a hiker. A middle-of-the-range GMU that you know well, is a much better proposition than a stellar GMU where you don't even know the roads. It's also nice to sleep in your own bed and still be able to be in a good position before sunrise. Most new hunters are so tired and stressed with camping and altitude and terrain, that they start giving up quickly after the energy of the first couple of days is gone.

Don't underestimate how much help you can get from your local folks, once they get over that the high-falutin' Profs are actually hunters (check my handle :)). They won't give up their honey holes, but they may help a lot with access. IMHO the absolute best hunting is public land on the edges of private fields, in places where you need landowner access (or deep local knowledge) to get onto the public land without hiking for 10 miles.

It's been said by others above, but I will emphasize - walk less, glass more. Get out before first light and stay out till dark. Don't pay too much attention to every little elk sign, but look for recent signs of sustained elk presence in numbers. Keep moving until you can't take a step without stepping in fresh elk poop, then you're in the right place.

Apologies if this sounds a bit hectoring, I'm just trying to be succinct. Good luck and keep us informed!
 
Starting in your backyard unit is a great option. The easier it is to get afield the more likely you will be to do it. Elk will move about with the seasons, Understand where you find them in September likely wont be the case in November.

With that said go afield early mornings in September listen for bugles in those tucked away drainages. Hike through Roadless and trail less areas (people really do not like leaving trails & elk know it), If the sign is fresh you will smell it! Look at maps after locating elk, read the flow of the terrain and drainages where will those elk likely migrate to once weather hits. Reading terrain is similar to reading water You're looking at habitat that suits needs for the target species. What ridges are in route to where you have seen wintering elk in your area vs where you may have bumped elk camping in summer.

Glass when possible, I love boots on the ground, to see things from a up close perspective but time is a finite resource; Glassing can save lots of time locating which areas hold critters vs void of critters be start at first light. I have found elk love bedding on slightly north facing benches directly behind a south or east facing slope. They can mosey into timber and be in the cool shade shortly after sun up all the way until evening!
Best of luck
Elk are tough but rewarding!
 
I'm sure everyone else on here will thoroughly answer any questions you have, it's a great community. My $.02 is to make the important distinction between hiking and scouting, time of day and actively looking for game are the big distinctions. While many hikers take advantage of the cool mornings and evenings, not too many are donning headlamps to get to a particular location to look for animals before the sun comes up and staying out until dark. A lot of the areas you have been hiking and are familiar with may be game rich environments but you may just not have been there at the right times or been paying enough attention to specifically looking for animals.
Thanks for this. Yeah, I'm realizing pretty quickly that hiking is a very different sort of activity. I think I have this idea that since I see a lot of animals when I hike, I must be pretty good at finding them. Ha, not so much. I've totally been willing to get out in the cold before dawn for trout, but that seems so tame compared to what it's going to take to find elk. I'm willing. At this point I realize just how much I don't know what "elky" even looks like, other than what I see in all those youtube videos, and I'm learning that those are only of limited value. Anyway, thanks for the comments.
 
If I were you I’d take up pickleball. Hunting out west is such an assache. I mean it. But it’s really pretty simple. Walk a lot. If you kill something do it when it’s cold outside. The only thing holding everything together is the esophagus and asshole. Pull everything out between the two and put it in a tree. Don’t buy anything special. Hunting is just a bunch of hiking and frustration punctuated by a moment of joy before the reality of what you have done to yourself settles in. It’s stupid, but I do like it a lot. Oh yeah, and get the big gun, it only hurts when you practice
Oh, man, I just hate pickleball - or really just the idea of it - so that's not going to work.
 
I have limited experience, but here’s a few things I’ve learned:

-Understand elk biology and elk behavior and you can locate elk from a map without ever setting foot in a GMU. Watch all Randy Newberg and Cory Jacobson’s elk scouting videos on YouTube. If you want a more streamlined format, purchase the Elk101 online course. If you are willing to shell out some more change ($450) the WMI elk ecology book is probably the best printed resource available.

-The most similar animal to post-rut bull elk IMO are non-migrating Canada geese. They will move miles to avoid being harassed by human predators, and then form a pattern of eating, sleeping, and loafing, repeated for days or weeks.

-Combining the first two items, if you can answer these questions, you’re off to a good start: Where’s the elk’s food source? Where does he bed? Where is he safe from hunters? Mark up a map of the unit and eliminate areas easy for hunters to access, areas without food, and areas too steep/rough for elk. Once you get the knack of it, 90-95% of the map is crossed out and you can identify maybe a half dozen promising-looking small areas to scout in person.

-There are many strategies for spying a bull during hunting season, but a good glassing location where you can view multiple feeding places a bull could be departing at dawn or entering at dusk can save you some boot leather.

I’d be happy to look over your e-scouting map and give you feedback if you send me a DM.

Have fun!
View attachment 287889
View attachment 287888
Wow, thanks for the advice and encouragement (and the awesome photos). I'm beginning to get that what I really should be looking for as summer winds down is places to glass, not necessarily what I think is sign. That's helpful. I'm also realizing that I'm going to have to learn some patience, as in the ability to just sit and look, and that's going to take some serious work. When I get a little more experienced with reading topo lines and drainages online I will definitely take you up on your offer. Right now I don't really even know what I'm look for, but I have this stack of books to read....
 
You need to make new friends. Great places to do it are gun shops and local rod and gun clubs. I am not trying to demean the friends you already have just that with new interests you need newer friends. I wish you well in your new found hobby. You are about to open up a whole new world by integrating yourself into natures oldest way to feed the family.
That's what my wife says. Actually, she says I need to make some friends, period.
 
I'm self taught, started late in life, and have had a very high success rate.
Finding any boots on the ground info you can (from other forum members, people that live in the state, or scouting earlier in the year yourself) is going to be a major driver in success.
Then, glass, glass, glass. You're better off spending half the trip in your car driving around to good glassing spots than over committing to one drainage, and blowing all your time and energy on 4 days of hiking where game may not be.
Find the animals first - then make and execute an aggressive plan to get after them.
I'm getting the "glass glass glass" message consistently here. I'm supposed to be getting ready to teach in a few weeks, but instead find myself obsessively reading posts here and pretty much anything else I can. Learning a lot, but also learning just how much I have no clue about. So thanks for the advice and encouragement.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
110,386
Messages
1,918,034
Members
34,727
Latest member
Clifford Radcliffe
Back
Top