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Joined: 10/23/2015
Posts: 3
2016 First Rifle Unit 4 Colorado Questions

newbie here, never been out west before so its all going to be a learning experience.  Four of us drew tags for the first rifle season in unit 4.  I have everything planned out from where we will stay for the drive out and where we will camp. I also have a few maps that I have picked out spots that look like they should be good in the routt national forest, but I have no clue how to hunt it.  With the amount of hunters that everyone keeps talking about would it be better to just sit the first few days?   If its anything like PA, most guys will only go about 1 mile off the road and give up around noon.  I guess im just looking for a hunting style that has worked for others in the 1st season. Or any other suggestions for hunting unit 4 in colorado would be appreciated. We will be camped on the northwest corner of the routt.




vinny217's picture
Location: frederick CO
Joined: 05/08/2015
Posts: 77
I wouldn't sit the first

I wouldn't sit the first couple of days that's when most the elk are killed up there. Once they get gun shy it's a lot tougher up there. PM I have a buddy who has been hunting up there for about 20 years.

Joined: 10/08/2009
Posts: 110
Be prepared to see a lot of

Be prepared to see a lot of people. The key is finding the refuge areas where people arent hunting or escape routes where the elk are traveling to get away from the traffic. Easily accessed trailheads and horse trails are not your friend up there. I have hunted up there for over a decade. 

My experience is that most folks fit into one of three categories; on the road, 1-2miles in on foot, and 2-5 miles in on horseback. there are enough roads up there that being more than 5 miles away from a road isnt likely.

Sometimes that refuge area is in nasty timber wihtin the first mile off of a road. Sometimes its high up on a mountainside tucked into timber pockets surrounded by scree fields.

My philosohpy opening day is to be in a spot where everyone is going to be bumping the elk around and you will likely have an opportunity. After opening day it gets tougher cause they will retreat to the safest places they know. That is when it is time to get off the road as far as possible in an area where horses cannot access heavy steep timber. You will find mature elk calling and bugling looking for second estrous cycle cows in these areas.

Good luck, it is beautiiful country and a great place for a first elk hunt!

Joined: 07/16/2009
Posts: 70
I know that area too.  Lots

I know that area too.  Lots of guides in there, which is bad because that means more people, but good, because it means there are elk there too.   Expect to walk a lot and the terrain is very steep on some places.  The elk get pushed around and by Monday they will be holding TIGHT.   I think the best tactic is to find them Thrusday or Friday, not spook them, then get into position early on Saturday.  Obviously easier said than done.  

Have multiple potential camp sites picked out.  It's first come, first serve in the national forest.  Lots of private around the NF there too, so know your boundaries.  In CO, land owners do not need to post or fence their property - and the ranchers don't take well to tresspassers.  


Joined: 10/23/2015
Posts: 3
Thanks for the replies,   I

Thanks for the replies,   I really appreciate the help

Joined: 10/23/2015
Posts: 3
Is it worth hunting west of


Joined: 02/24/2016
Posts: 3
The majority of elk killed in

The majority of elk killed in the Bears Ears Mountains are killed in between Black Mountain in unit 4 and California Park in unit 441. I would hunt Somewhere around the east part of Black Mountain and west of Sugarloaf Peak. 


After the first 2 days the elk seem to disappear unless you can figure out where they are going when pressured by the hundreds of rifle hunters in the area at that time. In 441 they will all pretty much go to private land while in 4 the elk will go to private land and/or get into high, hard to reach areas and start to only travel at night. This is what makes 2nd rifle so hard in those units, that and combine all of the deer hunters and you have what we call a zoo. 


If you get any snow, be out hunting no matter what time of day it is. That early, you could actually see elk crossing the road during a snow storm.