8 replies [Last post]
Joined: 10/01/2006
Posts: 3
Another newb and a great day.

Greeting from Central MN.

New to the forum and have lots of questions. I am from Central MN and was talking with my cousin today.

It is our intention to take a trip in 2009 to Colorado or Wyoming for Elk. We have both wanted to to this for years now and have decided it will happen in 2009. It is also the year I am due to retire from the National Guard with 20 years. So what better way than to do this.

So the planning starts today.

We are looking at doing an unguided hunt on public land.

Leaning towards building a triple set of Mauser actions in 280 Rem with matching mil-dot glass on all three guns for the two of us. Same action, caliber and a third gun as a spare.

As it is, I am comfortable with high power guns. I shoot both the M1 Garand and the M14 out to 600 yds regularly and on occassion out to 1000 yds.

My cousin on occassion will shoot .223 or .243 and might get to 200 yds.

Our timeline is to get our guns put together in 2007 and in 2008 our gear. We are hoping to get 3 decent years to get him up to par on long range shooting and familar with our rifles. Probably take the rifles to the badlands for some prairie dogs in 2008.

My big question at the moment is about drawings and how do we make sure we will get a license in 2009?

We are looking at getting cabin tent and other stuff and will be bringing a pair of ATV's with us. My thought so far is, gear will be limited to what can be loaded onto the ATV's with his Chevy pu getting us out there from MN.

So what do we do to get a decent idea of what we are getting into and how do we go about finding decent public land to go on while we are in MN? Looking at the NW corner of the state.

I am sure there will be a gazillion other questions in the future.

redrider's picture
Location: NE Kansas
Joined: 03/20/2006
Posts: 2589
Another newb and a great day.

Welcome to BGH Big smile A man with a plan, got to love it. No experience here with Elk or anything in those areas, but someone will be by shortly and answer those ?'s Thumbs up

Location: Wyoming
Joined: 08/04/2006
Posts: 38
Another newb and a great day.

I don't see the leader's recon in your plan. You might find that a visit/scouting trip might help guide your choices in gear?

I've not hunted NW Colorado before (though my brother does), so can't claim to know what kind of shooting to expect there. My recent experiences have been in S. Wyoming and I grew up hunting SW Colorado. Neither of those seem to lend themselves well to glass over 4x (sometimes less) and are absolutely no comparison to popping prairie dogs out on the flats. That kind of practice would serve you well if you were looking to bag a pronghorn, but I don't think it's representative for most elk country.

Joined: 10/01/2006
Posts: 3
Another newb and a great day.


Yeah, I agree on the leaders recon. Must have spent some time in the service I am guessing? Yes I think we would try to work that in in 2008.

You have me curious though. Most of the information I have read on elk, the guides and outfitters say a 400 yard set-up.

The info you are suggesting is about the opposite.

For my own piece of mind though, I would very much like to know that whatever I go with, will reach out and do the job to 500 meters. Just one of those things the Army has been so nice to me about.

Location: Wyoming
Joined: 08/04/2006
Posts: 38
Another newb and a great day.

Maybe a year or two?! Thumbs up

That's where you're wise to take a look at the country as soon as you can. Maybe that country's a lot more open than what I hunt. I can't see why the guides would recommend a 400 yard setup, otherwise.

Sounds like there might be quite a bit of snow in NW Colorado right now - so make sure you factor in the weather in your gear selection and where you set up camp (especially if you're using an RV). You've got to be able to get out of where you get into.

Location: Colorado
Joined: 11/09/2005
Posts: 164
Another newb and a great day.
farmerj wrote:
Most of the information I have read on elk, the guides and outfitters say a 400 yard set-up.

Well, I'll probably upset some guides with this, but I think they say that because they are hoping to have a high success rate and don't want to have to work as hard as it takes to get in closer.

I hunt with a muzzleloader. I have never taken a shot beyond 100 yards. I don't get a guaranteed elk every year, but nobody does. I have killed enough elk, often enough, to suit me. If you actually HUNT the elk, then you don't need to worry about whether or not you and your rifle can make a clean kill from a hillside a quarter of a mile away.

Besides that, I have NEVER seen elk from 400, or 500, or 600 yards away that I wasn't able to move in close enough to get one with my muzzleloader. Yes, it takes time and effort to do that. But it is entirely possible. I think the guides don't want to go to that effort, and so they hope you'll just shoot the elk from that far out and save them the need for stalking in closer.

On the other issues, check the laws. In Colorado you need a special license to operate an ATV when hunting, and there are a lot of areas where they are just not allowed.

There is no way to guarantee that you'll draw any particular license, but in Colorado you don't actually have to. There are places where you can buy a license over the counter. The thing is that you need to decide if you have one particular place that you want to hunt, or are you willing to accept most any hunt so long as you have a reasonable chance of getting some kind of elk. Then too, you have to decide if you're only going to settle for a bull, or will a cow do (and I'll tell you that cow meat generally tastes better, and the best is a nice, young, calf).

If you only want a bull, does it have to be a trophy? Or are you okay with a raghorn? If you want a trophy bull you can pretty much forget about 2009. You'll have to build up preference points for 5 or 6 years at the very least to get one of the units where you have a really good chance of finding a trophy (I'm talking Colorado here--don't know about Wyoming).

The point though, is that you need to spend a lot of time at the DOW website studying the regulations, the data they have on season success rates, and how the whole drawing and preference point thing works. Then you need to start applying right away, so that you can build up preference points.

Once you've made some more decisions about when and where you hope to be able to hunt I'm sure all the folks here will be more than willing to help with more specific information.

Good luck!

Location: Southern NH
Joined: 09/13/2006
Posts: 374

I have hunted NW Colorado around Meeker for the last 10 years. Depending on where you choose to hunt you could be in anything from dark timber where you'll be lucky to get a clear shot at 50 yards to wide open meadows where you can see much farther than you can ethically shoot. I can understand why you might want to be able to shoot 400 yards but for the most part, you shouldn't need to. I've shot a couple at around 200 yards and one at about 15 yards. I've had plenty of opportunities at much less than 100 yards but....ummm....things didn't pan out. eye roll I would take a shot at 300 w/o hestitation if I had a good rest and conditions were right. I would consider 400 if everything were perfect and I knew the range precisely. I use a .280 Rem and .338 Win Mag which, ballistically, are about the same. I have no doubt they both will kill elk at 400 yards. I just tend to be very conservative at shot selection because I've lost one elk and don't want to lose another. It's good that you're planning way ahead. Don't forget the snowshoes unless you're planning on trying to draw an early season tag. They've saved me twice from a busted hunt due to DEEEEP snow. BTW, every year that we've hunted waist deep snow we've bagged a decent bull. They don't all go down the hill when the snow piles up. Colorado has a lot of on-line resources on their DOW website. You can also check terraserver-usa.com. You can flip back and forth between topo maps and aerial or sattelite photos. Good luck with the hunt!

Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/03/2006
Posts: 23
Another newb and a great day.

I have been applying for and hunting CO for two years now and the best advice I could give is to start applying for preference points now while you are planning your hunt. At first glance the application and area coding looks complicated and confusing, but after you study the hunt codes for a while it will make a lot of sense and its actually quite simple.

The first thing you need to do for Colordo is take a hunter safety course in your own state and obtain the course completion card. Next, contact the Colorado DOW office (phone works well) and give them your card number and personal information to obtain a CID number. Use this number to apply for the license draw each April. In 2007 and 2008 simply apply for the preference point since you are not going to hunt. In 2009, you will have two preference points towards drawing a license in a quality area. Two may or may not be enough, but its better than none.

You have done the right thing starting early so keep it up. Call and talk to the DOW personnel in the offices located near the areas you wish to hunt. They are very good about discussing the areas, hunter concentration and other vital infromation. They pride themselves on returning calls so don't worry if you have to leave a message. It may take a few days, but they will call you back. Look at the GMU maps on the DOW web site. They will give you a good idea where the elk summer and winter at. Keep in mind that this information is available to everyone, so you're not getting anything special.

Then the obvious, find topo maps of the area's you want to hunt and study them for access roads, jeep trails, drainages and other elk type habitat. If you get the chance to take a summer vacation to Colorado, do it and take a drive through potential hunt areas. Colorado is beautiful most anywhere you go so there are worse places to vacation. Have fun and good luck with your plan. Hope some of this info helps you out.

WesternHunter's picture
Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2374
Another newb and a great day.

Target shooting out to 1000 yrds at a range under good conditions is one thing, but you should never attempt that on a game animal in the field. Here in Colorado, altitude, cold, and terrain will affect your performance as a shooter. What you can do while shooting at sea level changes at altitude.

For big game hunting you should not need to take shots farther than 300 yrds, and all the elk and deer I've killed have been killed well within 200 yrds. Just because you spot an elk out at 400 + yrds doesn't mean you shoot it. Only fire if you are 100% certain that your bullet will strike and penetrate it's vital area. Keep in mind that you have an obligation to cleanly and humanely harvest that animal. Unlike a military snipers who only needs to hit a large area from top of head to bottom of torso at 700 + yrds to take a threat out. That's too much error for game animals, and we are not at war with elk Big smile

If you can't get within 200 yrds of your big game animal, then you need to re-think your hunting strategy. Sounds to me like you have a lot of good practical experience shooting over distances. That's a good thing. Just remember, target shooting and armchair (even professional) sniping is a whole different sport than hunting, but as you know it is excellent practice and I encourage all hunters to practice at various distances. Just don't confuse the two sports.

.280 Rem is a great cartridge, and it's really cool that you are building rifles with Mauser actions (love those actions). It's up to you what type of glass you want and what you are comfortable with. Personally for big game hunting I use a 2-7X33 Leupold with a wide duplex reticle set and left at 5X. Probabaly better is a good strong fixed power scope either 4X, 5X, or 6X with a either a 33mm or 40 mm obj lense. Durability, clarity, brightness, and accuracy are key, as I'm sure you know. Zero those puppies in for maximum point blank range for that cartridge and all you have to do is hold your cross hairs on the vital area, no math to have to worry about. Have fun and good luck.

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