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mav
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Joined: 12/28/2008
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Colorado elk statistics?

I've lurked here for a while, taking in the collective wisdom of the board. I've also been going over the elk statistics on the Colorado DOW's website. I am a nonresident. I've never hunted in Colorado or for elk anywhere. I have a question about the hunting success rates.
I have been comparing the success rates of bull versus cow hunters in a number of the GMUs that I see mentioned frequently plus a couple others that I am considering. I'm surprised to see that in most cases the success rate for bull hunters is as good or even better than that of the cow hunters. Unit 24 is the exception.
Does the higher number of cow tags issued lower the rate of success or does the herd behavior (more eyes, ears and noses) make them more difficult to hunt?
Some of the advise I hear suggests applying for a cow tag while acquiring preference points (for a bull tag in the future) and gaining knowledge of the area. I had assumed that the cow tag choice increased your odds of success, but it looks to me to not necessarily be the case.
I forgot to mention, I am looking at muzzleloader and rifle seasons. I realize the units I am looking at do not represent the whole elk hunting picture in Colorado.
Any input will be appreciated. Please feel free to correct any misconceptions I may have. Thank in advance.

hellomcfly's picture
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Location: Denver Colorado
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Posts: 328
Re: Colorado elk statistics?

I think it's because they tend to give out more cow tags than bull tags in most units which would effect the harvest percentage. you can put in for a preference point and still get a bull tag without applying for one. there are many areas in colorado that you can hunt over the counter. You can buy over the counter bull tags for 2nd or 3rd rifle season and you have a choice of units all over the state to hunt.

mav
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Colorado elk statistics?

hellomcfly,
thanks for the input. Instead of getting a cow tag, what do you think of a grouse hunting, trout fishing trip as a way to get to know the lay of the land? We would still apply for a preference point. Then maybe apply for a cow tag the next year. Thanks again.

exbiologist's picture
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Colorado elk statistics?

I believe it has more to do with folks harvesting cows as a target of opportunity. If someone has a bull tag in his pocket, he may pass up a group of cows hoping to get that bull. If you have both tags, and you see a herd with a bull in it, which are you going to shoot? Then once someone harvests, they don't often go back out trying to fill that cow tag.

Centennial's picture
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Location: Front Range, CO
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Colorado elk statistics?

Mav, there is no substitute for having first hand knowledge of terrain when elk hunting. Either way (cow or grouse or just hiking) time in the exact area you plan on hunting is a significant key to shooting an elk. You will want to be able to walk to and from hunting areas in the dark or inclement weather. You will want to know before the season where those areas are.

Kudos that you are willing to spend the time and money on a scouting trip. Make the most of the trip and cover a lot of terrain. Bring your equipment for a good shakeout. What ever you do, dont pass up the preference points. There is great muzzleloading in Colorado for 1 PP. Especially if you know the area.

Centennial.

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Location: Montana
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Colorado elk statistics?
exbiologist wrote:
I believe it has more to do with folks harvesting cows as a target of opportunity. If someone has a bull tag in his pocket, he may pass up a group of cows hoping to get that bull. If you have both tags, and you see a herd with a bull in it, which are you going to shoot? Then once someone harvests, they don't often go back out trying to fill that cow tag.

In addition to this, I believe that people hunting bulls may have spent more time and effort trying to get a bull than those trying to get a cow. Check out the recreation days and compare that with the number of hunters. I am guessing the days/hunter for cows is less than that of bulls

hellomcfly's picture
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Location: Denver Colorado
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Colorado elk statistics?

i agree with these guys, anything that will get you in the field is good, whether you're grouse hunting or fishing or even just camping. Getting to know your area can be a very good way to increase your odds of taking an elk

mav
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Joined: 12/28/2008
Posts: 8
Colorado elk statistics?

Thanks to all for the responses. I never really considered hunting out west until my oldest son recently moved to Colorado for a new job. I would like to be able to combine family visits with scouting trips. To give us the most opportunity to get to know an area we will probably limit our choices of GMUs to those about two hours drive from the southern Denver suburbs. That way we can become more familiar with one of those areas than one we can't visit as often.
Through some online research we've decided to initially concentrate on units 49 and 501. I've found some mention of 49 on this site. I guess 501 is one of the "crowd control" units. If I'm reading the DOW stats correctly, 49 appears to have a higher elk population, requires more preference points (4 for 1st rifle bull), and has more hunters. 501 appears to be a fairly large unit (at least for the Front Range) and has pretty high percentage of public land. 501 only required 1 point this last season for EM1R. The hunting success rate for 1st rifle bull the previous two seasons was near 50%. (I'll be looking for 2008's) Does anyone have any experience with unit 501 particularly the Lost Creek Wilderness?
The online research only goes so far. The real test will be where the rubber meets the road or in this case where the boot leather meets the mountain.
Thanks again for any and all replies.

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