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ducknbuck15's picture
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Back Country- How Far?

Seems to me the threads of people asking:  which state, which unit, which spot, which trail to hunt are a dime dozen on webforums.  No one is going to give up their honeyhole or at least very unlikely.  But in the good spirit of hunters, people try to help.  The most common response I see is Go Deep!

Like many others I am in the planning stage of a DIY elk hunt. I have narrowed my choice of units in CO to a few and will begin to pour over maps after this coming deer season.  The hunt will be me and a friend backpack/camp during archery next fall. 

Finally, my question.  When people say go deep, get off the trail, how far is realistic?  Obviously the father is probably better but realistically that is not always feasible.  We for sure want to get away from as many other hunters as possible, and ideally get on elk that have felt very little human pressure.  I was thinking a reasonable range for camp would be between 4-8 miles from the trail head.  Is this unreasonable?

Thanks-  Chris

WesternHunter's picture
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how deep?

Can you travel 8 miles on foot while moving at a hunters pace, as in still hunting or spot & stalk, especially over rugged terrain?  Something to seriously ask yourself.  To me that seems a bit (way) far for one to be able to travel and a lot of ground to cover in one day on foot.  While hunting I typically don't move all that fast anyway. Rapid movements scare and alert game.

In my experience you lose a great deal of the hunting pressure buy going anywhere from 1 mile to 3 miles away from a road or trail.  Sometimes even going as little a 1/2 mile really helps in some areas.  It all depends on how easy or difficult the terrain too and what the habitat is like.  Personally I can't and won't cover much more than 4 miles on foot in one day while still hunting or spot/stalking in the area that I frequently hunt.  I think getting much more than 3 miles on foot is pushing it if you don't have ATVs or 4x4 road access going in close. Keep in mind that no matter how far you can go, just remember you still need to bring that animal out if you fill your tag and you will likely need to make as many as five trips back and forth.  Also I advise taking into consideration the season and type of weather you're likely to encounter.  Just don't get too far from truck or camp that you can't get out safely if a blizzard or storm moves in. On a good clear day with no hint of foul weather forcast, figure how many hours of daylight you have in that day, then figure how far you can travel on foot while still hunting in half that time of daylight.  This is the maximum you should go in on foot.  

ducknbuck15's picture
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Thanks for the info Western. 

Thanks for the info Western.  My tentative plan was to spend 1day getting in/1 day getting out with 8 days hunting in the middle.  I hadn't planned on still hunting on way in or out unless obvious circumstances warranted it. As I mentioned we will be hunting archery in early Sept so hopefully won't have to worry about blizzards, but I'm sure they have had them before so I will heed your advice.

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Like was said, once you get

Like was said, once you get more than a mile from the road the majority of people or hunters really start to thin out quickly. If hunting from the get go the the advice given is perfect but if your planning to hike in to camp and then hunt from there I think your idea of the 5 mile range is totally within reason. Especially if you have a decent trail to use when it's time to start hauling camp and hopefully meat back down off of the mountain.

A game cart of some kind could make the job that much easier if you have one.

SGM
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Distance

Distance will depend on where you are hunting but if you are in the 3-5 mile range you should be fine. Being on foot does limit you to some degree. As stated you have to account for packing all gear in and out and an extra 300-500 pound of elk is allot of work. A game cart is a great idea unless you go into a wilderness area where it is not allowed. Also be sure to check your maps. You can go in 3-5 miles from one trail area and be only 1 mile from a different trail or trail head or even possibly stumble on top of an outfitters camp. One last thing to consider is the weather. I have been hunting in mid September when it is 80 degrees and also been snowed in with a foot or more of snow making trails and some forest service roads impassable for days. Good luck and good hunting.

WesternHunter's picture
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distance

I might have slightly misunderstood the original question.  The advice I gave above is based on a hunter getting to a hunting area before sunrise from camp or base.  I was talking about how far or how much ground one can expect to reasonably cover per day while actually hunting an area. 

On the other hand if you are actually backpacking in to set up camp then for sure 8 miles isn't unreasonable at all, but typically hunters don't hunt right where they camp, so figure a hunting area of around 2 to 3 miles from camp. You just want to be close enough to get to your actual hunting area before sunrise, regardless of where you are camping or basing, typically 1 to 3  miles is within reason to do that.

ducknbuck15's picture
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Thanks for all the great info

Thanks for all the great info guys!  Keep it Coming.  

Critter's picture
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It is often interesting when

It is often interesting when hunters say that they are going to backpack in 10 miles off of a road to do their hunting.  What I find interesting is that if you look at a map of your area very seldom are you really that far from a road, that is as long as you are in the lower 48 states.  I once took a hike and when I got home I dug out a map and figured that I had covered 17 miles as I wandered up and down and around the area that I was hunting.  The funny part is that at no time was I further than 1 or 2 miles from a actual road that was open to travel.  Now it may of been quite a bear to of hiked to that road but it was there none the less and I could of headed to it even if my truck was the other direction.  Even here in Colorado in some of the wilderness areas once you leave the trail head you could find another road that would end at the boundary within a couple of miles. 

Now this isn't saying that getting away from the "hunting traffic" isn't a good thing, and you can usually do it by just hiking past the half mile range.  Most hunters do not or do they want to travel very much further.  I remember a elk hunt that I was on in Utah many years ago.  I thought that I was in the middle of nowhere and figured that there wasn't another hunter with in miles of me.  I shot my elk and the next day I finished packing him out I heard a noise.  I looked up on the ridge line and saw a truck as the hunters got out of it and start to glass.  I had packed my elk out about 4 miles one way over two days and if I would of known that the road existed I could of had him packed out in one.  To this day that road is still there and I still hunt that same canyon but now I hunt it smarter and come in from the top instead of the bottom.   

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Google Earth is a hunters

Google Earth is a hunters friend. I'd like to have a dollar for every hour i've stared at it.

WesternHunter's picture
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roads

There's lots of good hunting areas out there that are often bound on all sides by roads or trails or a combo of both.  As Critter said, there are areas here that you can't walk very far in before you're already on your way out.

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Some good points here! I hunt

Some good points here! I hunt solo and usually backpack in,but I only go up to 5 miles from my truck and usually uphill from it.Getting older and smarter. I also usually wind up just a couple miles or less from it. I look for areas with no roads and get in the middle of it. Let the folks in the surrounding places send them to me.And rarely see a footprint more than a mile from the road.Carrying camp with you and coyoteing it out to stay on the critters is an option.But the last couple years its been a spike camp maybe a couple miles in and hunt from there.Last year I was camped 2 miles from my truck and one day I wound up going 14 miles in one day,never more than a few miles from my rig.

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