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derek1's picture
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colorado elk area 76

I currently have 8 preference points for elk in colorado. I am planning to use these points for an archery tag in one of the trophy areas. 201, 61, 76, etc.. I know i have a good chance of getting drawn for 76 in 2009. Does anyone have any input.

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colorado elk area 76

76 is a good option for archery. The trophy quality is there, but the elk density is about half that of unit 61. The one problem with 61 is the popularity of 62. There is obviously mixing across the Uncompahgre plateau, and they pound em hard in 62. Between 61 and 62, hunters kill nearly 40% of the bulls every year (by my calculations). 61 is a lot better and with lower pressure, but the effect of 62 is always going to hang over that herd. What is your goal? Are you hoping to kill the biggest bull possible? Have a wilderness archery hunt? Are you willing to gun hunt? Do you want to see a lot of bulls? Can you wait it out a few more years?
The far northwest corner is the hardest to draw, but that's where the best trophy potential is due to the lack of pressure. But the densities are even less than unit 76.

derek1's picture
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colorado elk area 76

Thank you so much for your reply, I have been hunting Colorado public ground for several years with gun and bow with OTC tags. I love to bow hunt the elk rut. I have been building points hoping to be able to hunt with the possiblity of killing a P&Y bull. However, any 300 plus bull would tickle me with a bow. I am a nonresident and I know that 61 will probably be a once in a lifetime tag for me. I hear that it takes 10-11 points to get drawn for 61 and 6-8 to get drawn for 76. They also tell me that the northern trophy areas will take 14-17 pts for a nonresident, so I don't think these areas would be an option for me. I would not mind hunting with a muzzleloader but I prefer the bow. I am 38 yrs old now and my thinking is I could get drawn for 76 and possibly be drawn again before I am to old to climb the mountains, but if one of the other areas is a much better option I would be willing to wait.
I am not familiar with these areas and your input is greatly appreciated.

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colorado elk area 76

Derek,
I didn't realize you were a non resident. That puts 61 totally out of reach for you with any weapon(12 points for archery), and you'll need about twice as many points to get into any northwestern unit. Your only options right now are units 76 and 40. Those are the only two trophy hunts that 8 nonresident points will get you into for archery. And 40 only requires 3 points, or 8 for muzzleloader.
If you want to use a rifle, you can also draw 76 or 40 with 8 points or less in 2nd or 3rd season on each.
Quick bit of stats that you won't get anywhere else:
unit elk per sq mi %bulls harvested yearly
40 6.95 14%
76,79 3.37 22.3%

79 is not a trophy unit but is included in the data analysis with 76 and sort of dilutes the stats. Either way, you can hunt twice as many elk in 40 and the trophy potential is pretty similar (only 14% of bulls 2 years and older harvested per year, probably about that in just unit 76). To me, the data says go with 40, plus you'll be able to draw again before you are in your 50s. However, 40 is a canyon country unit, not a picturesque wilderness hunt like 76. There is also only 12 square miles of Forest Service land in 40, and it is an island surrounded by private ground. So I'd guess that the pressure gets very concentrated. One other thing, ony 85 archery hunters in 40 and 281 last year in 76, but 76 has way more land.
I hope this helps you make a decision. But keep in mind you can draw one or both again in your huntable lifetime. Or you can hold out for 7-9 more years for one shot at the northwest units.

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colorado elk area 76

Correction:
You can get into 61 for any rifle season, but not archery or muzzleloader.
6.3 elk per square mile, 40% of bulls 2 and up harvested yearly. Of course it is diluted by unit 62, but the density of elk should be the same and the trophy quailty is marginally better, but not nearly as good as 40, or 76.

derek1's picture
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colorado elk area 76

Thank you very much for the data. It help me with my decision. Did I understand correctly that I could possible be drawn for the rifle hunts in 61?

exbiologist's picture
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colorado elk area 76

I'm sorry I misread the preference points, I was looking at the resident column. It takes about 12 for a rifle hunt or archery hunt in 61. 6-8 points would get you in as a resident.
Sorry about the confusion.

derek1's picture
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colorado elk area 76

If I choose to put in for area 40 and it only requires 3-4 points, do I lose the remainder of my preference points.?

Again thanks for the information

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colorado elk area 76

Yep you lose em all. Although the DOW will occasionally run a deal where you can keep excess preference points, but you can't count on it. I think they did this two years ago.

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colorado elk area 76

I am hearing that unit 40 would be tough for a non resident to navigate with so much private land in the area. The last thing I want to do is accidently get on private land. What are your thoughts?

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colorado elk area 76

There are a few large, contiguous blocks of land that the elk congregate on, but most of it is on the 12 square miles of Grand Mesa National Forest in Unit 40. Of course, that's also the best spot. But when you put the last 4 years average of 90 hunters during muzzleloader season, its gonna get a little crowded and the elk are going to move. I haven't actually hunted it myself, but this scenario seems likely. Then you've got to go find the elk on the poorly marked BLM canyons. I'll enclose a land ownership overview. Keep in mind the northern BLM isn't great elk habitat. There's also an elk usage map faded over the land ownership map from my favorite little remote scouting tool. It shows elk barely using the upper reaches of the Palisades Wilderness, Ryan Park and Bangs Canyon. But you can see much of their usage is on private land. If I only had 4 points, I'd go for it, but the more I think about it, it's hard to stomach using 8 points on such a spotty area. But then if you look at the stats, it looks pretty good. Especially, when you consider that great elk density must be considerably higher because they clearly don't use the whole unit evenly. So maybe 90 dudes in 12 square miles isn't really that bad, and many of them are going to be cow hunters. Oh, and you have to add in a few bowhunters. But, that's going to be an issue in 76 also. But 76 is a HUGE area of wilderness. I guess one other thing in favor of unit 40 is that the best water sources are all reservoirs on the forest service land. So, while the elk might get scattered after the first day (and maybe you'll be tagged out), they may come back to public land to water. Units 40 and 76 average about 30% success with muzzleloaders, which is way above average, so clearly someone must be getting into them.
I'd say if you've never hunted elk before, go with 76 as it would be more enjoyable. But since it seems like you have, this is probably a more reliable way to get a trophy bull. Even if you don't tag, you'll probably see more elk than you've seen with a weapon in hand before.
Or maybe, they'll all be staring at you from private ground, just outside the national forest.
Hope I was some sort of help.

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