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walkin's picture
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Location: Camp David MD
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Co gmu 53

Hoping one of you fine Colorado hunters could give me some advice on units 53 and or 63. We are applying for Co GMU 53 as first choice as a group of 8 ,and 63 for second choice.Everybody but me has 5 pts I have seven , I think we will get drawn. I was told we can stay in a cabin on private land between the two units and it affords us good acces to 53, they seem to think the access from the public on the other side is a long way,hopefully cutting down the crowd , does anyone have any experience with 53, We do not. Thanks Walkin Chris

elkkill06's picture
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Location: Fruita Colorado
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Co gmu 53

Welcome walkin ! I don't know much about unit 53 or unit 63. I have a buddy that hunts unit 53 for elk and says he sees quite a few and I here of a couple decent bulls that come out of there every year.

I looked up the preference points in unit 53 or 63 and they do not take preference points to draw a tag in these units. What season were you guys planning on hunting ? There is no way I would waiste 7 points on an OTC unit.

Just my thought. Good luck and good hunting !

walkin's picture
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Location: Camp David MD
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Co gmu 53

We put in for oct 31-nov 6 I guess that is the 3rd season. We put in for deer and were going to get elk tags over the counter. The other guys have been hunting a ranch over by Carbondale I think that was mostly truck hunting. I hunted the flat tops once and killed my first elk a 5x5. Hunted NM 2x passed a shooter every day the first year and harvested a nice 6x7 350'' the second. Have never shot at a muley,seen a few. We did the caribou thing last year, that was an excursion. Really looking forward to some chalenging hunting, turnin 50 in a month and1/2.The other fellows talked about getting one elk tag just in case , my research is telling me to get a tag for myself, they can fight over the other one. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I try to swing one good hunt a year as long as I can get away with it .

exbiologist's picture
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Co gmu 53

Now that application season is over, I can admit that I applied there for the same season for deer. I don't imagine I'll add an elk tag, but that will depend on how all my drawings work out. The stats really jumped out at me for that unit, but I still haven't been there yet. The snows are melting and I'll have access to the low country and will go scouting soon.
In looking at the landownership, I don't see how private land access will help you any. It is over 90% public.

walkin's picture
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Location: Camp David MD
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Co gmu 53

Don't know if it is true or not but the landowner is telling us the access to most of it is from the other side,looking at the maps it doesn't look that far off. Either way it looks like good success rates. Apparently winter kill from the previous year wasn't awful. Will there be people accessing with four wheelers? Looks like a lot of it is wilderness.

exbiologist's picture
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Co gmu 53

If they are using 4 wheelers, they sure won't be doing it legally. In Colorado you're pretty much stuck to the established roads. Which is a good thing for guys like me who don't have a 4 wheeler and would be pissed if I saw someone with one off the road or in a wilderness area (which by definition shouldn't have any roads)

walkin's picture
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kinda jealous

I am feeling better that you ,after looking closely at the stats decided to put in for this unit, kinda jealous that you can scout it, but good for you, I shouldn't be. Is the unit pretty much all wilderness? I would be happy if there are no roads,It looks like 10-20% chance on an elk,I'm guessing it's worthwhile for me, being from MD, but I can see your point. You can kinda figure where we will be coming in from( if we get drawn) any help you can give me I would be grateful.

exbiologist's picture
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Co gmu 53

A lot of Eastern guys don't know that wilderness here has an actual meaning, it doesn't just refer to deep woods. A federally designated wilderness area, of which half of unit 53 is(West Elk Wilderness), means no roads, no wheeled vehicles, no chainsaws, no game carts, no motorized boats, no bicycles and some other land use and management designations. But the important thing for hunters is the no wheeled anything. I like wilderness because it gaurantees(or should) that nobody will be charging around on 4 wheelers. It's also easier to plan for because you know there won't be a new road cut or area logged, or road closed(because there aren't any).
I don't stand much chance of actually drawing the tag, as I only have 1 point. That's all that's needed, but it's still only about 25% chance. 2 points would ensure it for residents.
I haven't decided whether or not I will elk hunt here, but that also depends on the drawings. If so, I'll probably hunt more of the east end and central portions. If deer only, I'll be around the west along the wilderness boundary. The deer and elk migrate east to west, but don't count on the elk moving without serious snow. The deer are a little more predictable and this is the pre-rut. Where exactly will depend on scouting, of which I won't do much of till late June.

walkin's picture
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Location: Camp David MD
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Co gmu 53

I have never hunted in an area with motorized vehicles, what your telling me is my dream hunt. I'm hoping to get out a few days early to scout a little,hoping not to run the animals out. . Not exactly sure what to expect, ttrying to get into good shape ,it does look like some challenging land. The natl forest on the sw side should I expect vehicles? Thanks again

exbiologist's picture
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Co gmu 53

There's only a handful of roads in the whole area, and the southwest area is where much of the pressure will be(which really won't be very much, I hope). The far west end is entirely private, but the majority of the roads leading to public hunting grounds is on the west end. There's really only 7 roads leading into the BLM and Forest Service grounds and I don't see how the road between 53 and 63 really gets you much access that you couldn't get for free. You still won't be very far from the wilderness Area if you really want to ditch everyone else. More than likely there will be plenty of deer on the private ground, but if you're after elk, you may want to venture in a ways.
I've personallly never paid for any kind of hunting access(outside public/private agreements), so that's why I'm hesitant to encourage you paying for some kind of access in an area that is 90% public. If you're really looking for the wilderness experience, there are spots in the West Elks that are over 10 miles from the nearest road (that really is a long way in the mountains, probably 30 miles if you flattened it out)
Here is the landownership. Green is forest service, yellow BLM, white private. The dark line in the middle of the green is the West Elk Wilderness Boundary. The blue line is the boundary.

walkin's picture
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Location: Camp David MD
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map

Thanks for the info and the map. These guys I'm goin with have basically been hunting on a ranch near Carbondale ,I believe the owner of the ranch has a cabin on 53. I think we are giving him 3or400 ea. to be able to stay in the cabin for a week. I think most of the guys will hunt close to it ,I was basically planning on taking a 3-5 mi hike to get back in the wilderness . What is a good map to see the roads . Will there be 4 wheelers on the forest service roads and land or is that illegal (I hope)also?. Did you guys get dumped on with that last storm? My kids are keeping me busy it's 80 here for a change .
Thanks again