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dotkayk's picture
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Posts: 8
critique my CO hunt plan, please..

 

so my son (14) and I are going to stumble hopefully into the woods again this elk season (first rifle). I grew up in South Africa, where all the hunting is private and very expensive, so we have no useful experience of big game hunting.
We have tried twice before, documented  here  
http://dkretzmann.blogspot.com/2010/11/fourth-season.html
here
http://dkretzmann.blogspot.com/2011/09/elk-fortress.html
and here
http://dkretzmann.blogspot.com/2011/10/armed-hiking.html
 
Let me first say a fervent 'thank you' to exbiologist. I've learned more from his posts here than any dozen of the books I've read. We will probably return hungry and very-well-hunted again, but at least have a few more things to try this time.

We're going to make a spike camp in unit 28. I had not expected to draw this unit for him, so most scouting has been via Google Earth and the forums. The main reason for the spike camp is I don't have a 4wd, the minivan can't quite hack it on the kind of roads that lead near elk. Also I just plain like camping in the woods: my son would prefer something with a better chance of shooting action, but when he takes me hunting in a few years, he can make the plan.. I'm in fair shape from running, he's a competitive swimmer, so we should be OK in the unlikely event that we need to pack out a beast.

One hike in bow-hunting season found several bow-hunters, more water and general wetness than I'd expected, but no fresh sign either bottom (S Fork creek, to 5 miles from trailhead) or top (per report of some backpackers off Ptarmigan Peak). The Kinney Cr trail is heavily hiker-travelled, so did not seem very promising, nice cutts in Horseshoe lake though.

Here's my hunt plan. Please criticize it with any helpful suggestions..

day 0, Fri: leave after school 4pm, trailhead by 6pm, hike in and make camp in the dark. Camp will be on the N Fork a couple of miles in, back in the woods and well out of any meadows. I have a couple of spots on the GPS.
Q: should we rather try for an pre-dawn hike in on Sat, hoping to surprise someone in the meadows ?
Not sure if they would be as low as that, though.

day 1:

morning: creep out predawn to sit above meadows further along on N Fork 
midday: skulk through the woods to various benches/wet spots that I've internet-scouted only, hm, then linger hopefully nearby quietly. Will try 'lost cow' and calf calls (hoochie mama) for a few minutes every hour. 
evening: climb high and glass for signs of life until dusk, next day's hunt based on what if anything observed.  
following days: repeat pattern on different drainages 
It's possible the elk will all have skedaddled into the Fraser Experimental Forest drainage, which is closed for the timber operations this year. Also I have a nasty suspicion the beasts turn nocturnal after a day or two, spending all day in the dark woods and moving only after dark. In that case the internet-scouting won't be very helpful, there are hundreds of acres of dark wood where they might be, and the time I didn't put in with boots on the ground will be sadly missed. 
We may move operations to Strawberry Cr, but that is relatively close to the road, so may have been pounded out by the time we get there. I dunno.. 
Parenthetically, we're taking a bunch of Boy Scouts on a backpack into Eagle's Nest this weekend, will report back if anything interesting seen up there.. 

 

hunter25's picture
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Location: Colorado western slope
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I don't know the area but it

I don't know the area but it sounds like your plans are well thought out. You have the determination and the right idea just need to find where the elk are.

Just a question but why focus so strongly on elk for your first animals? Deer are usually easier to find and more plentiful depending on unit. Or better yet antelope in Wyoming for starter hunts.

I do understand though that elk are a magnificent animal, even getting a cow is great. I wish you the best of luck. Eventually you will get then and hopefully it's this time.

exbiologist's picture
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Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
lots to cover here

Well for starters, hopefully you know my opinion on unit 28.  Basically, the unit is pretty damn difficult to hunt due to terrain and vegetation, then you combine lots of hunting pressure, and a moderate at best elk density, and you've got your work cut out for you.

That being said, you can kill elk in 28, but the odds are against you... Like Hunter25 said, you should have considereded doe or buck tags too, as they were available a few weeks ago.  Also, you didn't say what season you're hunting, but said you drew a tag, does that mean 1st season?

 

If you're hunting that Williams Fork country, and I do recommend it, you'll want to get as far back in as possible, as quickly as possible, so I agree with attempting to get a head start on the others by getting a couple of miles in on day 0.  Don't forget people may attempt to drive over Jones Pass from the East side, so focus on one of those major forks coming off of the North Fork, like the Middle Fork or McQuery or Bobtail.  Or the South Fork.

 

Probably lay off the cow calls unless you hear legit bugling.  

 

dotkayk's picture
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Joined: 09/01/2012
Posts: 8
first season

thanks, that helps. yes, this is first season, cow tag..28 was our last choice on the second drawing, I was surprised, thought youth hunters had preference in the drawings.

My boy got a doe on a friend's farm in Wyo last year, this year there are a couple of bucks hanging around the corn field so we'll try there again the weekend before elk season. Have to start somewhere with elk..

Middle Fork looks like the furthest thing from a road, so plan to start there. There are a couple of roads that go into the 'roadless' area from Jones Pass, but according to the 4wd websites and the aerial pictures, they are gated. I feel like I'm looking for weapons of mass destruction, 'now is that a gate or an artifact of the low-resolution picture ?'

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 07/13/2011
Posts: 881
Seniors should have

Seniors should have preference. We don't have many hunts left, and it's painful to have to sit out a hunt knowing it might have been the last one. We don't get squat from the DOW, and have been paying them for 60 years.

Yes, i'm a little bitter about it.

COMeatHunter's picture
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OK. I know this is off topic,

OK. I know this is off topic, but StillHunter is right. Seniors should get some preference in the draw as well. Something like the youth program: rifle...cow/doe...for the 1st and 2nd choices. Forget the late hunts and don't limit the first choice to "eligible" hunt codes. As for the hunt plan, getting a head start is a great idea. Hope it all works out for you.

dotkayk's picture
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Joined: 09/01/2012
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surrounded by elk in the night..

we hiked in Fri night, in rain/sleet/snow, about 3 miles along the N Fork from the trailhead. Perfect solitude all four days, surrounded by elk slipping past in the night.. these hoofprints about 20 yards from the tent, my size 11 hoofprint on the L:

lots of other tracks, bedding areas etc found, but never saw a thing. Went up to Mcquery in the snow, and climbed around the Middle Fork the other days. My son called it 'scenic torture' as I dragged him through the deadfall.. oh well try again next year.

 

exbiologist's picture
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Glad you got into elk

Glad you were into them, but sorry you didn't get to take one home

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