Just got the word the other day I'm going out to Colorado somewhere around Durango in late-Oct, early-Nov Rifle season! This is my first mule deer trip and my first out of alabama hunting trip at that.
I have lived in Southwest Colorado (Cortez) for 37 years. If any of you guys need any information about hunting Durango or Dolores areas let me know. I will try to answer any questions that you might have.
Yes, elk are plentiful around Pagosa Springs. As far as size, any legal elk is a very big animal. I strongly recommend you take the first legal bull you see. You have time later to be more picky. Big-uns are few and far between, but they are out if you really get lucky or get far enough from a road..
One of the most important components of deciphering a new hunting area is distinguishing between the summer and winter ranges for the game that you plan to pursue. Without knowing this you cannot make reliable assumptions about where the game will be come opening day. Knowing these areas will allow you to take the current weather (as well as the past couple weeks) and apply that to the landscape and make an educated guess as to where you might find that big buck or bull.
There are a couple ways...