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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 06/03/2004
Posts: 52
Elk hunting near Eagle CO

I live in PA and will be going to Eagle, CO for a archery hunt in 2005. We are starting our planning now and I am already very excited. I have two things things that concern me. Having only hunted in the Appalachian Mts. what physical condition should I be in for miles of hiking a day. What are the chances of an encounter with a cougar or a bear, and should I carry a deterent spray? Thanks
Matt 8)

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2003
Posts: 394
Elk hunting near Eagle CO

The difference between the Rockies and the Appalachians is 7,000-8,000 feet of altitude. The air up here is a LOT thinner! As such, a hike that would leave you slightly winded in the Applachians will leave you laying on the ground gasping for air in the Rockies. You need to work on building lung capacity through aerobic activity.

The air here is also much drier. So, you have to carry (and drink!) a lot more water. You might get by on a day of hunting in the Appalachians with drinking a lot of water in the morning and then only carrying a very minimum amount, or even none at all, with you during the day. In the Rockies you will need to carry a MINIMUM of a quart of water with you for a day away from camp. With the possibility of warm days during the early archery season, two quarts would definitely not be too much.

Bears and mountain lions are fairly common around Eagle, but shouldn't be a big worry. As long as you don't smell like food they should leave you alone. Carrying some bear spray wouldn't hurt, but I'm not sure I'd bother. In my years of elk hunting I've seen a couple of bears, but no mountain lions. The bears never bothered me and now I've taken to getting a bear license so that if I see one and want to shoot it I can.

Good luck!

By the way, before moving to Colorado I lived in North Carolina for 5 years, so I am somewhat familiar with the Appalachians.

JLM
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 04/24/2004
Posts: 14
Elk hunting near Eagle CO

Where abouts are you planning to hunt, what GMU. If you start finding alot of Blue Grouse and Berries, your in good Bear country

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Location: Kerrville, Texas
Joined: 04/18/2004
Posts: 29
Elk hunting near Eagle CO

Be in the best shape of your life, is the best advice I can give you. Do a lot of work on cardiovascular and legs. However, regardless of how good of shape you are in, it will kick you in the butt for the first few days. Don't arrive the day before the hunt and expect to do well. 2-3 days ahead is best to get used to the altitude. I realize that is hard with todays work schedules, and I usually arrive 2 days early. Don't drink any caffeine or alcohol for at least 3-4 days after getting there and as said above, drink more water than you think you need. These will all help adjust to the altitude. Plain old Rolaids antacid will help counteract some of the effects of altitude if you are sensitive to it like I am. I have headaches and my heart pounds in my ears when I lie down for the first few days if I don't take something. There are actual meds from a doctor that I take for 3 days to help get adjusted, but my wife can usuallly just take 2-3 rolaids 3 times daily.

Find out what kind of hunting you will be doing. Sitting on Wallows? Lots of walking? Most of the time, you will put many miles on your boots when bowhunting. Be sure your boots are well broken in. I find the best set up to avoid raw feet with blisters when hiking steep country is to use a thin polypro liner under wool socks. And if you don't have some premium long johns, invest in some. Don't even think about using cotton. You need some newer generation "wicking' long johns. The true function of long johns is not warmth, but to wick sweat away from your body. When you hike in the mountains, you sweat no matter how cold it gets and if you wear cotton long johns, you will be cold all the time.

What game unit are you hunting and are you doing a do it yourself or a guided hunt? Stay in town or camping? Of course, camping would increase your odds of seeing bear because a food source in camp is the most likely attractant. I also haven't seen a cougar in the wild, but I have a friend who had a close encounter. They are rare however. I have a canister of pepper spray that I keep in my tent, but usually don't carry it around when hunting.

Good hunting

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2003
Posts: 394
Elk hunting near Eagle CO

Txhunter58 makes a good point. Even someone in excellent physical shape can suffer from altitude sickness. My usual advice for folks coming to Colorado from the lowlands is to fly into Denver or Colorado Springs and spend the first night there. On the second day drive up into the mountains, in your case to Eagle, and spend the night there. On the third day you should be ready for the drive up to the REALLY high country and to begin hunting. Even then, don't push yourself too hard on the first day.

Good luck!

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Location: Pennsylvania
Joined: 06/03/2004
Posts: 52
Elk hunting near Eagle CO

I am not positive what GMU i will be hunting. We will be camping and hunting on our own. However my uncles friend, who lives in N. California, will be hunting with us and this will be his 10th year in a row hunting this area of Colorado for elk. We are driving out with all of our gear and I don't see too much time to become acclimated to the elevation. We will be hunting as soon as we set up camp and get situated. What exactly does altitude sickness do to you?

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Location: Kerrville, Texas
Joined: 04/18/2004
Posts: 29
Elk hunting near Eagle CO

Altitude without any medication causes me to have headaches and a pounding heart. When I lay down at night, my heart pounds in my ears (I can feel it) and I can't go to sleep. Mild as altitude sickness goes. It used to take me 2-3 days to get adjusted. With age, I am 46, it now seems to take 3-4 days.

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2003
Posts: 394
Elk hunting near Eagle CO

Severe altitude sickness can leave you gasping for air, sweating, shaking, unable to focus your eyes--pretty much a complete basket case, unable to do anything. It goes from there down to mild headaches and, of course, some people don't seem to suffer any symptoms at all.

The thing is that altitude sickness is very arbitrary. In general, the effects are less the better physical condition you're in, but it doesn't always work that way. I know a guy who lives in Iowa, mid-30s, excellent physical condition, thinks nothing of riding his bike 100 miles in a day--you know, the kind that makes you feel fat and old just to look at him. He came up here, got off the plane in DIA, rented a car and drove straight up to Winter Park to meet us for some skiing. By 8:00 that night he was shaking and sweating and barely conscious. His eyes were rolling around and he couldn't walk without someone helping to hold him up.

We took him to a hospital where they gave him some oxygen (which helped a lot) and then we drove back down to Denver. The next day he was much better and the day after that we went back up to Winter Park and he was fine.

He assumed that because he was in such great shape, altitude sickness couldn't bother him. He was wrong. The funny thing is that his wife is in no better than average condition--much worse physical shape than him--yet she had no problems with the altitude at all. It just affects different people differently.

Now, having said all this, let me add that the majority of people never suffer anything more than some headaches. I don't want to scare you off of coming to Colorado for fear you'll drop dead from the altitude! Serious altitude sickness only happens to a tiny percentage, so the odds are very much in your favor. It's just that if there's any way to arrange the schedule so that you climb to altitude more slowly, that would be a good thing.

JLM
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 04/24/2004
Posts: 14
Elk hunting near Eagle CO

Another thing that gets folks coming out here to hunt is dhydration. You have got to drink lots of water and gatorade (IMO) when hunting out here. The air is very dry compared to what most are use to and with the cooler temps up high you might not feel the urge to drink, but do it anyways. Watch you pee to tell you how hydrated you are.

expatriate's picture
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Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/26/2002
Posts: 3207
Elk hunting near Eagle CO

Bear in mind, too, that the sun at 7K-8K feet is a lot harsher than it is at low altitude, too. You'll find yourself fried a lot worse a lot faster if you're not careful. The dry air and wind doesn't help this, either. This may sound relatively minor compared to altitude sickness, but a bad sunburn can definitely ruin your experience.

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