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Joined: 03/03/2012
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Hunting CO alone for the first time without my dad, need advice.

Hello,

I come here like a lot of people searching for information from you folks that are more experienced than I am. I live in Oklahoma and have been making the trip up hunting in CO for several years alongside my dad. We always hunted the same areas around Delores Peak up above Dunton. Some years this was a good area, some it wasn’t, however it was always heavily trafficed by people.

Well, I lost my dad a couple years ago very unexpected to a massive heart attack while we were on a fishing trip. He was only 55yrs old. It was a total life changing tragedy for me. He was my main hunting partner. I am planning to return to CO this season (2012) for another elk hunt, however I will most likely be doing it alone as I don’t have many friends that hunt and even less than can make a commitment to go on a trip like this. This is not a problem for me, I dont mind doing it by myself, it will just take a little longer getting there and setting up.

I have always archery hunted in the past. I want to try a rifle hunt this year. I am going to put in for the draw for the 1st rifle season. If I dont get drawn out, Ill take my point and just buy a over the counter tag for the 2nd or 3rd season. I dont expect much as I dont have any points at all. So, drawing a 1st season rifle tag with 0 points is a hope and dream I guess.  

I already have all the gear/tent/cooking equip to set up a good camp. Id really like to camp as I think this adds alot to the overall experiance of the hunt. Ive never stayed in a cabin or trailer before, not against it, but just never done it. I do NOT want to camp in a camp ground around other people. I want to be somewhere with a minimul amount of traffic down low,but close enough to areas that I can hike into 1-5 miles and be off the beaten path with less chance of seeing a sea of orange. I have a 4 wheeler if I need it and its allowed in the area Im in. I dont mind buring up the boot leather to get away from the 1/4 mile road hunters. Im in good shape and can go all day.

Can you all help me out figuring out some units to focus on/look at based on the info ive given. I am not looking to kill a trophy bull. Im the kind of guy that enjoys the hunt as much as I do the kill. My dad taught me long ago not to go to CO with high expectations of always getting a bull. Ive learned to enjoy the overall experiance from this. My only requirments are that I want to rifle hunt, be able to camp (not in a campground), and not be run over with hunters once I get back off the beaten path. Also, (not as important) Id like to see some country that was less "desert like" and more high country parks, meadows, aspens, pines, heavy timber with openings to glass. With all the years of hunting in one spot in SW CO it'd be nice to get away from the rock slides and see some new ground.

Im NOT asking for anyone's secret honey hole. Id just like a few options/units to look at that I might be able to draw a 1st seaon rifle tag with no points and if not, some units for a 2nd or 3rd season over the counter tag. Im not against getting a guide, but ive never had one before and im not familar with that type of thing. Im not expecting to get a huge bull, but Id atleast like to see some elk. Due to my job and the distance it is to CO from Oklahoma, I most likey will not be able to make the trip up mid year to scout any units. If the chance came about, I certainly would though.

Thanks in advance for the help.

buckykm1's picture
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Location: Vicksburg, Mi
Joined: 11/24/2010
Posts: 337
welcome

Welcome to the forum, from what i have seen, in 2nd or 3rd season, there will be a sea of orange in almost any unit. i would just go to the State web site, and check the stats on some units, then look at the map to see how the public access is. i am sure that others can help too.

sorry to hear about your Dad.

Kevin

exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
look at some wilderness heavy units

Or camp higher.  I don't understand why you'd want to camp down low.  That'll put you in the desert in the units you were talking about, yet you said you hunted around Delores Peak, which dang sure isn't what I would consider desert.

So, you've got to balance a few things here, one is a tag that you can draw first season, or if not, get it OTC in 2nd.  Two, is not a lot of hunters.  Three, it needs to be a mountain unit, probably with some wilderness or at least a lot of roadless country.  There are a quite a few units that'll meet some aspects of the above description.

Here's a map of most of the wilderness areas in Colorado and the % in each unit:

http://wildlife.state.co.us/SiteCollectionDocuments/DOW/Education/pdf/HunterOutreach/BigGameGMUMapWildAreas.pdf

With that, take a look at the tag numbers available for 1st season, INCLUDING cow tags, and try get estimate of just the wilderness areas involved.  You can get the square mileage of each wilderness area pretty easily by doing a search online.  Then just assume each hunter would be hunting the wilderness (which they won't be), and it should become pretty obvious which units will have a ton of hunters and which ones won't.  

Then you'll want to look at the draw stats and figure out whether or not you can draw the either sex or bull tag.  

 

exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
quick and dirty math

This is probably a better way to do this.  I mentioned using all the tags issued in an area, when you probably ought to just stick to each unit.  Anyway, take unit 24 for example.  It makes up about 75% of the Flat Tops Wilderness area.

The 2011 Harvest Stats aren't out yet,  but should be in a few weeks.  So using the 2010 harvest stats, we see we had 957 elk hunters in 24.  If we assume they all at least partially hunt the wilderness and the Flat Tops Wilderness is 235,000 acres, and 176,250 (75%) of those acres are in 24, then we have 184 wilderness acres per hunter. 5 year 1st season either sex average success rate is 30.2%.

371 has our highest percentage of wilderness for a single unit.  The Eagle's Nest Wilderness is 132,000 acres, with about 50% in 371.  In 2010, you had 232 elk hunters in 371 in 1st season, leaving about 284 acres per hunter.  5 year 1st season either sex average success rate is 23.4%

Now take unit 14, which has about 50% of the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area and with 625 hunters, you're down 127 acres per hunter.  22.6% average success rate.

Unit 43 has about 85% of the 181,117 acre Marroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.  851 hunters in 2010 1st season, leaving about 180 acres per hunter.  24% average success rate.

Sangre De Cristo Wilderness pretty much splits 82 and 86.  But lets go with 82.  226,420 acres, half in 82, with 390 hunters, leaving 290 acres per hunter.  5 year average success 28.8%.

Lots more places, but you can do the math.

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Joined: 03/03/2012
Posts: 2
Guys thanks for the

Guys thanks for the replies. 

When I was talking about camping I guess I used the wrong words. I didn't really mean camp down low as in the low lands so to say, but rather just referring to the area around camp that is usually withing 100yds to 1/4 mile of a road since I won't have horses to pack a camp in further. Given the circumstances, I'd expect to see some folks within the vicinity of camp since it won't be too terribley far from a roadway. Where we camped at by Delores Peak was around 9,800-10,000 feet according to my Kestrel meter. We hunted from camp up to around 13,000 feet. 

 

Ill take some time and look over the links that were posted above and see what I can figure out. Can someone tell me where I can find the info on how many points it takes to draw out in the individual units on the different seasons. I've looked on the website in the Big Game section, but I guess I'm not seeing it of my computer here at work won't let me view it. 

exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
everything you need...

Is here:

http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/BigGame/Statistics/Pages/Statistics.aspx

Populations, harvest stats, minimum points required, draw stats, hunt recaps (use that to help figure out your actual draw odds with 0 points)

Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Location: San Diego, CA
Joined: 07/27/2007
Posts: 5736
Welcome to the site Trevor! 

Welcome to the site Trevor!  Very soory to hear about your Dad, I can't even imagine that happening.

As you can see from what you have already received, there are lots of good guys, with lots of good info on here.  I am sure you will be full of good advice when you do go on that hunt!

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