If you have an opportunity to scout a new elk hunting area for 1 1/2 days three months before the elk hunting season, what do you look for? I'm doing a 1 1/2 day backpacking trip in a couple of weeks in my Colorado hunting area and have only a very vague idea about looking around the area, locating water holes, getting a sense of where timber is located and where open grassy areas are located. This seems a pretty indefinite plan. Does anyone have guidance to offer on what specifically to look for?
11 replies [Last post]
Mon, 2006-07-03 08:46
Mon, 2006-07-03 11:37#1
Any excuse to get out there and spend time enjoying the great outdoors is worth it. In new country, I like to take and mark some GPS readings and learn the country a little, mark some saddles, bedding areas, water holes, trails etc. Will you be archery or rifle hunting? For archery, the elk should still be in the area for rifle, things could be different, especially if the snow starts to fly and the elk start to migrate.
Mon, 2006-07-03 13:23#2
I'd say you should look for rubs. Bull elk will rub a lot durring the rut, especially on lodgepole pines. Generally speaking, the more rubs the more rutting bulls there were last fall. If they were around last fall there should still be some next fall too. If you you find any fresh sign along with lots of rubs, that's probably a very good place to hunt. Of course, I'm a bowhunter, and I barely tend to get out once the gunblasting gets started, so that 's what I ususally look for.
Depending on what you have planned on your trip, you might try setting up on a high ridge and glassing a lot; you never know what you might see.
Mon, 2006-07-03 20:02#3
Hiker: I will be rifle hunting, first rifle season in Colorado, NE of Durango, Unit 75, about 11,500' elevation. I believe the season runs five days starting about October 17.
Tue, 2006-07-04 12:19#4
They should still be in the area, first season as snow usually doesn't set in for a few weeks after that but at 11,500 it's hard to know. First season starts Oct 14th and runs through the 18th. NE of Durango, there use to be a lot of 4x4 trails in that area.
Wed, 2006-07-05 21:18#5
Just learning the landmarks and trails will help with your hunt.
The burn area N. of Vallecito reservoir has been good for elk recently. I would think you would have fairly rough/steep terrain at that altitude, but I think that is the way to go. Elk that I have seen in 75 ran along the ramps at or above treeline. Outfitters in the N. end of that unit are fairly territorial.
Fri, 2006-07-14 15:11#6
What do you expect the hunting pressure to be like in this area during your hunt? Will there be any hunts in this areas prior to yours? Do you have a feel for what the hunting pressure will be during these hunts?
In my opinion the biggest mistake people make is scouting elk like deer. When I scout elk, especially months ahead of time, I like to scout the area more than the animals. If the elk are pressured they will get as far away from the roads as possible and be in the dark timber. If you are expecting pressure then start looking for out of the way areas and look for fairly easy ways into them. If they are pressured they will sometimes drop of mountain rims into thick drainages and where I most see them most commly go with pressure.
If you're not expecting a lot of pressure then certainly look for rutting areas as a starting point. Rubs and wallows are a good starting point. But some elk stage in one area to prepare for the rut then join the herd and rut somewhere else. There have been many times I've watched elk pre-rut in one area but once the rut starts they are no where to be found. The best elk scouting I've seen others do is finding areas where they think the elk will go in differing circumstances. Weather and pressure will be the biggest factures.
Sat, 2006-07-15 13:13#7
rather be hunting, That is some good advice.
Thu, 2006-07-20 21:22#8
I drew the same area and season. I'm going to do some scouting the 26th-31st on July. I was out looking in that area in March and saw a ton of elk. Where are you planning to scout? I'm going straight north of Pagosa. That is a combined unit and a very large one at that. When I was out in March a lot of the Roads were closed. Do you know what ones will be open in Oct? Good Luck.
Sun, 2006-07-23 22:39#9
Just look for the signs ...
Mon, 2006-07-24 14:26#10
Alamosa: Thanks for the great advice! I'll look for those signs when I'm hunting in October -- they will make the hunt much easier!
Knapp717: I plan to hunt the SW corner of the Weminuche Wilderness area, up above Henderson Lake. I'm on foot and I'm hoping that by packing a couple of miles into the wilderness area I will leave behind at least some of the hunters who are not willing to hoof it into that rugged country.
My scouting trip ran from about 5 PM last Tuesday to 5 PM last Wednesday. The benefits I was able to obtain from such a brief trip were modest but not non-existent. I confirmed the driving directions that previously had been uncertain to me. I also determined the difficulty of driving the upper stretches of my road. I determined that I ought to kick-up the intensity of my physical conditioning efforts: while I did OK during my trip (covering about 12 miles in this 24 hour stretch including climbing up to a 12,600' peak to look into a couple of drainages) I did wonder how I would feel after hunting several days or on my fourth trip packing out deboned elk meat. I think I have identified a place to place my camp. I did get to see the lay of the land and get a sense of what the hunting will be like and how to approach the hunting, although as a first time elk hunter I don't trust my instincts on identifying "prime elk hunting areas." Also, I feel confirmed in my belief that backpacking into this wilderness area will act as a filter to eliminate the less than highly motivated hunter -- it isn't easy getting back in a couple of miles with the equipment needed to live carried on your back and then go further to hunt. In climbing up to the 12,600' peak we just bushwacked up a canyon, off any trail, and I was pleased to find that I was comfortable navigating by landmarks and landforms versus specific points on the topographic map (for example, intersection of a watercourse and a trail).