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Location: Denver, CO
Joined: 02/19/2009
Posts: 30
Another, "Where should I go?" question

So I am finally doing my first elk hunt this fall, and I of course am beyond excited. I've put in for a limited tag, but this question will be pertaining to my OTC tag. I want to camp while hunting (frame pack the meat out should I be so lucky, etc), and am trying to decide on a location. I figured I should also add that I camp in a tent, and I am in great shape (being 21 helps Big smile ) and willing to pack out an elk quite a distance.

I want to get away from the crowds, and am willing to sacrifice the size of the elk (I won't be chasing the trophies just yet), keeping in mind I do still want a reasonable number of legal elk to chase!

Near Meeker? Down near Montrose? Glenwood Springs?

Thanks! Hopefully I included most of the info I needed to!

Greg

P.S. Does anyone have a link of how many elk were taken in which units?

exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
Another, "Where should I go?" question

I'm glad to hear you're finally giving elk hunting a whirl. Since you're new, you may have skipped over or misunderstood the whole licensing process. First, you can only have one bull, either sex or cow tag, second you can only have an additional elk tag IF at least one of those tags are List B. So, one license has to be list B, meaning a cow tag from one of a handful of units.
So assuming you got that right and applied for a cow tag in a list B area, then you can have an OTC bull tag also. If your cow tag isn't list B, then you can pick up a leftover List B tag for your second elk tag. If you don't draw, then you'll be fine and can pick up a leftover List B and an OTC bull tag. Got it?
As for the link to the big game stats:
http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/BigGame/Statistics/

It goes on a long way and you can look at it for all the rifle seasons, individual rifle seasons, muzzleloader and archery season, or all combined.

The units with the top harvests will also be the most crowded, among those are units 4, 12, 62 and 70.
If you want an OTC bull tag, I'd suggest it be for 3rd season, not 2nd. But another option would be to hunt the second weekend of 2nd season for some of the lightest pressure. Opening weekend of second season is the biggest zoo of all, avoid that if you can.

While I applaud your willingness to put in the effort to pack yourself in and hunt, you might be biting off more than you can chew for a first elk hunt. It's incredibly enjoyable, but you won't be able to hunt during the mild weather of September. Mid to late October in the Rockies is very unpredictable and I've had snow during every 1st elk season that I've been in Colorado. You can still have fun car camping and day hunting, but of course there will be a lot more people near the roads.
The areas you mentioned are all well known elk hunting hot spots( don't forget Craig!). So I guess you have to be honest with yourself, would you rather hunt and see neither people nor elk, lots of people and lots of elk, or a few people and a few elk? You can't have lots of elk and few people without applying for 6+ years and going to a trophy unit. Also, are you going to deer hunt? You didn't mention whether you applied for deer or not. I'm assuming you didn't. Soooooo, if you'd like to pick up a leftover deer tag and hunt an OTC unit, I'd suggest unit 14, near Steamboat Springs. The success rates on both elk and deer aren't very good, but the game densities are high, the public land is abundant and you'll be able to get away from the crowds if you like.
If you'd rather sacrifice hunter density for success, go to unit 4, 12 or 23. These are extremely popular for a reason; they produce.
If you just want to elk hunt in an area without a lot of people and are willing to sacrifice the success rate a little bit, I'm going to suggest either 81 or 15. These units are very different, 81 has fewer people and fewer elk, 15 has more elk and more people, but still fewer than the really popular areas. Plus unit 15 has wilderness for you to escape the people in.

Now, much better suggestion, if you REALLY don't want to see anyone and don't mind risking tricky weather(pluses and minuses to it), pick up a leftover 4th season bull or either sex tag, Forget the OTC tags. Go to unit 53 for an area with a decent amount of elk and very few people. Even fewer people and fewer elk, try 561.
Ok, and one last option, because I love deer hunting and want you to get something, would be to hunt either 7, 8 or 19 in 4th season with leftover elk and deer tags. The success for either species in those units is just about the worst of the major public land units in the state, but with both tags in your pocket you stand about a 25% chance of getting SOMETHING.
Let us know what and how you do.

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Location: Denver, CO
Joined: 02/19/2009
Posts: 30
Another, "Where should I go?" question

Wow, thanks a ton Exbio!

I guess I am still a bit unclear about the tags. Lets assume I do not draw anything-I could therefore buy an OTC tag for 2nd and another for 3rd season? Or do I have to pick which season I buy an OTC tag for?

One of these days I'll just head down to the DOW office and get things straight, I'm hopeless at figuring out DOW regulations online, although you helped me a ton

Greg

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Location: Colorado
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Another, "Where should I go?" question

No you cannot. You only get one opportunity at a bull, up to two for a cow. Most guys prefer to have a bull or either sex and a cow tag. The OTC tag is for bull only and you must choose either 2nd or 3rd season(can't have both). It is not valid in every unit, but it is in most units.
Either sex and cow tags are available either by drawing or through leftovers.
If you draw nothing, then you may purchase 1)either an OTC tag and a leftover cow in a List B unit,2) two list B leftover cow tags, 3) a list B and a non list B leftover cow tag, 4)a leftover eithersex or bull tag and a leftover list B cow tag.
I'm pretty sure those are the only combinations of two tags that you can have, outside of special game damage tags.

The following units have cow tags that are classified as list B, meaning you can have more than 1 elk tag if at least one of them is from this list(page 5 of your regs):
http://wildlife.state.co.us/NR/rdonlyres/3F234E0F-9A7E-4E36-9263-7DE1CE74B424/0/index_information.pdf

Clear as mud right?

Offline
Location: Denver, CO
Joined: 02/19/2009
Posts: 30
Another, "Where should I go?" question

Ok, that actually cleared it up a ton for me, thanks! I've been invited to stay at a hunting lodge for their trip down in unit 81 or 83, cant recall at the moment. They usually have some success, and its my gf's dad's place, so I'll probably be going. The bummer is, it is during the first weekend of second season. Hopefully I'll figure out a way to get more then one crack at 'em!

EDIT: I'll come back to this once I know how I fared in my deer and elk draws, and ask for some help/input about what is available to me. Just starting out is confusing!

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Location: Denver, CO
Joined: 02/19/2009
Posts: 30
Another, "Where should I go?" question

Ok, so I drew my third choice:

Cow tag, second season, GMU 45.

Anyone have any info on this area, any help? I didnt know what I was really doing when I put my application in, but what can ya do? Any help would be much appreciated.

P.S. I also drew muzzleloader deer (in unit 69 if I recall correctly), got a hunt all planned!

exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
Another, "Where should I go?" question

That's a good unit. You may as well get the 2nd season OTC bull tag also so you can shoot either sex.

Offline
Location: Denver, CO
Joined: 02/19/2009
Posts: 30
Another, "Where should I go?" question

I assume from you post that I drew a "List B" tag-enabling me to purchase an OTC tag as well? I'm having some trouble finding that list of units considered "list B"

EF045O2R

Thanks!

SoCoKHntr's picture
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Location: Pueblo Colorado
Joined: 12/18/2006
Posts: 1776
Another, "Where should I go?" question
GregB wrote:
Ok, so I drew my third choice:

Cow tag, second season, GMU 45.

Anyone have any info on this area, any help? I didnt know what I was really doing when I put my application in, but what can ya do? Any help would be much appreciated.

P.S. I also drew muzzleloader deer (in unit 69 if I recall correctly), got a hunt all planned!

69 is what I hunt and drew for muzzleloader buck as well. You should get your buck lots of legal two to three pointers and always the possibility to get into a bruiser buck if you get far enough away of others and high enough or if on private.

exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
Another, "Where should I go?" question

And yes, you can now purchase an OTC or leftover tag, as your cow tag is List B.

Offline
Location: Denver, CO
Joined: 02/19/2009
Posts: 30
Another, "Where should I go?" question

Awesome, I really appreciate all the help exbio! Do you buy all your maps (topo, etc) through DOW or a different source?

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