Caribou Gear

What would you do...and why?

authentichunter

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Joined
Dec 9, 2015
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62
Location
Orem, Utah
I am currently planning my October 2016 rifle elk hunt. Presently, I intend to hunt an area I am familiar with, but I plan to hunt this area with a new strategy. I have hunted this area six times over the years and know the area fairly well. It is a good area. There are a lot of elk and if it were not for (1) youthful exuberance and equipment malfunction, (2) a terrible guess, and (3) a near death experience I would be batting .500 in this area. Yet, I also know the drawbacks of the area, i.e. roads and people. Therefore, after a prolonged absence, I have decided to return to the area this fall with a new strategy and approach: the Randy Newberg "no hunting within a mile of a road or motorized trail" strategy.

Using the tools provided by Google Earth, along with the OnX Hunt 3.0 app, I have identified four zones within this area that do not contain any roads or trails open to motorized vehicles. Furthermore, the boundaries to these zones are at least one mile from the nearest road or trail open to motorized travel. The four zones are:

Zone A: A 39,000 acre high altitude parcel comprised of four adjacent drainages. Zone A contains open ridges, parks, timber, and abundant water. Zone A is surrounded by public land and is closed to livestock grazing.

Zone B: A 1,000 acre densly timbered parcel primarily comprised of a plateau. Zone B contains three canyons, some small parks, one partially open hillside, several springs, and some pockets of aspens. Zone B is surrounded by public land and is open to livestock grazing.

Zone C: A 3,000 acre parcel comprised primarly of a large plateau featuring large aspen stands and sagebrush flats. Zone C contains several canyons, dense timber, water, and open hillsides. Zone C borders private land on one side, is open to livestock grazing, and is heavily used for cattle grazing.

Zone D: A 700 acre parcel comprised of four small canyons and three ridges. Zone D contains a portion of a densly timbered canyon, several open ridges and hillsides, three aspen lined canyon bottoms, and two springs. Zone D is surrounded by public land and is open to livestock grazing.

When I initially began planning for this hunt I fully intended to hunt Zone A exclusively. It is big, remote, and provides excellent glassing opportunities. In addition, I discovered an interesting "Internet scouting" trick that revealed Zone A's promise. However, of the four zones, I am least familiar with Zone A. Therefore, I decided to call the local wildlife biologist for the area to discuss my plans.

When I first called the local fish and game office the staff told me that the biologists create reports for various areas in the office's region. The staff suggested that I review the report for area I was considering, and, after reviewing the report, if I had any additional questions they would put me in touch with the biologist for the area.

The report was helpful, but it did not support my thoughts about Zone A. In fact, it said very little about Zone A. Instead, it discussed the type of habitat that elk in the area prefer and mentioned the abundance of "excellent habit" in and around Zones C and D.

Although the report did not support my hopes for the area, I was also glad that it did not discuss Zone A. Zone A's minimal role in the report may keep it off other hunter's radar? Nevertheless, I decided to follow-up with the wildlife biologist to discuss Zone A specificially.

This past Friday I talked with the wildlife biologist responsible for the area. Like the report he authored, he was less than enthusiastic about Zone A. Yet, I learned that there were several caveats to his position on Zone A. First, my Internet scouting was accurate: Zone A does hold elk during the summer and into September. Second, he would recommend Zone A for the archery hunt, which runs from mid August through early September. Third, he said that although he knows that some people do hunt Zone A in October, there would be very few hunters and little competition in this zone. Finally, his skepticism of Zone A is heavily dependant on the substantial affect weather has on this zone in October and the number of elk in the zone in October relative to the other zones.

As for the other zones, the biologist focused on the elk's historical presence in and around Zones C and D in October and November, and discussed the number of elk harvested in Zones C and D during recent rifle hunts. At the end of the conversation the biologist told me that he cannot say how many elk, if any, will be in Zone A in October, but he can say that there will be elk in and around Zones C and D every October. (The biologist did not think Zone B was worthwhile because it lacks abundant food sources.)

After talking with the wildlife biologist it seems that my plan to hunt Zone A exclusively may be unsound. Instead, it seems that better options include:

1. Beginning my hunt in Zone A and then transitioning to Zones C and D if I cannot find elk in Zone A.

2. Foregoing Zone A entirely and focusing soley on Zones C and D.

3. Searching for a new area with the same type of habitat in Zones C and D, but with larger parcels void of roads and motorized trails.

I am interested to hear from other forum members? What advice do you have? What option would you pursue and why? What options am I overlooking? What can I do to gather more information?
 
Last edited:

kansasdad

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 30, 2011
Messages
5,558
Location
Wichita
One modifier to the "Newberg rule of one mile" is to remember that could be modified by impassable to normal travel methods, but still physically closer than one mile to a road. (Something like a plateau blocked by cliffs from the road access, but accessable to ingress by looping around from another direction)

In one sense I'm kinda glad Big Fin is codifying his prehunt planning, and detailing his game time decision making process, as it will benefit my hunting strategy processes...... on the other hand, now those who have ears to listen will also have the benefits of systematically thinking about where and how to hunt and possibly end up on "my" hunting area.
 

Rancho Loco

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 2, 2010
Messages
1,100
Location
Bozeman, MT
Paralysis by analysis.

Pick an area, if you don't see elk or fresh sign, go to the next area. Repeat as neccessary.
 

hank4elk

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 8, 2015
Messages
6,188
Location
SW NM
Ditto.
They could be just over the ridge, off the road you are driving on to the trailhead,that everyone is driving on to get to THE SPOT......

That said, I have plans A-Z going with options.
 

JLS

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
15,428
Location
Almost Arkansas…..
One thing to remember is that large blocks of public land can be a hunter magnet. Less can be more at times.

It's funny, because as I was reading the first thing I thought was Zone A for archery. However, I rarely ever rifle hunt the same places I archery hunt. Phrases like hidden canyons and dense timber really jump out at me when I look for rifle places.

Follow Rancho's advice. The elk are where you'll find them. Think security first and go from there. Security is not always in a big block of public land.
 
Yeti

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