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Location: Colorado
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Is This Ethical?

A little background first. From reading my posts. Some of you know i'm 68. I'll be 69 in Dec. So, next elk season i'll almost be 70. I've been hunting since I was 8 years old, and i'm still not bored with it. It keeps me young, and interested in life.

This year I switched from bulls to cows. I was lucky and got my cow this year. I was about 3 miles from my Jeep. I don't camp, because i'm only 35 minutes from my hunting areas. Some are closer. Hunting for the cow was as exciting as ever. Getting the meat out is becoming a huge chore now. I always hunt alone. It took me 4 trips to get the meat out. I didn't think i'd make it, and really don't want to go through that again. My mind is willing, but my body is failing me. I hunt the muzzleloder season with an old Hawken. So, I need to go to high altitudes to find the elk.

So, here's my question. Next year, and every year after that is going to get harder and harder. I need a new plan. I want to continue to hunt with my muzzleloader, but not in muzzleloader season. I want to hunt the late season when the elk are on the winter range. I know where it is, and it's only 15 minutes from where I live. It has timber and large open meadows. It's about 1 mile square.

Would it be ethical to hunt that? It open for hunting, and the only time the elk are there is in the winter, so the DOW knows it will be hunted. I feel a little funny about it, but I need some other opinions.

SGM
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Location: Canon City, Colorado
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Still Hunter, that is very

Still Hunter, that is very cool that you are still out pounding the ground and getting your elk. I plan to hunt until it kills me even if that means a 4x4 wheelchair. As for your question about being ethical, I say yes it is. It is in an open season and open area with a legal tag. Just because it is a wintering area is no different than knowing a water hole or a patch of dark timber they are in. I say hunt it and enjoy a freezer full of elk.  

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Absolutely ethical

I have a few decades to go before I'm as seasoned a hunter as yourself.  I can only hope to be actively hunting when I'm in my late 60's.  That in itself is quite a life accomplishment and is certainly appreciated and admired by myself (and many other hunters I would imagine too).:=D>

Not sure what you're on the fence here in terms of ethically hunting.  Using a muzzleloader (or bow for that matter) during a rifle season is completely legal and absolutely ethical in my opinion.  In fact, I believe you can even put a scope on your muzzleloader if you wish when hunting during a rifle season--I'm not positive on that and would look at the regs closer or call the DOW before actually doing it.  But, it is legal, and ethical, to use a primitive weapon during rifle seasons if one wishes.  

Hunting a winter range during a late season is also completely ethical in my opinion.  Of course you're going to hunt where the game are located, regardless of the season.  It's no different than hunting in the high country during September.  It's great to find a convenient place you can hunt and one that's closer to the car as well.  

I'd also ask if you hunt alone because this is just how you've always hunted or if you really prefer to hunt alone?  Personally, I prefer to hunt with friends.  It's a bit different for us, we usually travel several hours to our hunting areas and either camp or stay in town at a hotel together.  I enjoy their company both during the hunt but also back in camp or at the hotel.  And when someone in the group knocks down an elk, we all usually help pack it out--"many hands make light work" are words to live by.  We don't all hunt "together" though.  We usually split up in small groups of 2, or even singles when working the woods.  We connect by radio at specific times (and it never works for everyone inthe group to be connected, inevitably we won't hear from someone until we return to camp) to try to work our areas together and share info on what we've seen or done.

Hunting with a friend might make the work load a bit less too.  Nevertheless, I admire your ability and desire to continue to hunt, and harvest, animals.  I don't see any ethical issues to your new strategy and would encourage you to do whatever's needed in terms of changing areas or weapons that allows you to continue to pursue your lifelong passion for hunting.

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Location: Colorado
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I need to explain further. I

I need to explain further. I wasn't talking about the gun I use. It's a handicaap in any season. My effective range with a round ball is only 75 yds at best. It can hardly compete with inline scoped muzzleloaders shooting modern bullets that have an effective range of 200yds. Don't get me started on how I feel about those. :0

I Can actually use a scope during ML season. My eyesight is so bad they gave me a special permit to use one. I couldn't bring myself to use it though. It felt like cheating. I'm odd that way.

The ethical part is the winter range. The hard part would be getting close enough for a shot with my primitive weapon, but no skill on my part in finding the elk. I know right where they are. I just feel kind of funny about it. If you guys think it's ok. I guess I should too.

As to why I hunt alone? Kind of personal, but i'll try to explain the best I can. My dad started me hunting when I was 8 years old in Mass. He loved hunting for deer. He was a still hunter. It was the only way he hunted. Naturally, it's what he taught me. When I was teenager we moved to Calif. We continued to hunt together for deer, and took trips to Colorado to hunt for elk every year. Always still hunting, and always succesful. When he passed away I moved to Colorado. I continued to this day to still hunt. I'm not sure I could share a hunt with anybody else.

I've never had a desire to hunt with anybody but my dad. When I hunt. I feel him with me still. I dedicate every hunt to him. He taught me well. He taught me to enjoy the hunt, and a kill was just a bonus. He taught me ethics and fair play. He taught me to respect the game, and not take the easy way. He taught me to move in close to the game without being seen, heard, or smelled, but to let the game use all it's senses. He taught me to hunt.

I'm not sure if hunting the winter range is doing what I was taught by my dad.

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I loved hunting with my dad too

I completely understand your desire to spend quality time with your dad.  Although my father is still living, anymore he is physically unable to hunt with me.  And his eyesight is so poor now that even if we found an area that wasn't too physically demanding, he wouldn't be able to see the game and put a weapon's sights on it.

My son and I like to call grandpa after we get home and tell him all about our hunts.  It's not the same, but we still get to make that relational connection with him in sharing our stories and having him share stories he remembers that were similar in some way.

Good on you and keep on hunting!  You're a credit to all of us who call ourselves hunters.

 

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I hope when I'm your age I

I hope when I'm your age I can still get around the hills to hunt. I'm only 30 now and my body is already falling apart on me. As far as the dilema of if it's ethical to hunt winter ranges. I say Yes. If your hunting a late season hunt you can expect to hunt a winter range. With that if it's an open area and a legal and valid tag and legal weapon than you shouldn't feel bad a bout it. I was taught to hunt in a similair fasion as you and I wouldn'd feel bad about it at all. My late season deer hunt takes place during the blacktail rut and so I hunt the breeding grounds. Is it ethical? I think so. I'm not breaking any laws, I have a valid tag and I am using a legal weapon( archery). If I were you I'd hunt it and wouldn't feel bad about and would only worry about filling the freezer. I can relate to hunting solo. When you hunt solo the only person you have to worry about is you to scare the game with movement or smell. I do hunt with my dad and brother but rarely do we hunt side by side. we will hunt a mile or more apart. Good luck with your hunts and I wouldn't worry about the ethics of the hunt as long as it's legal.

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I seen nothing wrong with

I seen nothing wrong with hunting winter range as long as there is a season during that time.  Would you feel any different if you were hunting the same area during the ML hunt and the elk were there?  How about sitting above their water holes waiting for them.  You area in a area where they are and it is hunting. 

As far as hunting alone I have been doing it for quite a while now.  Even when I go out with others I like to get off by myself so that I don't have to worry about them giving me away.  That along with the facts that a lot of my hunting partners have moved away from where I live and have their own hunting areas now. 

As for cow elk, the last three that I have shot have been within 50 yards of a road and I plan it that way.  I figure that there isn't a cow elk out there worth packing too far even for the good meat that it provides.  Now I have packed them over 3 miles but that one was a mistake on my part and I had to track her down to finish her off.  I have also driven my truck up to a couple to where we could load them whole, which is very nice. 

The big thing is to just get out there and hunt them.  Weather they are in their summer range or winter range it shouldn't make any difference.  It is still you against them and during the winter when there are more of them in a herd there are more eyes watching what you do as you try to get within range. 

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Thanks guys. I feel a little

Thanks guys. I feel a little better about it now. I'll go ahead and apply for a 4th season tag next year.

The good thing it's at 8200ft, and I won't be gasping for air. It's also pretty level, and I won't be more than 3/4 mile from my Jeep. It should be a challenge still. It's open meadows, and the wooded areas are fairly open. I'll need to be extra sneaky to get close enough for my old Hawken to do it's job.

 

I'm kind of excited for the hunt already. Only 13 months to go.  Big smile

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I'm glad to see your decision

I'm glad to see your decision is made as like the others I see no ethical problem here. Those seasons are when they are for the purpose of thinning out some of those wintering areas. As long as person abides by ht elaw there is no problem. It's just as ethical for you to hunt them there as it is for the elk themselves to head there themselves when the snow gets deeper. I think it's just hard for some of us to change the way we do things as time moves on.

I don't like scopes on muzzleloaders either but have you tried a peep sight? I put a Lyman on my old Hawken and it made a huge difference for my dad to be able and get a good sight picture and still maintains the traditional look of the rifle.

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Location: Colorado
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I have been thinking of a

I've been thinking about a peep sight. I'll give one a try before next season, and hunt some coyote to see how it works.

 

I always obey the law, but someone would be a fool to do something wrong in this area. The local warden lives right next to it.  Huh?

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Well, at your age, it sounds

Well, at your age, it sounds like you have put alot of time, and spent much of your life doing what you love.  At this point, with all you have put into it, I see absolutely nothing wrong with hunting an area like that.  If that is what keeps you int he woods, keeping you active and happy, then go for it!

As other's have suggested, as long as it's legal, then nobody should have a problem. It sounds you are giving it a little bit of a challenge by going round ball, so there's a plus for you.  And nothing says those elk will sit there as you walk up to them, and ask them not to move while you shoot them... :lol:  It's not like you're a 25 year old who wants to take advantage of their wintering grounds. 

Congrats again on the cow, and good luck moving forward.  My father is 64 this year, and since my boys are only 5 and 1 year old, I hope that my Dad will hunt well into his 70's so that he can spend time with his grandchildren.  If that means going to a fenced ranch because he can't get around, or him hunting from a vehicle with a permit for some unforseen handicap,  then I won't think twice about doing it. 

 

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