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Joined: 12/10/2009
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3 guys to go elk hunting in 2010 Please give helful info!

Guys i'm not gonna ask you for your honey holes! I would just like some info on hunting colorado elk. Me and 2 othe guys i work with have kicked around going to colorado elk hunting for the past few years. But never got the ball rolling. Elk hunting has always be a dream of mine since the first time i went whitetail hunting. We have about a million questions but i don't expect someone to hold our hands. We are looking to do our own thing. (no guide) I've been reading alot on units and drawing them. I understand it for the most part. We are planning on trying to draw as a group. Although i know it cuts our odds. We all realize we can't go and expect to kill a cracker jack the first year but we would like to find a unit with enough elk so that we can atleast spot some. What are ya'lls thoughts. We are planning on bring horses. (good idea or bad) or would fourwheelers better? We are looking at trying for elk/deer tag. but have not much of a clue on best or worse units. we will be hunting public land. Please help me with any thoughts and or comments ya'll have. Links or what ever you got to offer to help another hunter. Anything ya'll need to know about hunting oklahoma i'll try to help you with. Thanks in advance. Brandon

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Location: western co.
Joined: 08/23/2009
Posts: 121
Re: 3 guys to go elk hunting in 2010 Please give helful info

personally i would want helpful information Big smile

HOGGETTER's picture
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Location: CenCal
Joined: 11/05/2009
Posts: 750
3 guys to go elk hunting in 2010 Please give helful info!

Welcome To BGH, first question rifle or bow?

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Joined: 12/10/2009
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3 guys to go elk hunting in 2010 Please give helful info!

rifle. i do alot of bow hunting but one of the guys just finished his first whitetail season and the other never shot a bow. So we are gonna take babysteps lol

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Joined: 12/10/2009
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3 guys to go elk hunting in 2010 Please give helful info!

Thanks hoggetter!

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Location: Colorado
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3 guys to go elk hunting in 2010 Please give helful info!

Ok, lot to go over here, but lets start with the combo hunts. If you want to do a deer/elk combo, it will be more difficult if you are looking for a limited elk and deer unit. All deer units are limited, and available during 2nd, 3rd or 4th seasons. However, the 4th season tags are extremely difficult to draw. I'm assuming you are nonresidents with no preference points. Now, the 2nd and 3rd season bull elk tags are unlimited in many units, so you've got that to work with. The other thing to consider to help your odds is trying to draw a cow tag. Costs less ($350 for 2010 instead of $550 for the bulls).

So just quickly trying to piece together a limited elk and limited deer combo (2nd season is your best bet because they tags are in less demand, but I prefer to hunt 3rd season because there are fewer people). Units 46 or 39 might be an option if you want limited elk and deer with 0 points in 2nd season, but I skipped over a lot of good OTC elk units before I hit those. And I'm not a huge fan of either.
So let's look at OTC bull and 0 point buck tags: some of the better ones include the group of units around Aspen, units 44,45,47,444. I like 47 a lot, and 44 actually requires several points for deer. However 444, 45, 47 or 43 could all work out for you with no points(not saying you'll for sure draw, but you might). Each of those units also has a ton of wilderness, severely restricting ATV usage. But if you've got horses, that's the way to attack it.
There are also several really popular units that you should at least consider. They are popular partly due to repuation, partly due to game abundance, but I stay away from them as there are too many people for me. They are:
12,23,24,25,26,33,34 Those are the Flat Tops units that you hear so much about, with unit 12 being the most popular. Of those, I would lean towards 33 for a combo hunt.
Unit 62, the Uncompahgre plateau (east side). It is the single most popular unit in the state. Lots of elk and deer, good place for an ATV, but there are places you can use a horse.
Units 4,,5,441. When someone says Craig, they typically mean these units, also referred to as the Bear's Ears or Elkhead Mountains herd. Lots of elk, some deer at the higher elevations, lots of people, good roads, no wilderness.
Gore Range: units 15 and 27. Plenty of animals, decent roads, but also a large wilderness to drop into with your horses. Pretty popular though.
Grand Mesa and the Battlements: Units 41, 411,421,42,521,52. This is a good spot for someone with an ATV. There is no wilderness and ATVs are allowed on the trails.
San Juans: 74,75,751, etc Lots of wilderness and some decent access with an ATV. Plenty of elk and deer, plenty of people, but the pressure isn't quite as bad some of the other places I mentioned.

That'll give you some places to mull over, so what else did you need to know?

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Joined: 12/11/2009
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3 guys to go elk hunting in 2010 Please give helful info!

Brandon,
I don't own horses but have read on several forums to know that if your horses aren't used to the strenuous requirements of mountainous terrain, you might be better off leaving them at home. Even the smell of an elk carcass, let alone thrown on its back, may create a rodeo event. I don't mean to criticize your intentions, just wanted to bring up an issue you may want to consider. I have hunted a wilderness unit mentioned by exbiologist and can't imagine getting flatland horses into these areas.
When you narrow down your unit picks, download Google Earth and use it as a tool to start looking at the terrain and finding some areas that should be holding elk. Along with the CDOW website you can do alot of scouting from home that will help you get started. Good luck!

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3 guys to go elk hunting in 2010 Please give helful info!

I use horses a Lot. I think you would enjoy bringing your horses with you.
Make sure they are in shape. You are bringing them from lower elevations and going to be riding them above 8,000 foot. maybe even above 10,000. You will be climbing mountains that are much steeper than what they are used to at home. The horses will adjust to the elevation faster than you wil, But they need to be in shape. Also you will be putting much more weight on your horses while hunting than at home. Heavy clothing, rifle, packing your lunch and other day pack items. Usually full saddle bags.

Even if your horses are not in perfect shape. That's OK. But pay attention to how much stress you put them under. Learn how to read their Pulse & Respiration. Be aware of what their normal recovery times are. Know how to check their hydration and what their normal gut sounds are. Check these as you work the horses. If they get stressed. Give them a break. I give my horses a day off after a couple days of hard work. Watch soreness, stiffness etc. They get sore muscles just like people when they are over worked.

Learn how to camp with your horses. Elk camp is not the time to teach your horses how to high line, stay tied to stationary objects or use hobbles.. Practice packing your horses. Learn how to pack odd shaped items , how to balance loads and secure them. If your horses are used to you packing items on them. Loading an elk won't be a big deal. But if you horses are uncomfortable with you tugging and heave and ho heavy items, if they don't like you pulling tarps or canvas mantes over them, You have no chance trying to lift an bloody elk quarter up and into a set of panniers or tying on a set of horns. Especially since you will be loading them on steep hillside or in the timber, with the wind gusting, maybe even in snow storm.

If you use shoes on your horses, make sure you have a fresh set put on prior to coming out. Hunting season is too short and your time is to valuable to have to try and find a farrier during your hunt. Make sure all yoru gear fits. Don't bring a saddle that you know causes sores on a certain horse. Be prepared for your horses to step on a rein and break it, for a cinch to break etc. At least have spares in your trailer. All Forest Services, BLM and State lands will require Certified Weed Free hay. Chances are you will not be able to purchase this back home. Find a source near your hunt to buy the hay you need. Most hay pellets meet the certified hay requirements. It may be wise to get your horse used to eating their new feed a few day prior to the hunt. It's hard enough on their systems to be thrown in a trailer and dragged across the country. don't add the complexity of a new diet to the equation.

Chances are your horses will be standing in a pasture at 70*-80* at home. The next week they will be elk camp at 9000 foot and it will be 10* at night. They will be tied to highline and not able to move around to generate some body heat. Be prepared to blanket or add some kind of protection. At least plan to feed more feed than you normally would feed.

I find the time spent with my horses during fall hunts, is some of the best time I spend with them all year.

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Joined: 10/27/2009
Posts: 15
sw Colorado

I think you would like units 74 and 75 if you have horses, I would hunt the hermosa drainage if I were you.

check my blog for more information.

If you are planning a hunting trip around Durango on the San Juan National Forest, I hope this information will give you some insight as to where to go and what to expect. While I am no expert on hunting, I have hunted in South West Colorado for over 20 years so I do know a few where abouts as to the elusive elk's hide aways. Each year I am constantly asked by out of staters, "where's the best place?".

http://coloradohuntandfish.blogspot.com/2009/10/hunting-around-durango-c...

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Location: WESTERN COLORADO
Joined: 03/18/2009
Posts: 78
3 guys to go elk hunting in 2010 Please give helful info!

Wow , Thumbs up painted horse and dutch30 that is some great info you shared it's good to see peaple like yourselves on this site!!

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Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 120
3 guys to go elk hunting in 2010 Please give helful info!

Brandon, I'll add some more to what I posted a few days ago.

I don't hunt a lot from horseback. I use my horses to pack in my camp, to get me to where I want to hunt, and to haul out what ever I shoot. If I can camp close to where I want to hunt, I leave the horses tied to the Highline and hike out from camp. If I'm going a little farther away from camp, I will ride the horses to where I want to hunt. (Often in the dark before sun up) Tie them to a tree, and set off on foot.

Deer I gut and haul out whole. ( unless it's extremely big) Elk I don't gut, I just bone out the meat. I carry cotton bags in my back pack, I bone out the meat and put it in the bags, Hang it in a tree and go get my horses to pack it back to camp. Learn how to Button Hole a deer over the saddle horn.

Horses have an incredible memory for the trails they use. They also have great night vision. If you can ride up the trail you want to travel a day or two prior to the hunt. The horses usually can follow right up that same trail in the dark the morning of the hunt. This fall a friend's son shot a moose, He came back to camp and got us to come haul the moose out. We headed up the trail ( which we had never been on) just before dark. We got to the kill site just as darkness set in. It took us 1 1/2 hours to cut up the moose and pack it on the horses. It was pitch black. I couldn't see a thing. I got on my gelding, held the lead rope for the other two pack horses and gave my gelding his head, dropping the reins on his neck. Kept my free hand up to protect my face from branches and headed for the trailer. Two hours later I arrived at the truck, The horses had not missed a beat following a trail that I could not see in the dark.

I use canvas saddle panniers a lot vs a real pack saddle. Mostly because I don't have enough horses. So we ride the horses in with the panniers rolled up behind the cantle. If we kill something, we butcher it and place the meat in the panniers and lead the horses out. Canvas saddle panniers are cheaper than a dedicated pack saddle. You can buy them from lots of places for around a $100 a set. hey are not as good as a real Sawbuck or Decker set up. Yes they are harder to pack than a dedicated pack saddle, yes you get blood and wear and tear on your good saddle, But for the one trip in the fall, they will get the job done. If you bring a dedicated pack saddle, That horse will be a pack horse all hunting trip. At least with a real saddle and paniers, you can saddle up and go for ride to explore country.

I teach all of my horses to tolerate a gun shot. Don't think you can show up on the mountain, see and elk and bail off the horse and shoot your rifle and not have the horse leave you. You need to teach them that a gun going off is not something to flee. If I see game while I'm riding, I always dismount. We take turns holding the horses, while the hunter whose turn it is to shoot, steps a few feet away from the horses and fires. We never shoot off the horses backs, or fire a weapon where the muzzle blast will hit the horses. Just common curtousy to the horse. You don't like a magnum muzzle blast in your ears, Neither does your horse.

Most of this stuff you can teach your horses at home before you venture out west. Buy your panniers, put a couple of old tires in them and take your horses for a ride. While out, have a friend hold the horses and fire a pistol. While eating your lunch, tie the horses to a highline or hobble them.

Good Luck and have a lot of fun

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