Unit 20

Gun Dog

New member
Sep 8, 2002
Anyone have anything on Colorado unit 20? I have been thinking about the Dec or Jan late hunts for bulls in that area. Have plenty of points but not sure where to go. What is the hunting pressure at that time. What about wall tenting that time of year. I looked around there one summer but now may be getting serious.
19 and 20 are on the front side of the Park...way too much pressure in there for my blood. The Front Range is that way though. The late season can be a sure nuff line shoot if you hit it right......catching the elk from the Park migrating out for winter.

I here folks that do well....but for everyone of them, 10 that don't.
But if you are on a pricey hunt, as far as a bunch of points, you'd have to be in limited pressure so it may be good for you.

I would spend my points some where other than the front range though.....
Gun Dog:

You can't hunt inside Rocky Mountain National Park and the elk herd is over objective. So the DOW issues tags for the late hunts hoping that they will migrate to lower elevation out of the park. The problem is that there is a lot of private land mixed in with the public land, east of the park. The elk naturally head for the areas where you can't hunt them.

Unless you know someone who owns land there or an outfitter who has access to the private land, I would look elsewhere.

Gun Dog, I've hunted 20 many times (that's where I grew-up). Like DS said, it's on the Front Range, which is close access and, for that reason, lots of people (the main reason why you can only get tags for 20 through the draw).

I've hunted "late" season there 3 or 4 times. There is less people/pressure then (because there's only 100 bull tags for it then), that does make it the best time to hunt that area.

As KC pointed out, the reason for 'late' season is to get a harvest on the "park" herd. By having season so late, the plan is that the deep snow will have caused the park herd to migrate to lower elevations (so it's dependent upon the snow --like most elk hunting-- and in Jan of last year, there wasn't much).

Even though the pressure is lighter, there's still lots of competition for the tags (with only 100 bull tags, a person needs at least 3 preference points to even have a chance at getting a tag). I'm sure you've noticed that there are 3 late seasons this year, 1 in Nov, 1 in Dec, and 1 in Jan; however, although they added a season, they shortened the other 2.

The Jan season seems to be the most popular (it gets the most applications). Due to scheduling constraints, I plan on hunting the Nov season this year. I put in for a cow tag this year, so my odds are pretty good (300 per season).

I don't know anything about "wall tenting," DS is the man-in-the-know there. Are you a resident or a non-resident, how far are you having to travel?

If I can give you any other help/advice, shoot me an e-mail or IM.

Best of luck on your hunt

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 03-11-2003 21:48: Message edited by: RANDALL K ]</font>
I hunt with my dad and two of his friends who are all retired. My cousin and I are the mules of the bunch. We all have 8 or 9 points and my cousin has 3. We apply as a group so 3 is the one. We don't really want the slaughter line or to hunt like shooting cows out of a pasture. We usually hunt out of tents. This is on our own. Cant afford the guided ones. We are looking at different areas but it is hard to apply blind in a new area. I was in Estes Park a few years ago. Everyone I talked to including the DOW acted like I was nuts in wanting to hunt elk. The map would show a road into public land and there would be a gate accross. When I asked the person who lived close by they said no that is not a road there is no public land around here. The DOW said well it is but it seems very anti hunter around there. The only warm response was from the land owners who wanted me to open up a bank account.
I hunted unit 20 last year for a late season cow.. I got the same treatment. The dow's game warden wouldn't return my calls. The land was marked private land everywhere where it was suppose to be public. You'd literally see the national forest sign right next to a private land sign saying no hunting.. Also the roads that were suppose to be closed but some locals thought it would be fun to drive them anyways..It was not the greatest of experiences.. And to top it off. There was very little snow so no elk. Also my knee was torn up from the regular rifle season and my dad slipped on ice and jacked his elbow up. So we only hiked all of a mile in. As you can tell we weren't highly motivated..plus to see some dang idiots go driving by us on a "closed" road was pretty disappointing.
I'm not impressed with the job the Colorado DOW has done since '95 (when CO lost their spring bear season, and a few years later CO lost the use of leg-hold traps
--which put a very serious financial crunch on some good friends of mine). In more recent years I've read about some of their political "spin," which I also don't agree with --but that's another topic.

It doesn't surprise me that they won't return your calls (I caught them "red handed" in a mistake once, they didn't correct it, and ignored it --hoping it would go away). I've also seen, and hunted public land that was illegally posted, there's lots of "anti's" around Estes
(just remember, when someone "illegally" post public land, they're betting that you don't know any better and that the words on the sign will confuse/influence you

Posting public land, or interfering with legal hunting, is a direct violation of "written" law in CO. If someone post land, that you believe to be public, go to the county tax-assessors office, pull the plats, and check it out (I've done it more than once)! If it's public, contact the local BLM office to find out if anyone has an all-rights lease on the land, if it's "open range," then I don't give a "rat's tu-tu" what sign someone has put up, if I'm legal and that's where I need to be, that's where I'll be. And if they show-up and want to debate it, I'll meet them at the sheriff's office

Granted, to do that takes time that a non-resident hunter may not have, only the individual can decide if it's worth their time & effort to thoroughly check it out. It's always to your benefit to know the area, it's ownership, and the applicable laws.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 03-12-2003 22:43: Message edited by: RANDALL K ]</font>
In Ested Park, they complain about all the elk wandering through town, disrupting gardens, parks, and golf courses... but by golly, you sure can't shoot them! That would be wrong!
Randall K,

You make some good points about them posting it illegally, that's just what my friend said!
Yeah I've busted the DOW a few times making errors..I've emailed them asked them a question and saved the responce. I was stopped by a game warden and he said I was hunting illegally and I showed him the email. He said it was wrong but since I had proof he'd "let" me hunt..Had I not had that I would have gotten a ticket and maybe my hunting privleges taken away.. Just like this last year I drew a tag. then couldn't make the hunt so i turned it in. They asked if I wanted my refund or a leftover/over the counter tag.. I said do I get my pref points back they said yes, cause you didn't use the tag..This was at the Dow headquarters in Denver. I said give me a leftover then. Well as I have now found out.. Nope you don't get your pref points back if you turn in your tag and get another tag or your money.. you have to LET THEM KEEP THE MONEY.. So its all about money for them.. I am pretty much fed up with the DOW...


I heard a little while back that the Rocky Mountain National Park is going to try to let some limited hunting go on. Outside the city limits of course. and I think it would be for cows and by archery only. I hope this happens. Those elk are going to start starving in good numbers.
My guess is that there will be a long, hard battle before Estes Park lets any culling go on there. And if they finally do, I'll bet it will be government shooters. We'll see...

Gun Dog, that would be tough to burn 8-9 points on that hunt. You could probably do better elswhere.

I, too, hope RMNP implements a hunt. I have my doubts, though. Can you imagine the public outcry when park visitors start seeing dead elk being hauled out of the woods?
I recall the park being as concerned for the aspen in the park as for the health of the elk. Seems the elk are killing off all those trees.
Ya I sure don't want to burn those points if it is not going to be a good hunt. Maybe I should wait and look for a better area. It is just that the one in our group only has 3 built up. ALSO I can not go During the October season this year so instead of missing a year I thought of trying a late hunt.
I live and hunt in unit 20, probably know it as well as anyone (25 years hunt exp). Have taken some 300-350+ bulls there on a handful of occasions. As a whole the quality of elk sucked last year. Most mature bulls had weak 5th points. There were very few inside the city limits or the national park that I'd consider keepers. Big bulls were hard to come by. With good moisture this spring we could see a pretty good dose of good bulls. There is actually tons and tons of public land and its relatively easy to get away from crowds if you are willing to get off the roads. As far as snow pushing elk out of the park, it will never happen. The public land around the park and Estes is higher, so if anything when it snows alot the elk migrate INTO the city for the most part. Go there anytime during a heavy snow year. Where do you find most of them? In peoples yards and on the golf course. There are some drainages to the south of Estes that funnel to the east that elk use as migration routes. There are a good deal of elk if you catch them in the funnel areas during the late seaons. Remember, there are 100's of elk outside the park and the city limits, they don't just reside in that area. All that being said, I don't know if its worth 3-4 points this year but that remains to be seen. Good luck. Email me if you need specifics....

Do you live there?


Thanks for responding. I am keeping options open but who knows. I have hunted unit 161 for about 5 years and won't go back. Every year it was should have been here the first season, the next well the last season. I never hit it on the good time ever and got tired of no elk. In fact I really questioned if any elk even lived there anymore. I started thinking boy here I am hunting in an area for elk and none even live here. I know there were elk somewhere but really feel there were not very many. Then I hear the DOW shot a bunch over the hill to test for CWD before the season. If that was true I would be pretty up set that they didn't tell us. Also Why do that before the season? Let us shoot them and pay the test. Sounds like our DNR here.
Gun Dog... Elk live in 161. Maybe not as many as in other units, or they are way up in the Zirkles, but they are there (did we converse via email about this last year? can't remember if it was you). I've killed 5 elk in 5 years there. But, now that it's a CWD unit, I may go elsewhere this year. I'm still going this year for deer, though. Got enough pref points are there are some monster bucks in there.

No I don't live in unit 20. Deeking does though and he knows that unit very very well. He can help you the most I'd say. Good luck.
Todd, Ya we talked last year. I am still not sure what I am doing. I can't go in October this year and November is our deer season so I was thinking about a late hunt. I gotta get going though as time is running out to apply.

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