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Location: Texas
Joined: 07/09/2009
Posts: 4
Newbie ? CO GMU 24, 25

Struck out in the NM draw, so backup plan is OTC in Colorado.

This will be my first Elk hunt, so I just want to go somewhere I have a good shot to see elk. Right now the tenative plan is to hunt the flattops. I'm not fond of the crowds I'm guessing will be there, but they wouldn't be there if there were no elk. I'm hoping to be able to get a cow tag, any meat in the freezer would be a success.

My questions are,

Am I right about the crowds, and the elk population in that area?
Is that a place a new elk hunter from the South really needs to be? (Thinking about the weather, but I'm guessing the chances of bad weather exist anywhere elk do)

My biggest struggle in planning this hunt is where to begin, as I have no experience to draw on. If you have any suggestions, I am wide open. I only am focused on Flattops because of the herd density. Other areas I've considered are 14 to the north and 53 to the South.

The plan is to car camp to start, but we'll have the equipment to backpack in a couple miles if we are up to it. I've never been up to 10K, so I'm not sure what to expect, but I know it won't be easy.

Thanks
Fred

exbiologist's picture
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Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
Newbie ? CO GMU 24, 25

The units with the best chances for success for the newby are either 4,12 or 62. There are lots of roads, and lots of people and lots of elk. Most people don't consider 24 and 25 as the same area, and the DOW manages tags differently between those two units.
The White River herd is the second highest elk density herd in the state with the Bear's Ears not far behind it.
By car camping you'll have the option to take a lot more gear with you to plan for the unpredictable weather. 24 has much more wilderness and is a little more difficult to hunt, but there are plenty of elk there too.
And the other obvious things, get in shape. There's no such thing as easy elk country and even in the units with the highest success, more than half of the hunters go home empty handed, trophy units being the exception.

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Location: Texas
Joined: 07/09/2009
Posts: 4
Cow leftovers?, OTC Cap?

Thanks exbio,

Not knowing what the chances of leftovers were, I was planning to try for one of the Cap licenses next week for a cow in 25,26.

What are the chances of leftover cow tags in 4,12, or 62? I'd hate to pass on the caps waiting on leftovers that may not be there.

Thanks

exbiologist's picture
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Moderator
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
Newbie ? CO GMU 24, 25

The chance for a cow tag in 4 are zilch this year as they dropped 1st season licenses from 1900 to 1000, unit 12 has a pretty good chance for most seasons as there are currently (before the leftover draw) 932 first season tags(EF011o1R) and 1235 2nd/3rd season float tags (and bull would be OTC during those seasons, cow tag is EF012o2R or o3r), 62 is drawn out.

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Joined: 07/16/2009
Posts: 49
Newbie ? CO GMU 24, 25

I've hunted the Flat Tops (units 25,26) four times during gun season with no success, but will probably be going back again for the archery opener this fall. I've seen elk and had opportunities to shoot legal bulls (no record breakers) but blew it. During the 2nd and 3rd gun seasons you will see other hunters, especially along the roads. The last few years we've done a cow only hunt during the last two weeks of September. For some reason we never seem to see any elk during this season. This year we are trying early archery before any other hunters can mess up the herd dynamic.

Some of the roads bordering the Flat Tops are easily accessable by even a passenger car. Most of the roads listed on Trails Illustrated or Forest Service maps as being 4-wheel drive, are ROUGH. Bring chains no matter what time of year you will be there. A winch is a good idea too - we've used ours as early as the third week in September. Two years ago, we were in about 6 miles on a rough road for a cow only, rifle hunt and were one of four camps in the entire area. Between the four camps we had thousands of acres to share.

Expect to do a LOT of walking no matter where you go - at least 4 miles a day over rough terrain. If you can walk into (or horse back ride) more than three miles into a Wilderness area, you will very likely be the only hunter in the area. Only a few of the local guides have spike camps in the wilderness. Car hunters, people with ATVs, and large camps don't camp there as motorized anything (even wheeled carts) are not allowed.

As this will be our first archery hunt in the Flats Tops, anyone with previous archery experience in this area - your advice would be appreciated.

Good luck.

Centennial's picture
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Location: Front Range, CO
Joined: 10/12/2006
Posts: 55
Newbie ? CO GMU 24, 25

My family has been hunting the Flat Tops wilderness in unit 24 since the mid 70s. It’s been a good place to hunt over the years primarily because we know the area so well. I have backpacked in there the years I wanted to hunt a different season. In my youth (late 20s and early 30s) I could get a comfortable 5 day camp three miles into the wilderness in two trips and then prayed I didn’t shoot an elk. As elk country goes it’s great but like all elk hunting, you need to get away from people and roads to have a reasonable expectation. In that part of unit 24 (S fork of the White River) that means you will be walking 1.5 miles (one way) every day from your truck/car before you can be sneaking through the timber and have a chance to hunt on your terms.

The road in from Dotsero (I-70) past Coffee Pot Springs, Deep Lake, and down to the Meadows always has people camped along it so you would certainly have some healthy competition. Also, that road can get pretty nasty after a deep snow which drifts across the top; an almost certainty in November. I personally would not hesitate to hunt there but I benefit from over 30 years of hunting the area. That said, I would recommend that part of unit 24 with the caveat that you need to be in great shape and you spend a few days scouting it before you waste time and money conducting an armed recon. You are investing a lot in this hunt so you want to get it as close to right as you can the first time.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

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Location: Texas
Joined: 07/09/2009
Posts: 4
Newbie ? CO GMU 24, 25

Great insight, thanks a ton.

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