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Colorado Elk Hunt - First Timer!

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Colorado Elk Hunt - First Timer!

Old 09-20-2011, 12:28 PM
Giant Nontypical
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,174

Are you going on an outfitted/guided hunt or is this DIY? If DIY, where are you staying? It is good to know at what altitude elk are at during your hunting interval. Early in the year, elk are up high near timberline; later in the year, after snows push them down, elk are down low, often on private lands.

While only about 25% of elk hunters take an elk in a given season, and your odds may be lower because this is your first time, be prepared with a plan for handling your elk. How will you get the meat out? You are not likely to be be dragging an elk 1/2 mile as you might a whitetail deer. You might think about dragging the elk carcass to a better place to work on it if the elk is on a hillside that would promote sliding downhill, maybe closer to the trail, maybe to some tree cover and snow to help keep the meat cool. Most people take their elk apart into major pieces at the kill site. For example, some people field dress the elk and then cut it into quarters. Personally, I skin out the up-side of my elk, cut off the rear thigh (cutting lower leg off with a good meat/bone saw such as the Wyoming Saw -- maybe a good gadget to think about buying if you don't have a good bone saw), cut off the shoulder, cut off the backstrap on the up-side, cut off the rib meat. Then I roll the elk over onto the defleshed side. I then repeat on the other side. I end up with chunks of meat that are easier to deal with. I put these in heavy cotton game bags and haul them out one parcel at a time. My smallish bull elk in 2009 had leg portions that weighed 55 LBS. Bigger elk are liable to have yet heavier leg portions. If you were trying to whittle the weight down yet further, you could bone out the meat. To support this work you will want a couple of good hunting knives, not just one. If one dulls you have a back-up. If one breaks you have a back-up.

Take sunglasses and lip balm. Sunlight on snow is going to hurt your eyes. Especially as you may well be at high altitudes where there is much more UV in the light.

Warm clothes, good boots.

Keep track of where you are at and know how to get back to where you started. This turns out to be easier than it might at first appear . . . but I read stories about people getting lost, so it is worth keeping oriented. A cheap GPS is good to have. You can set waypoints in the GPS for the camp, the kill site, other places you may wish to return to. Then the GPS does the work for you telling you what way to go. You may not want to go as the crow flies -- to avoid climbing over a high ridge -- but you may figure "OK, the truck is over there, across this ridge, I'm going to go down this draw to where it hits the road and walk back up the not-too-steep road to my truck."

As with White tails, be in position well before light and all the way until after sun down at night. The most productive intervals may be the twilight in the morning and the twilight in the evening. Many people rest at mid-day on the assumption the elk are napping. On the other hand, I have read some people say you can hunt effectively during the middle of the day.

If you don't know where the elk are, many people recommend starting out on a high place looking for elk using good binoculars or spotting scopes. Look for elk in openings. Ridges are good places to look for elk. People say elk start out mornings low and climb high, bed high, and return low at night. Elk are supposed to be more easily hunted from above than from below.
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:56 PM
Fork Horn
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: southeast missouri
Posts: 191

Right on Alsatian. I'm sure their are many more experienced elk hunters than me. I agree and have witnessed elk heading up hill in the morning and vis-a-versa in the evening. Also I read that putting pepper on meat to keep flies off while skinning and I can tell you it does work. I used it to keep flies at bay while I was skinning an elk waiting for my son-in-law to come back with our frame packs.
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Old 09-22-2011, 06:31 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: St. Louis, Mo
Posts: 4

Great info everyone. I really appreciate your help. I run triathlons, adventure races and have hiked in the mountains on several occaisions, so while I'm trying to work more leg strenghtening exercises into my workouts, I haven't changed it a lot. I'm confident with my conditioning and navigation in the woods.
There will actually be three of us, so our intent was to quarter the elk (if we are so lucky) and then pack it out. But it's good that I won't have to do it ourselves. The one thing I've learned from whitetail is that scent is crucial and I've heard that helps with elk, as well as plan on being out all day. I appreciate the confirmation of those.
As I've said, I've done a lot of shooting at long range and so I'm very confident up to 400 yards. If I have the time and the steady support I think I could take up to 600 yards without much trouble.
Thanks again for all the input and good luck to everyone. I'll let you know how it goes!
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Old 09-22-2011, 09:56 AM
Giant Nontypical
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,174

Also . . . I forgot to mention in my earlier post DON'T FORGET THE TENDERLOINS!!!! These are the best piece of meat on the Elk, and Elk tenderloins are considerable in size. These are on the inside of the rib cage, on either side of the axis of the spine. They are the interior reflection of the backstrap. One Elk tenderloin is a meal for a family of four. There are two tenderloins.

Further, you may wish to extract the prominent canine teeth of your Elk, so take a pair of pliers to pull these out. You will need to cut into the gums to free these. They make attractive jewelry.
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