Thank you, CONative! I'm less than 10 hours from heading up the hill. I'll for sure post what news I can about my trip. If I don't wish you good luck now I'm not likely to remember for your 4th season trip so good luck to you and be safe, as well!
As I'm reading this post I'm looking out my office window at a big chunk of GMU 59... Cheyenne Mountain, Gold Camp area, Pike's Peak, Ute Pass and Rampart Range. You'd think that after living here for 18 years I'd be more knowledgable about 59. Not that I don't want to hunt in my own back yard. It would be great. The one thing I've learned about this area is that there is way too much private land in 59 making accessibility to public land a major issue. I've never elk hunted 59 but I have tried hunting turkeys here. Needless to say it was a lesson in futility. Not that there aren't any turkeys or elk around here. I know people who have shot both turkeys and elk up on Rampart Range. But the elk numbers are few and the pine trees are thick. There's very few primo "elky" looking spots I can think of that are on public land. Especially those big open meadows with a screaming bull running around keeping other bulls away from his harem of cows. From what I see and hear I think the elk in 59 tend to be very reclusive. I've seen lots of elk on private land though. There's a ranch west of Florissant that always has big bulls running around on it. But it's heavily posted with No Trespassing - No Hunting signs. Like every 50 feet on the fence line. I wish I knew where the elk were around here. At least the ones on public land. I'd put in for a tag too. But with all the negatives considered I tend to look further west for my elk hunting. Besides, exbiologist helps discourage me from hunting here too. ;)
Well, after reading your post, I seem to see 59 in that same light. Even though there are thousands of acres of Pike National Forest and there are really some sweet spots with plenty of water, green foliage, elevation, and everything that elk are "supposed" to be attracted to and I've walked plenty of marshy areas that are big enough to keep a harem of hundreds... I'm not so much liking the area anymore. There are still 48 or so OTC 4th rifle tags for bulls available in that GMU and I'd thought about one.. Thought... But there certainly must be a reason there are so many left.
Now, I had come to 2 conclusions about 59.
First, the elk are very, very, very scared of me.
Second, they are as real as unicorns and leprechauns.
I walked over 30 gps miles and say gps miles because many times it was under my arm and not tracking. I walked all over the valleys and ridges were I'd seen fresh sign previously from Emerald Valley Ranch to E. Beaver Creek. I walked all over Buffalo Valley/Canyon and Stove Mountain. Walked all over Mt. Rosa, Mt. Blanca, and sat in a several thousand meter long marsh near Mt. Baldy at 11200 feet, and even remote marshes that you need to get private access to near the Crags. I walked countless game trails, marshes, streams, ridges, valleys, draws, spurs, saddles, roads, hiking trails and saw 1, yes 1, white tail deer. Not even an elk. No bugling, no chuckling, no nothing.
I think I mistakenly went snipe hunting instead during 1st rifle.
But, I do know that in a tshirt and skivies my 0-5 degree Swiss Gear mummy bag will keep me warm in 18 degree weather!
As I sit and glass, which is common for hunters out west, I have sort of quickly discovered something I never learned when I was younger.
In my youth I had enthusiasm and spirit. In my middle to advancing years I have creaky knees, arthritis, and I tire more easily than I used to. Where I used to sit on the cold hard ground I now look for that soft spot to sooth my tired muscles. That leads me to my tip.
Carry your soft spot with you!
In my pack I carry an air filled, ultralight, camping pad....