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95Harley 08-05-2011 06:35 AM

My First Ever Elk Hunt - SW CO - Any Advise?
Well the time has come after drawing for 4yrs I finally pulled a CO Black powder Elk tag for Sept. I leave in 30 days.

I've never hunted Elk, and I've never hunted out west. We will have a base camp near 10,000 feet and will do a BIVY type hunt about 4.5 miles away at spike camps.

Good and bad news is I moved houses over the winter and changed jobs at work so spare time this summer has been at an EXTREME minimum. So all that running, jogging, packing 80lbs of gear on my back didn't happen. I'm going at this without much conditioning. Oh well, slow and easy I guess.

I've got comfortable boots, range finder, nice binocs, wind checker, hootchie mama call, and all the other essentials.

I know these guys have noses and eyes that make a whitetail seem like weak.

Besides always staying down wind, and watching watering holes in the timber......what other tips can you seasoned Elk hunters provide to a green horn?

Thanks guys, the reality of this hunt is starting to set in now...30 days and counting! :kt:

Wheatley 08-05-2011 08:25 AM

I like to get up on top in the mornings and work my way down. The elk are usually feeding slowly up into their bedding areas early morning. Also depending on how call shy they are you may want to not call. I have seen them take off when someone used a HM so I rarely use calls anymore. I just find them and slowly ework my way in for a shot archery hunting. Or try to get into a position in which direction they are moving. Also get to a spot early in the morning and listen for the bugles and then head that direction. Works well for me.

You may want to try to get some conditioning in within the next month, it will help emmensly. I like to ride a bike it helps with my knees. If I don't I can't walk after the second day.

95Harley 08-05-2011 09:03 AM

I have a pool at my house, does laps or treading water help with conditioning at all?

Wheatley 08-05-2011 10:49 AM

Yep, that would help. Treading water is pretty tiresome after awhile. I remember doing it once a week for x-country practices.

Another thing where I hunt is the elk tended to be at the water from 2:00 - 4:00 in the afternoon. Could be different everywhere else but That was a great time to be by the wallows we found.

charlie brown 08-05-2011 02:44 PM

You might need to adjust your plans. If you have not conidtioned, have never been out west, and have never been to 10,000 feet, you WILL have issues. I live at 5000 feet, and did a hike to a little over 10,000 one day within about 3 hours (trail head was 8800). I was getting altitude sickness. Figure spending at least 2 days at 10,000 just to aclimate BEFORE hiking.

Also, I shot a cow elk last year by myself. I was less than 1/2 mile from my 4 wheeler. It took me 5 hours to skin, quarter, and pack the elk to my 4 wheeler by myself, in 5 trips. That was at 7000 and I am in decent shape. If you have never handled elk before, and have not put that much weight on your back (mine weighed about 60lbs per load), you will need to rethink your BIVY idea. I would guess for 2 people in GOOD shape to do 1 bull elk 4.5 miles would take an honest 2 full days sun up to sun down. It sucks, but thats the reality of it. It can turn a fun hunting trip into a night mare and wasted meat.

Thats my advice.


Muley Hunter 08-05-2011 02:48 PM

You need to really work on your legs. You're going to feel like you did 100 sets of squats after the first day if you don't. You have to get out and hike. Find the time if you want a fun hunt.

Also, the altitude will be really hard if you don't get there early to get acclimated to it. I live at 8500ft, and still feel 11,000ft when I go there.

txhunter58 08-05-2011 04:20 PM

Pool is good for cardio, but as stated, you need to work on legs. I use a stationary bike a lot. Non-impact for my knees and since it is 100+ degrees every day here in Texas, it is much cooler! Wally world usually has them for not much more than $100.

I definately would look at trying to master a cow call. If you haven't ever, I recommend investing in some tapes from He doesn't put out hunting tapes, just info on what elk are saying and what to say back to them. Best money I ever invested in "how to elk hunt" stuff.

I finally figured out a mouth diaphragm, which is really the best way to go, but there are also some other good ones. Primos hyperlip single is a good reed call and there are others. I have heard good and bad on hoochie mamma. I have one. You just never know what will work on a given day. I generally take all three.

What general area will you be hunting in?

c-rad 08-05-2011 06:09 PM

I live at 5000 ft and I hike at 9500 to 10K feet once a week. Make sure you have good boots be prepare to add and take off clothing thru out the day. Drink a lot of water and eat enough calories.

Howler 08-05-2011 06:24 PM

I think your idea of 4.5 miles in to hunt is not even an option for the reason that if you kill an elk in at that distance, sounds like you're not in the shape needed to get the elk out. Packing out elk is not for the faint of heart, or the out-of-shape.
Maybe plan on going in 1.5 or 2 miles for starters,..... and if you want to get in better shape, you'll find time to do it. Weather it be 45 minutes earlier out of bed or find 45 minutes after sun down, ya gotta find time to get some workouts in, otherwise, the mtns. and the elk are going to eat your lunch. Because more often then not, ya gotta find the elk before ya can even hunt the elk. And sometimes, finding them takes a lot of hiking.
Set some goals for yourself but don't set them too high. For instance, decide if you'd be happy with meat/cow, or even a 4x4 bull. Don't push it too hard on the first day. If you do, the days following won't be much fun. At the very least, don't push it so hard that you don't enjoy the scenery. The changing colors should be good for the soul while you're hunting.

Topgun 3006 08-05-2011 08:07 PM

I hate to rain on any parade, but after reading this thread I think the worrying about calls and everything else but your conditoning should take a back seat. I'll be 64 in two weeks and my buddy killed a bull that scored 357 3/8" last year in Wyoming at 6,500" elevation and only 1 1/4 miles from the truck. He shot it opening morning at first light and it took us 3 trips that day and a 4th trip the next morning to backpack everything out to the truck. If you have never been in the mountains and are going as high up as you stated without doing anything to get ready with only one month left until the trip IMHO you are asking for big trouble health-wise and that's all I'm going to say. Even if you start right now I don't see how you can ever get ready for a bivy hunt 4.5 miles in from a main camp. I suggest you listen to the other post and not even think about that bivy camp. Also, you are going to have to take it awful slow and easy for the entire hunt or it could be a disaster waiting to happen. The mountains are not something to take as nonchalantly as you appear to be---Just MHO!

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