Big Game Hunting Moose, elk, mulies, caribou, bear, goats, and sheep are all covered here.

First Elk Hunt

Old 06-06-2012, 04:58 AM
  #1  
Typical Buck
Thread Starter
 
MILLERTIME10's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Tuttle, OK
Posts: 714
Default First Elk Hunt

My buddy and I drew out for our first elk hunt in south central Colorado. Our first choice was muzzle loader and our second choice was first rifle. We ended up getting the the first rifle draw, season runs from Oct 13-17.

My question: What is the hunting/weather like this time of year? I know it varies from year to year, but what can we expect? Our plan is to hike in several miles from the closest public campsite and try to get away from most of the hunters. Our thoughts are to set up camp high and work from there, I just hope we don't get snowed in and can't make it out.

If anyone has hunted the first rifle season in Colorado, what is the hunting population like? It is draw, but I don't know how many tags they normally give out for the 1st rifle.

Thanks for your time,
Trent
MILLERTIME10 is offline  
Old 06-06-2012, 06:36 AM
  #2  
Nontypical Buck
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Rifle, Colorado
Posts: 2,012
Default

Colorado weather is always all over the board. The last 2 years during first season we have had it all where I hunt (Flat Tops). Frosty /cold mornings, hot afternoons and one day of wet/sloppy snow. You really have to be prepared for anything.
Jorgy is offline  
Old 06-06-2012, 03:43 PM
  #3  
Nontypical Buck
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Kerrville, Tx. USA
Posts: 2,722
Default

You drew one of the better elk seasons out there! Should still be some rutting activity and less hunters due to the drawing limit. Probably 1/2 the number in the 2nd season. But there will still be plenty of guys out there. I would suggest you make a scouting trip this summer to scope things out. If you can't, you need to arrive 4-5 days early and get things figured out. Once the guns start popping, the elk will shut up. Good luck
txhunter58 is offline  
Old 06-07-2012, 07:38 AM
  #4  
Nontypical Buck
 
Howler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Elizabeth Colo. USA
Posts: 4,413
Default

have either of you ever packed out an elk? If not, your plan of "several miles" probably isn't a smart one.
The weather can be any thing from hot to snowing. Be prepaired for everything as has been stated.
The number of hunters depends on a lot. You said you're hunting a limited area, but that doesn't tell us much. Some areas take 15 pp's so that is a very limited area where as other areas only take 0 - 1 pp so it would be expected to have higher hunters numbers.
Don't be fooled that elk aren't near roads. Over the years, I've killed and seen many other elk killed not far from roads. Yes, normally the elk stay away from human activity, but with hunting pressure, they can be found anywhere.
You should expect the first couple of mornings to hear some bugling, so be out before sunrise and listen and be prepaired to move to the elk. That'll be your best bet for success.
Howler is offline  
Old 06-07-2012, 08:02 AM
  #5  
Giant Nontypical
 
Muley Hunter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Colorado
Posts: 9,557
Default

Since you didn't give us the unit you're hunting. You can find the info on tag numbers here.

http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/...tatistics.aspx
Muley Hunter is offline  
Old 06-07-2012, 09:29 AM
  #6  
Giant Nontypical
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location:
Posts: 6,221
Default

Congratulations and have a good trip.

Elk like to stay as cool as possible while still remaining in close proximity to ample food, secure cover, and water. The ample food is probably the most important factor. Thus, elk will be high on the mountain until snow drives them down to lower elevations, typically in late October or early November in this area of Colorado. Expect to find elk between 10500 feet and 12000 feet during the first rifle season.

Temperatures in fair weather will reach a high of 50 to 60 degrees during the day and a low of about 20 degrees at night. During foul weather the temperatures will be lower, maybe with a minimum temperature of zero. Some snow is likely during the first rifle season, sometimes heavy snow falls (8 inches to 2 feet). Don’t worry much about getting stuck in a snow storm coming DOWN off the mountain, but it can happen. You should have tire chains for your vehicle and use them if you get into significant snow. Put them on before you get stuck, but you can still put them on when you are stuck, it is just more of a hassle to gain access to install them. Have gloves and a warm hat. Most heat is lost through the head. Have sun glasses and lip balm. Bright sunlight on snow at 11000 feet isn’t going to be very friendly to your eyeballs.

Elk tend to herd together. Expect to see elk in groups of 20, 30, 40. Sometimes you will see a small group of 4 elk together. Elk are not evenly distributed in an area, unlike deer. You may find 30 elk in a 5 acre area and there may be no other elk in the rest of the 10 square mile surrounding you. Until you find elk, you may wish to move quickly until you find sign such as fresh tracks, fresh droppings, or smell elk. Then slow down. If you go too slow before you find sign, you may spend your whole hunt in that portion of the 10 square miles where the elk are not located! Elk like to be close to large feeding areas. Because elk eat a lot and because they tend to herd up, they aren’t going to be satisfies with a tennis court sized grass area for long. Even a football sized area will be grazed off by a herd of 20 elk pretty quickly. They like to bed on ridges where there is a flattened place or a bench. Approach from above the bench and just off the side of the ridge. Saddles between two different drainages are likely spots. The elk are active at morning and night and bed during the day. They are more active just after a period of bad weather when they will likely hole up and desist from grazing.

Realistically assess your hunting plans. Something like 20% of elk hunters in Colorado take an elk and 80% go home empty handed. First, understand that being in elk country during the first rifle season on Southern Colorado is a beautiful experience . If this is all you come away with, that is still well worth the trouble and the trip. This is your first elk hunt, so if nothing else you will learn many, many things from this first hunt that you could not have learned sitting on your butt in Oklahoma reading hunting magazines and books about hunting. Ask everyone you meet about what they can teach you about elk hunting. They aren’t likely to tell you a good spot to hunt elk, but they might, so listen carefully. More likely they can tell you some things such as where to look for elk – like on a ridge on a bench, approaching from above. If you see a cow 15 minutes into opening morning, you may want to shoot that cow rather than holding out for a 7x7 bull. The choice is yours. Think your decision making process out in advance so you won’t regret the decision you ultimately take. If you want to hold out for the 7x7, then you shouldn’t be disappointed if you pass on a cow and never see a 7x7. You aren’t going to see many 7x7 elk on public land unless the hunting unit his HIGHLY exclusive, meaning you may need to accumulate preference points for some 10 years or more. A 6x6 is very good. A 5x5 is more likely. A 4x4 is not anything to turn your nose up at.

Elk are big animals, so have a plan on how you are going to get one out if you kill one. Some packers will hire out to retrieve elk with horses. This may cost about $350. If you are interested in this, be sure to make arrangements in advance – have one or more packers identified in advance. You will want to field dress the elk promptly. Have at least two sharp knives. Knives break sometimes. Also, have a sharpener. Have a good bone saw, such as a Wyoming brand saw. Elk hide and hair are hard on knives and dull them quickly. Plan to skin off the hide on one side, remove the up side backstrap, remove the rear leg, remove the front leg/shoulder, saw off a portion of the skull retaining the antlers if present, then roll over to the other side. Rolling the elk over is often difficult for one person to do. This is one reason you want to remove the antlers before rolling over. You may need to manoeuvre the elk’s position on the ground to make it easier to roll over. Remove the hide on the other side, remove the backstrap on this side, remove the rear leg, remove the front leg/shoulder. Also, remove the tenderloins on the inside of the rib cage along the backbone. Unlike deer, backstrap in elk are considerable sized pieces of meat. Additionally they are the best meat on the elk. Additionally, the Colorado Department of Game and Wildlife is liable to give you a ticket for wanton waste of game meat if you don’t take the tenderloins. As I take off the meat, I like to bury in snow if present to promote cooling the meat. Saw off the lower portions of the legs and the hooves. Remember that much of the meat in the lower end of the legs is pretty much useless – tough and full of tendons. Have game bags for storing the meat in. This can be pillow cases, flimsy thin game bags, or heavy canvas-like game bags. I use the heavy canvas-like game bags, but my hunting partner uses the flimsy thin game bags and they work too. If there is no snow at the kill site, drag or carry the game bags to a shady, snowy area and bury in snow. You may leave the meat here for 3 days without fear of the meat going bad. Remember, the meat is buried in snow, the daytime high only reaches about 55 degrees at the maximum, and nighttime lows drop to 20 degrees.

Be in good physical condition. Emphasize training for endurance rather than training for maximum strength. Walking can be a good exercise, like walking 4 miles per day with ankle weights and with a 25 LBS pack on your back. Running is good too but don’t ignore walking on the mistaken notion that it just doesn’t have any value. It has plenty of value, it just takes longer to walk 4 miles than to run 4 miles. Do strength exercises such as lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, knee lifts, bicep curls, wrist curls, dead lifts. If you don’t have equipment for some of these (dead lifts) skip those. Get your weight down to a desired weight, whatever that is.
Practice with your rifle so you are aware of where it is shooting. This is in the no-brainer region. Have good boots that are broken in. The boots should work on uneven, rocky terrain and work while carrying a heavy load.

Last edited by Alsatian; 06-07-2012 at 09:35 AM.
Alsatian is offline  
Old 06-07-2012, 09:45 AM
  #7  
Giant Nontypical
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location:
Posts: 6,221
Default

I don't know what your camping arrangements are going to be. I have backpack hunted once and didn't like it much. Since that one time I have twice hunted out of a canvas wall tent with a wood stove for heat that was MUCH MUCH better. Many thanks to my hunting partner who invites me to share his tent with him.

I think you ought to go elk hunting no matter what. But if you are backpacking, try to think about providing some comforts for yourself. If it is possible to SAFELY heat your backpacking tent, look very seriously into that. It may be worth your while to light a serious wood fire every night. After being in the cold all day long, you want some warmth, and I'm not kidding about that. It is not like backpacking in balmy August in the mountains. Take the trouble to set up some logs you can sit on comfortably, maybe be able to lean you back against it.

The post that recommended scouting your area this summer or gonig out early is good advice. Basically you are going to have to scout during hunting season if you don't scout in advance. Better to scout in advance. Also, if you have never been to the mountains, going out to the mountains and doing some aggressive hiking in mid-July may be an educational experience that motivates you all the more to lose weight and get serious about exercising.
Alsatian is offline  
Old 06-07-2012, 04:47 PM
  #8  
Giant Nontypical
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Allegan, MI
Posts: 8,019
Default

Absolutely terrific advice for the newbie Sir!!!
Topgun 3006 is offline  
Old 06-08-2012, 04:43 AM
  #9  
Typical Buck
Thread Starter
 
MILLERTIME10's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Tuttle, OK
Posts: 714
Default

I am overwhelmed by the amount of advice you guys have shared with me through this post, I cannot thank you guys enough for the time you took to help me and my buddy out.

I did a little research and found out that they draw 1000 applicants to the the 80/81 units during the first rifle season, but on average only ~480 hunters actually hunt. The success rate has been ~20% the past 3 years.

I know a guy that was kind enough to show me where to start and have a good oppurtunity to find elk. It will be about 3-4 miles from the nearest public campsite and will be about 11,500-12,000'. That was about all the information he shared, just a starting point. I am not complaining one bit, that is just the reason for my question on here.

A little bit about my buddy and myself. I will try to say this with humility, I am really not trying to boast, just trying to give you guys a little information about us: We are die hard hunters and have grown up in and around the woods our entire life. I would say we have a little savvy in the woods. We are both in good shape and do not shy away from hard work. He is about 6' 1'' 225 and is stout as an ox, and I am 5 11'' 215 and can hold my own but need to lose about 10 lbs before the trip. Although I know we are in good shape, we both are aware of the difficult task we have in front of us and are going to be in tip top shape prior to the trip. We both grew playing sports and that is what helped pay part of my college. Saying all that, I know it will still be a humbling experience when the time arrives and we go hiking. We have both snow skiied several times in the Rocky's, so we have a fair understanding of the altitude affects.

I know this comparison is not the greatest, but we have a lot of experience camping and packing out game in the mountains (hills) in Southeastern Oklahoma. My buddy was telling me about a time he packed out three whitetails with his brother a mile and a half from camp in one day. I know the mountians aren't as steep/big and weather not as cold, but it gives us a starting point.

I have heard that Gortex Gators are a good investment to keep your legs dry, what is your experience with these? Good or bad idea?

My wife and I are expecting our second child at the end of this moth, so my summer will be a little busy, but we are going to try and find a free long weekend to check out our hunting area this summer. I know this will be beneficial, I hope we will be able to get it done.

Once again, thanks for all the advice and knowledge, I really do appreciate it. Feel free to keep it coming if you guys have anything else to share. Come the end of October I will have pictures and stories to share, successful or not. This has been a life long dream of mine and it is finally coming true.

Thanks again,
Trent
MILLERTIME10 is offline  
Old 06-08-2012, 06:00 AM
  #10  
Giant Nontypical
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location:
Posts: 6,221
Default

I don't think goretex gaiters are vital to your outfit. I've never seen people wearing gaitors while hunting. If you need them, the snow is very deep or you are standing out in a blizzard. You won't walk very far in deep snow. You don't need to bother hunting during a blizzard -- just rest up in camp and try to be ready to go out hunting AFTER the blizzard breaks. The elk will be holed up in deep cover during the blizzard. After the blizzard, however, it may be very difficult to hunt the elk because of the deep snow.

It sounds like you have the general low down on what is needed to get out there and hunt. The remaining ticklish subject is how to find elk. If you can find elk -- see them -- then you can hunt them or stalk them and shoot one. That one detail of finding elk is probably the hardest thing and the thing least talked of in hunting books or magazines! These texts are always focused on equipment -- maybe because their sponsors are equipment retailers or equipment manufacturers?

So . . . do pay attention to the other things -- equipment, fitness, etc. -- but remember the one thing that may be the most difficult is finding the elk.

If you can get out to your hunting area this summer that would be great. You mention someone gave you a pointer where to find elk. Check that out. It is important to hunt away from roads -- any road that is reasonably navigable. Other hunters can drive up these roads and go hunting off the roads. If you are at least a mile away from the closest road your chances will be better. When you are in the area you have been alerted to, look for edges between heavy timber and open ground. These are good places to look for elk -- food close to security cover. Look for elk tracks -- in the open or back in the woods.

Try to find out from others -- on this web site and others -- what their best knowledge is about where elk are found. I don't mean at coordinate XXX, YYY I mean on ridges, in saddles, in engleman spruce but not in douglas fir (this is just an example, I have no reason to think this is true), that kind of stuff. I'm still learning that, so don't have much advice to give. My belief is that really skilled elk hunters are able to elminate 90% of the landscape as not attractive or suitable to elk and then focus on the remaining 10% that is most likely to contain elk.

Once you find the elk, they are liable to stay put unless you scare them away. If it isn't the last day of the season, if you are not in position to stalk or hunt them -- it is 6:15 PM, they are 1000 feet above you and 2 miles away on the mountain -- think about a plan that gives you a chance to get close the next day. It is better to hunt down onto them from above. Expect them to sleep in thick trees and go to open pastures or meadows to feed just before sundown and just before sunup. If they are bedded down in sight but are unapproachable -- a herd of 20 elk have 40 eyes, 40 ears, and 20 noses, and only one of these needs to mark you to result in all the elk flushing -- think about where they may go when they get up from their beds and position your self to intercept them.

Again, talk to others to harvest their wisdom and experience. Not too many will give up sweet spots, but most will tell you techniques and principles, to the extent they have understood and systematized what has worked for them. Sometimes, though, you just get lucky and you don't know why you stumbled into some elk, you are just thankful and happy.
Alsatian is offline  

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.