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Location: Corpus Christi,Tx
Joined: 04/16/2009
Posts: 9
CO Wilderness Unit 75 Archery elk

My brother and I are planning an archery elk hunt in the northern reaches of unit 75 below Silverton,CO in Sept. 09. A brief history: I have several elk hunts under my belt since 1984 but it will be his first so I want him to experience classic elk country and remoteness. I had the fortune of being able to hunt elk several times with our Dad before he unexpectedly passed away and my brother never had that opportunity. So in reality this hunt has been a long time coming. A little bit healing at the same time.lThis time it's more about the "experience" and if we are successful, then that's just icing on the cake. Our plan is to ride the NGR from Durango and get off on the Elk Park stop and hike in East up Elk Creek Trail # 503. We are experienced backpack hiker/scampers/hunters etc. We have scaled our equipment down (meaning ultra lightweight) and have good equipment. I know this area is sheep shape country so we know what we are getting our selves into. We are hoping that the remoteness should discourage all but those willing to put forth the hard effort. I know a couple of guys that have hunted this area before,during and after muzzleloader season and they saw very few hunters and a fair amount of elk.They saw cows and bulls everyday but didn't always connect.
From what I understand 75 is an OTC unit.
Questions:
Should we get our tags thru the CDW early or are there issues with picking them up at a sporting goods store in Durango when we arrive?
Hunt dates are Sept 17th-25th during the new moon phase.
Does anyone have any experience in this area? We are not locked in to this area and any recomendations would be appreciated.
I've hunted units 10,11, 711,78, 71& 70 in the past and also unit 4 in NM.
Just looking for something different. Thanks in advance guys for any advise,tips,pointers,etc.

exbiologist's picture
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CO Wilderness Unit 75 Archery elk

I heard about that recently on another forum. It sounds kinda ballsy. It's my understanding that where the train stops, you have to climb 2-3000 feet out of the canyon. Doable, but not easy. I personally think hunting by train kind of limits your range because you won't be able to pack the truck up and go somewhere else if you don't like where you are.
I'm sure it will be a lot of fun though.

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Location: Front Range, CO
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CO Wilderness Unit 75 Archery elk

I lived in Durango for 7 years and have Muzzleloaded Crazy woman, Grasshopper, and Tank creeks but always came in from Henderson Lake. If I still lived there, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back into that area with a great deal of confidence. It’s breathtaking and definitely has elk. It’s also steep and rugged country and hiking in from the tracks with 9 days worth of food and supplies is very, very ambitious. Especially coming from a lower elevation and taking on a timberline elk hunt.
The train trip certainly would add to the “experience”, so a good choice for your goals but you may want to consider it an excursion for a day you need a break. Just a thought. Getting into the area on Missionary Ridge Road/Henderson Lake puts you higher and would enable you to take enough supplies to last the length of the hunt. Drive as far as you can then try to put in a back pack camp on the ridge between Grasshopper and Crazywoman near timberline. That will set you up to hunt several different drainages. Believe me, the whole area will feel like a wilderness after you have hiked three miles. Hope this helps.

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Location: Corpus Christi,Tx
Joined: 04/16/2009
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CO Wilderness Unit 75 Archery elk

Thanks for the advice guys. I like your idea Centennial about the Grasshopper/Crazywoman area and being able to hunt several different drainages. I have talked to a few other hunters that also mentioned this area so it has struck a cord with me. Sounds much more doable. We would definitley be limited going up Elk Creek , although its about 9-10 miles long it's an extremely steep climp to go up and over to the next drainage if we wanted. Certainly confining. Exbiologist, I also like your advice on staying mobile and being able to pickup and move if you need to. That's the same advise that I give to guys that want to come down and fish Padre Island National Seashore. It's 63 miles of extremely rough 4x4 only beach but you have to stay mobile in order to find the fish. It's ok to set up camp but always stay mobile.
What's the Missionary Ridge road like? Rough 4x4?
How popular is it with other bow hunters?
Thanks again guys for the advice.

Centennial's picture
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Location: Front Range, CO
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CO Wilderness Unit 75 Archery elk

SBack, the area is popular but don’t dont worry, there are plenty of elk and country to hunt them in. Especially if you are willing to hike as you seem to be. By the time you get back into Crazywoman, few others have that kind of determination because you literally drive past great elk country all the way up the Missionary Ridge road. I never saw another person when I hunted those drainages…this was in the 80s but not that much has changed since then. Elk are where they are and they will be in that area.
The road to Henderson is open to cars; just a gravel FS road. Past Henderson it gradually gets a little more difficult until eventually you need a good 4X4, especially if there is snow/rain. But, you can go a long ways. Certainly it will get you closer in both distance and elevation to where you would want to camp than hiking from the train. The more ambitious you are in terms of hiking in a camp, the fewer people you will see. There should be good water so you can filter which really helps. If you can hunt for a week in this area, I would be shocked if you never had an opportunity especially that time of year. But again, this is high altitude and you need to be in great cardiovascular shape. Hope this helps.

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Location: Corpus Christi,Tx
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CO Wilderness Unit 75 Archery elk

thanks Centennial, that is some good sound advice. I was looking at some maps last night and it shows that road going a long , long ways in. Definitley easier access but will take some effort getting to the ridge you talked about which isn't an issue for us. It looks like a good vantage point to hunt any one of the three creeks/valleys. It opens up a lot of country for an ambitious hunter.
The road takes you almost all the way to Tank Mesa, just west of there. It's good to know that there is plenty of water for filtering. Just 21 weeks away but can't wait. I guess the time will be here before you know it.
Again, thanks for all of the agood advice.

Joined: 10/01/2009
Posts: 2
CO Wilderness Unit 75 Archery elk

Well Texas I saw your plates parked at the gate! How did it go? I really really hope you didnt show up on the day you had planned because it looked like you were already in there. Did you show up prior to your date and get aclimated to the elevation at lower elevation or just go for it??? I went after basically one of the only bulls I found in the area at about 12,500 the first evening and started spinning, sick to my stomache, headache, etc. and actually had to give up on that high elevation bull for the day (something I never thought I would do!!) A few days later I got back on the bull only to have a herd of about 200 sheep get herded by me in the same canyon....... Hope all went well and hope the poor hiker loosing his life near by and all the search and rescue (airplaines, helicopters and all) didnt hinder your hunt. God bless the hikers family!

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CO Wilderness Unit 75 Archery elk

4 x 4, I had the same experience with sheep in that area on a July scouting trip except there were twice as many sheep. So much for the wilderness experience. Think Curious to what happened with the hiker? Not trying to hijack this post, just curious as I haven't any news about the situation.

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CO Wilderness Unit 75 Archery elk

We actually got up there thursday 17th afternoon. We were in the White Tahoe. We took our time and hunted slow for the first couple of days and didn't really have any issues except for sore hips from constantly climbing. The weather really was terrible in the afternoons though,hail, sleet, lightening, rain. I think we had it all. Nothing like a Thunderstorm in the mountains when your 11,000 feet closer to the source.
We did see some really good bulls back in there but just couldn't get close enough quickly to get a shot. We did watch a 330 ish Bull with a bunch of cows and two smaller bulls for two afternoons in a row across a canyon come out in the same meadow about an hour before dark, but we didn't bring our "Billy Goat " shoes or our helicopter to get to him. I think you would have had to hike to Canada to get around to get to him. That was definitley some of the roughest country I have ever hunted. Did you happen to see the Honda CRV that wrecked up there? We had moved camp down lower on the last night we were there and a group of kids came flying by with the radio cranked , partying...etc.. and my brother made the comment that "there goes trouble". Well, about 11:00 that night a couple of them came walking into our camp and startled us both , being the gentlemen that we are, they were escorted out of camp by Browning & Glock. They had a flat but didn't have the tools to fix it and ours wouldn't work for them. They tried to drive down the mountain on a flat front tire and ended up T-bone on an Aspen.
We stayed there until Monday morning, then packed up and went to Cahone and hunted below Glade Mt, where my dad and I used to hunt every year. It had been 17 years since I had last been there since our Dad passed away. My brother wanted to see where we used to hunt because he was too young to go with us back then. We got into elk everyday over there and had a great time. I launched an arrow at a 6x5 but there was an invisible limb in the way and completely missed. Between the two of us we had 4 shot opportunities but the Oak brush was just too thick for a clear shot and we were not going to chance a wounded animal.
Allready making plans for next year though.

Joined: 10/01/2009
Posts: 2
CO Wilderness Unit 75 Archery elk

ecubackpacker - most of my info is third hand since it happened the week before we got there but,,,,,, Many people told us the story but a nice guy that we met while sitting at stxoutbacks camp prior to hiking in to tank mesa. The guy had just hiked out of the same spot as stxoutback and the week prior he had planes and helicopters all over him so he was like what the heck I am out of here and when he hiked back to his blue tent (same color as missing hiker) he had two horsemen apologizing for going through his stuff looking for ID. The hiker and his dad had split or gotten split up and the son never showed up. They found his body at the bottom of a 300 foot cliff and his backpack at the top??????? That is all I know. As for missionary ridge we left after three days of what I would call NOT WHAT I EXPECTED COLORADO TO BE. The average daily traffic was insane until muzzle loader ended and then it was OK. We only visually saw three elk which one we called in and it was a spike. We did battle the bull that we had in to 20 but never saw him or his cows thanks to the sheep.

Funny you say way more sheep because I didnt figure anyone would believe 300-400 so I stuck to 200. We got out of there and tried unit 70 which had way more elk but 35-40 mph winds at all times. (saw a few elk and a few bulls one about 320) We then tried another area that had a few elk but were actually screaming! Then it was on and we had a lot more fun. I will say though that when we arrrived at missionary ridge we stopped at the sign (1am or so) and I ripped a bugle and it was on!! I thought holy crud I love Colorado!!!! (unfortunately I thought it was private) By day three I hated Colorado and by day 10 it was ok but I wouldnt be back anywhere near the areas we tried. I guess maybe I just expected more elk than that for COLORADO!! Laugh FYI we saw 21 elk in 10 days of very hard hunting- no driving! and only twice glassed a couple elk in meadows to go after. The way I figure it is if there are aprox. 2.5 elk per acre in colorado and you minus the three units we hunted there are a ton of elk in the rest of colorado We did see a cougar that I drew my bow on........ Oops I learned they are called mountain lions in Colorado.

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