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Location: Virginia
Joined: 02/15/2007
Posts: 11
Advice on DIY Muzzleloader Elk in Colorado

My 2 teenage sons and I are planning to come out from VA for muzzleloader elk season 2007. We are experienced Eastern hunters and in good shape. Leaning toward NW Colorado. Hoping to backpack in and hunt 5+ miles off roads. Any suggestions as to areas where elk typically are in the early season? I was looking around Meeker, based on the info I could find. We would need a place that allowed camping. We won't have any preference points, but they are under 16 and I was looking to get a cow tag.
This is really hard to pick an area long distance without any local information! Thanks for any and all suggestions.

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 11/09/2005
Posts: 166
Advice on DIY Muzzleloader Elk in Colorado

First off, all muzzleloader licenses are limited draw, which means that you will have to apply and get drawn and that will determine where you can hunt. Then you'll need to check the muzzleloader regulations to be sure you're legal--no sabots, no scopes, no pelletized powder, no smokeless powder.

Next, I would suggest you give serious consideration to your plan to hike 5+ miles in. A field dressed elk, even a cow, can amount to 300+ lbs. worth of meat. Do you really understand what you're getting into, planning to pack all of that 5+ miles out in the mountains? I live here in Colorado and spend plenty of time at altitude, so it doesn't bother me. I would have no problem backpacking 5 miles into a wilderness area to go camping. But that's nothing like hiking that far to go hunting. I would not want to pack an elk out more than 2 or 3 miles.

Having said that, there are plenty of good places to hunt all over the state, especially if you're not bound and determined to get a trophy bull. The Meeker area has a lot of elk. So does the area around Steamboat Springs. So does the Southwest part of the state, down around Norwood and Naturita.

You can camp in a National Forest anywhere that it is not posted that you cannot camp. There are also plenty of state-owned lands that allow hunting and camping. The best place to start is the DOW website -- http://wildlife.state.co.us/ Click on "Hunting" and then on "Big Game."

Good luck!

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Location: Virginia
Joined: 02/15/2007
Posts: 11
Advice on DIY Muzzleloader Elk in Colorado

All good advice and I knew this was coming! The 3-5 miles is not cast in stone. Not to brag, but, I guess you have to post all this to weed out some of the advice.I am a long distance runner, my boys and I operate a beef cow/calf operation and I have been a large animal veterinarian for 20 years. We were thinking of trying a mag hauler for meat transport. we have hunted together since they were 7 years old. i have taken over 100 whitetails, best being 169 B&C. They have taken many deer and turkey themselves. We are aware of the altitude difference and will do the best we can with that.

I was thinking of Jenson SWA and was looking for more specific advice. I have been to the website, have all the literature and am aware of the draw system for licences.
My goal is to find an area where camping is allowed, where there is a good chance of seeing elk in the area during this early season and where hiking in and out to the elk areas is feasable. We are not after trophy elk neccessarily and know the odds are against getting even a cow first time on our own, but were hoping for a little help on picking a muzzleloader season area. Looking for a good time with my boys and hope to have a reasonable chance of seeing some elk. Can anyone help me with this? Thanks.

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 01/01/2007
Posts: 25
Advice on DIY Muzzleloader Elk in Colorado

I'd have to concur with Denverd0n,
5 miles is a pretty good hump. Our thin mountain air, coupled with the added weight can really wear you out.
I think a more conservative approach may be to plan on 1 mile in, with at least one ridge between you and the parking area.
Maybe look at something in the Flattops area, units 12, 24, 25, 26. This is easier to get to and has pretty good success rates.
For example 26 shows an average success rate of 18% out of 104 hunters.
The elevation can still be over 10,000 feet.
You can run into elk right behind camp. Just last year, I was camped just off a main road, and the wife told me she heard the elk talking and moving right behind camp (Figures). Several times last year I was into elk within 1 mile of the truck.
The ML statewide tags are pretty easy to draw. The bull tags may take a point, but cow tags can normally be drawn with zero points.
Oh, and another thing, Don't hunt elk like whitetails. They are a different beast. For example, elk don't walk through the woods quiet as a mouse, neither should you.
PM me if you need more help.
AB

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Location: Virginia
Joined: 02/15/2007
Posts: 11
Advice on DIY Muzzleloader Elk in Colorado

Great advice and thank you! Let me study my literature and maps a while. I'm sure I will have more questions. Can you camp on most of the public land? Are fires allowed or only stoves? Are you camping in National Forest Lands or SWA? Thanks

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Location: Virginia
Joined: 02/15/2007
Posts: 11
Advice on DIY Muzzleloader Elk in Colorado

I've been trying to register at gmuresearch.com to try to sweet talk you into helping me select my area for my boys and I to hunt but am having difficulty with the registration process. Can you help? Thanks

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Location: Ames, IA
Joined: 01/23/2007
Posts: 6
Advice on DIY Muzzleloader Elk in Colorado

Captain,

You should not have much trouble drawing cow tags for a muzzle loader hunt. Odds are in your favor at least. In my experience Cows are much harder to hunt than bulls. They are hearded up and you have a lot of noses and eyes to fool and it is hard to get close to them with the swirly mountain breezes. Cow calling wont do you much good. This aint Virginia and Elk are a lot different than whitetails.
It sounds like you are in great physical shape and have no shortage of ambition. 5 miles in is a long way off road even for Colorado. There is no shortage of land to hunt or places to camp. It is often warm during the muzzle loader season and meat spoilage is a real concern. If I can inpart one bit of wisdom to you and that is always hunt uphill of your access point. I have a lot of respect for running a marathon but I also have experience packing 100+ lbs of meat 3+ miles uphill. Experience is the best teacher.
Mobility is key to elk hunting. You spook a deer and they run over the hill, you spook an elk and they will run to another mountain. Leave your tree stands at home.
I encourage you to go, hunting the west is priceless, but do your homework.

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 11/09/2005
Posts: 166
Advice on DIY Muzzleloader Elk in Colorado
Captain Dad wrote:
Can you camp on most of the public land? Are fires allowed or only stoves?

Yes, you can camp anywhere in a National Forest that it is not posted against camping. Same is true for SWAs and Wilderness areas. The majority of areas where you would be able to hike in and (mostly) avoid other other hunters will be Wilderness areas and Nat'l Forest.

As for fires you're going to have to wait and see. We've had droughts in recent years and open fires have been prohibited in a lot of areas (statewide at one point). But we had a not-too-bad year last year and a lot of snow this year, so that may loosen up. You'll just have to wait until this summer and see what areas are closed to open fires and what areas aren't. That means you will need to pick an area based on the hunting there, and not on whether you can build a fire.

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/28/2005
Posts: 3
Advice on DIY Muzzleloader Elk in Colorado

Statewide muzzleloader tag for cows is usually pretty easy to draw. Seems most of my office does every year. I have no qualms about packing an elk five miles. Done it several times. Only worries I have had are temperatures. I have had to bail on the rest of the crew so I could get my elk to a meat locker. It can be too warm to hang an elk for very long. Depending where you go you might find you do not need to go in five miles. In fact if you look at most maps, with the exception of wilderness areas it is hard to get in that far. I typically have a camp by my truck than hike in every day, that way if i get something I can run it into Craig or streamboat and put it in storage, than get abck out with the crew. That and sometimes the elk just move out and I need to go somewhere else. I am in good shape so i typically hike in several miles every morning, however, no one else in my camp is able to do this (they don't run and are 15+ years older than my 41). I tend to hunt the areas NW of streamboat springs, 4-5-441,214 (also pretty easy walking). Lots of elk, but no real big ones. If you want cows they are great units to hunt. Probably not worth a hike in camp if you are in good shape. Last year (archery) I hiked about 5 miles to get my elk. Then using a GPS found a road only about 1.5miles away I ended up packing it to there than walking back to get my truck. Be up there again this year. I am 9 for 11 (5 bulls 4 cows) with my bow up there so far.

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Moderator
Location: Kentucky/ Colorado
Joined: 06/23/2005
Posts: 1740
Advice on DIY Muzzleloader Elk in Colorado

Captain Dad, Tuckatucker & Mhornco, Welcome to BGH! Big smile Good to have you here. Thumbs up

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Location: Southern NH
Joined: 09/13/2006
Posts: 379
Muzzleloader elk

Captain Dad

I know that area a little. Jensen is down pretty low just west of in Yellowjacket Pass. I'm not saying you won't see elk there because you can find then just about anywhere. It's also not very remote. We generally hunt the other side of Yellowjacket up near the top of Sleepy Cat. It's just east about 8 miles.....all uphill. Take FS Rd 250 at the top of the pass. I hunted blackpowder near Sleepy Cat about 4 or 5 years ago and we saw some elk. I got to call a nice bull into my buddy's lap but he missed.....and wet himself. Laugh Jensen is mostly scrub oak from what I've seen. It looks good for Muleys but not great for early season elk. There is more dark timber up higher. Hunting pressure is not really too bad during muzzleloader season. That area is mobbed during the general gun seasons but most of your competition will be bowhunters. No real need to get waaaaay back in, unless you want to. There are camp sites all along FS Rd 250. Fires depend on restrictions, as the other guys have said. It was very warm the year I hunted blackpowder. We didn't see anything until we had some rain move in. Then it picked up. There is a meat locker just outside of Meeker on Rt 13 just north of the split to Buford. If you need a locker, that's one choice. Our group is planning on going blackpowder this year but we may go statewide instead. Fewer points required and the stats show higher success rates than our usual area. Good luck with it!

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