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Joined: 03/13/2010
Posts: 328
Residency Issue

New to Colorado and won't be an actual resident till the end of Sep(6 months). I would like to get out hunting this year and obviously will miss the drawing period. Can someone help me out and make some suggestions on possible hunts? I can hunt archery, muzzleloader or rifle. Any unit 2.5 hours from Denver would be great. Appreciate the help.

exbiologist's picture
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Re: Residency Issue

Part of the reason why people aren't very forthcoming about which OTC units they'd recommend is because to some degree, it's obvious where to hunt within those units, and no one really wants more people out there with them. And within 2.5 hours of Denver, you are guaranteed to find overcrowded units. So, if you want to hunt overcrowded units, you may as well hunt units with good elk populations like up in the Bear's Ears/Elkheads or Flat Tops (5-6 hour drives). But, I'd avoid those like the plague. I'd also avoid 18/28/181, because they too are overcrowded and don't have great elk populations. That leaves 37 and 371 that you could get to in about 2.5 hours. I consider those decent units, but they have pretty low success rates, mostly because access is difficult. Not that there is a shortage of public land, but that much of it is wilderness, reducing the number and distance of roads you can travel on public land. Another problem with those units is the amount of timber. There aren't very many good openings to hunt until you get really high up in the basins. So, much of your time will be spent still hunting, which is a very difficult way to hunt.
So, if you are committed to spending time scouting, just pick the closest unit to you, say 28 and learn it. Just realize it will be a zoo when the season opens, so you'll need to focus your scouting efforts not on where the elk are during the summer, but where they might go to escape the pressure. Drive the roads to familiarize yourself with the locations of the campsites (not just campgrounds, but where the concentrations of hunters are-look for meat poles, toilet seats, flat, dry areas), which roads are driveable, which are roads are gated and you'll quickly realize where the pressure is most likely to be.
The roads will begin thawing out by the end of next month at the mid elevations and late June/early July at the highest elevations, which leaves you only two months of scouting before archery seasons open. Can you commit half your weekends to scouting trips? If not, don't bother with those units.

WesternHunter's picture
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Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2374
Re: Residency Issue

2.5 hrs west from Denver will get you far enough into the high country. You just have to consider a few areas and scout them. The thing about hunting areas is that not many hunters are going to reveal their great hunting spots to people they casually know, let alone to people they don't know over the internet. Pick some units that you think are within reason from Denver. Think all direction from Denver, not just west. Then do your own homework. I've been hunting biggame here for 26 years and can honestly say that every year that I go my maps, boots, and binoculars get more use during the mid and late summer scouts than they do during the entire hunting season. It takes your own effort is what I'm saying. I will tell you this though, if it's biggame you're after, you are in the right state. They're out there.

WesternHunter's picture
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Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2374
Re: Residency Issue

Uh....correction and clarification to my above post. For deer, consider all direction from denver. For elk, consider SW, W, NW directions from Denver. Sorry for the confusion.

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Joined: 03/13/2010
Posts: 328
Re: Residency Issue

Well, it looks like I won't become a resident till Septembe( 6 month rule). I would like to at least get out for OTC archery or rifle, cow or bull would be fine. After listening to everyone's input in the forum I have narrowed hunting units down to 28,38 or 37. I see that 38 is open for OTC bull elk and either sex archery? I plan on getting out and scouting one of these units extensively once I choose one. Any suggestions for one of these units? How is the terrain on each? I am sure the pressure will be high on all three. Thanks for the help everyone.!!!

Do they sell left over Mule deer tags after September?

exbiologist's picture
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Re: Residency Issue

They are all very low success rate units, with extremely low elk densities (west of I-25 average is 4.7 elk per square mile, and 15.2% archery success the last 5 years).
Unit 38 averaged 7.4% archery success rate the last 5 years, and has about 1.3 elk per square mile.
Unit 28 averaged 10.2% archery success rate the 5 years, and has about 3.8 elk per square mile.
Unit 37 averaged 10.7% archery success and has the same elk density as 28, but slightly fewer hunters per square mile of public land. I rate it as my #79 out of 106 archery units west of I-25. Unit 28 is #84 and 38 is #99 out of 106. So they are all below average success and elk density, with above average hunter pressure. The best of those, with the most difficult terrain is probably 37. All of those units have large areas of dark timber, much of it beetle killed.
Regarding the Mule Deer tags, yes they sell them, and I put up a list for you to look at in the Mule Deer section.

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Joined: 03/13/2010
Posts: 328
Re: Residency Issue

Thanks for all this great information. It seems the success rates and elk densities are down in these Units. Being my first year hunting in Colorado I would like to give myself a fair chance at least. Can anyone suggest other units with high elk denities? I will be traveling from Littleton. I would like to start getting out and at least start driving the roads to familiarize myself with the unit I choose.

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