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Best Elk Hunting Tips

OK. So It happened. My buddy and I who are from Texas drew our 1st season rifle tag for area 54 in Colorado Oct 16-20. We are both established hunters who both rifle and bow hunt everything east texas has to offer. We have stand hunted as well as still hunted whitetails, but have ZERO experience Elk hunting, and ZERO experience hunting the mountains. We are going to backpack in and camp for the season. We have been gathering backpacking gear all year and are almost done in that department. I have most of the clothing I need as well as socks and boots. We have both been training with our packs for a few months now, and I feel we are well on our way to being as prepared as possible on the gear, safety, and health side of things.

My biggest worry now is.....how the heck do you hunt elk? My thoughts thus far are that we will show up a day or two before season and get camp set up and go out scouting for elk. I have maps and have been marking likely areas as well as been on CODW's map showing the areas where elk use both in summer, migration, and winter. I guess what we will do is get high and do some glassing. We have good binos. Is this the right strategy?

I am hoping to make it up in Aug to look around a bit. I have a friend who spends 2 weeks fishing at blue mesa and he told me to come along and he would go hike with me a few days.

I guess my real question is. What tips could you experienced successful elk hunters give us that would help improve our chances?

On a side note. Do we need to be especially careful as far as the bears go? i.e. bring air tight bear bags, etc. I know we need to hang the elk well out on a limb if we were to get one and have a small lightweight pulley system and lots of paracord for this.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks

Mike

HOGGETTER's picture
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Location: CenCal
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Re: Best Elk Hunting Tips

I dont know that area but use your topomap to find deep drainages and hunt the 7500 - 8000ft level that has no roads closer than 1 1/2 - 2 miles away.
Depending on the weather you might or might not hear the elk bugle (that is if you have bull tags.)
I wouldnt worry about the bears, its the chipmunks that will steel you blind in camp, you cant keep them little pest out of your food when packed in deep.
Good idea to get there early and let your bodies actlimate to the elevation.
Maybe pack in from the bottom so your meat pack out trips will be easier and if bad weather you'll be better safer and the elk might move down alittle.

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Location: Greeley, CO
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Re: Best Elk Hunting Tips

Some great tips and articles right here on our Div of Wildlife website....

http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/ElkHuntingUniversity/

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Re: Best Elk Hunting Tips

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ecubackpacker's picture
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Re: Best Elk Hunting Tips

Congrats on your tag Thumbs up

+1 the info already posted. A lot of info on the DOW website, scour it thoroughly and Elk Hunting University. Mike Eastman's Elk Hunting the West(?) is a good read with helpful info.

Since you're backpacking, I would pack the lightest gear you can find. Get all the gear you think you will need together. Then sort thru it to discard any item you truely won't need. Make sure you and your friend don't take duplicate items. Biggest tip is to layer your clothing. Multiple lite layers, leave the heavy clothing at home. I over packed and took the heavy clothing also. I would suggest buying Gortex if you don't already have it. You have to stay dry and warm. You'll stay warm by hiking around during the day. Good boots are a must. I use the same boots I use to backpack here. You don't need a "hunting boot" per say. A good quality, gortex boot will suffice. Gaiters will come in handy, too.

Being your first time at altitude, arrive in plenty of time to acclimate. If you can, I would arrive 4 to 5 days in advance of the season. Give you and your friend plenty of time to acclimate b/c if you go too fast and get sick, you/he will be slowing the other person down and probably getting ill at that point. Relax. Acclimate at a lower elevation for a day, maybe at the trailhead. Scout around the TH in case you get bad weather and have to retreat from the back country. Take another day to hike in farther to your next camp, scout around. You may have to move more to find elk or get away from other hunters.

If you can ride horses, I would check into renting them. They will definitely help packing in and out. What are you going to do if both of you shoot an elk on opening morning? That's a lot meat to get off the mtn in a hurry b4 it spoils. The only drawback is having to bring feed to the campsite(extra trip). I went with a llama instead. A llama doesn't need extra feed to be packed in, simple eats the vegetation around camp. Didn't need a lot water either, can go several days without. Can't ride 'um but they can pack 120 lbs or slightly more for shorter distances. Put most of your weight on the llama and take off. Hunting in 54, you would do better to trailer the llama yourself if possible. You can contact Stan @ Buckhorn Llama Co.

My 2 cents worth. Most of all- be safe and have great time. Yes

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Re: Best Elk Hunting Tips

I don't think you'll have to worry too much about bears. That time of year in Colorado they are still active packing away calories nearing hybernation. Generally as long as you keep food in airtight and bear proof containers or hang quarters high enough you should be fine. Generally black bears don't attack hunters for their elk carcass, but then again you never know. Just take precautions when storing food and be alert. Elk will begin moving lower that time of October. But it all depends on how cold it's getting. You still may get a bit winded or sick if you are not acclimated to the high country elevations, but being in peak physical condition really goes a long way towards offsetting sickness from elevation. Just take things a bit slower that you usually do. Take with you what you need on the hunt and leave the rest in camp.

By mid October the older stronger herd bulls have already done their deed and most are done mating. But you can still hunt them by finding their regular bedding areas and feeding areas and set up cover waiting for a shot there. Younger bulls will be bugling quite a bit during mid October so imitating a cow can help lure these younger stupid bulls. You may not even need to scout much to find these younger bulls. You'll hear them, the mountains will be often be echoing with enough bugles to find some elk. Good luck.

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Joined: 03/13/2010
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Re: Best Elk Hunting Tips

Great tips so far guys. I'm glad the younger bulls may still be bugling. Thats a sound I have never heard and was hoping to. Depending on how this trip goes, we may try to bow hunt next year, but it all depends on if we have any success this hunt or not. I like that I have an either sex tag, that way if I dont see a bull, but have a shot at a cow near the end of our hunt at least I can take home some delicious meat

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Re: Best Elk Hunting Tips

You'll likely find it easier backpacking in during bow season. Generally you don't need as much gear with you in late August or early September (i.e. not as much bulk or need for carrying cold weather equipment for example). Since you'll be backpacking in during mid October I will advise that you really keep on top of the weather forecasts and get weather reports via radio a couple time a day at least. So I would just keep watch on stuff like that. That's just my advise. Then again the weather here in Colorado is so unpredictable you never know what to expect. You might get some pretty beautiful weather on your trip. Hope this helps and I sure hope you guys have a great experience doing this. Big smile

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Re: Best Elk Hunting Tips

Everyone else pretty much have you covered on what to expect or do but one thing that really needs to be stressed is for you to read up on altitude sickness, it is deadly if you do not reconnise and take care of it.

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=57018

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Re: Best Elk Hunting Tips

I'm not a big spot and stalk guy, mainly because most of the places I have ended up make it difficult to see elk at significant distances. Therefore, I'm a big believer in being where you believe the elk will be. If you're glassing from an area you don't expect to run into elk, you have no chance for an opportunistic harvest. A lot of the animals I've killed I have come upon failry suddenly. So be where you expect to see elk. On their trails, meadows, or saddles you expect to find them in or canyons or timber you expect them to be hiding in.

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And?

And? How did you do?

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