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808bowhunter's picture
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Joined: 11/18/2010
Posts: 7
South San Juan Wilderness Archery

My friend and I are head to the south san juan wilderness for the last 13 days of archery season this year.  I have a few spots planned out to head to.  I was wondering if any one that has hunted this area could give me some helpful info.  We are both in good shape and training to get into better shape for our hunt. We will be camping off our backs but have lined up a packing service to get an animal out if we harvest.  I have talked to outfitters in the area and the dow in the area and have received mixed information.  I had questions on if some of my plans are realistic distance to cover with no horses and if they are good plans to start with.  If any one has info on the area could you please send me a Private message.

Thank you

exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
what kind of distances?

Remember, you will average around 1 mile per hour in the mountains, probably a little less with a significant pack.  You're fooling yourself if you were thinking 3 miles per hour and two miles per hour with a 50 pound pack is breakneck speed.

As a reference, it took us 9 hours last year, with about an hour lunch break to hike 9.5 miles, mostly unladen, while leading three horses carrying our gear.  Elevation gain was around 3000 feet or so.

If you're looking at a 10 mile hike, and in some places you can be, plan a FULL day getting in and out.  Now, can you carry enough food to last you 13 days?  I don't know, I haven't tried, but those may be some pretty hefty packs.  

Next, if you do get an elk down, how are you going to contact the outfitter?  Is it going to take you another day or two of hiking to get out to a trailhead to meet him, then pack back in with horses to retrieve your game?

So, to answer a generic question about whether this is realistic or not, I'd lean towards not.  I'd either rent horses to start with or plan a shorter trip (miles or days).

It certainly can be done, I just don't know if it's advisable.  You may not be fresh enough to enjoy your trip and be able to hunt effectively.  This should be a fun trip, but to me it sounds like a lot of work to be done on foot.  You'll survive, but will you enjoy it?

So there's a couple of alternatives you might consider without knowing anything about your plans:  

1:  Find a steeper, shorter route where you aren't quite as far from help, but still manage to leave others in the dust.  Some of those river trails in the South San Juans and Weminuche are awfully long, slow, uphill trails.  In some instances, you might be able to accomplish a similar goal by getting there from a trail that goes up and over a mountain pass in a shorter distance, or through a limited draw unit (76).

2:  Hire an outfitter to pack you in.  You'll be fresher and more comfortable, and have plenty of gear.

3:  Rent horses.  You'll get there faster and feel better.  You can find additional rental horses if need them at a faster rate than walking to an outfitter camp, and you can carry more gear in.

4:  Hire a helicopter.  Same idea as an outfitter camp, but faster, more expensive.

5: Base camp, either with an outfitter dropping one off for you, or by doing one or two really heavy loads at a distance that isn't quite as far as you might be considering.  Then spike out from there, once you get your bearings and some elk located.  Come back to camp to refresh after two or three days of harrassing the bulls.  Along the same lines, have some semblance of a camp available at the trailhead if you have to come back for something and need to spend a night in the truck.  Say, for instance, you need to come back out for more food and don't want to hike all the way back in on the same day, you'll want to be able to have the option of sleeping in or next to the truck.  Also, if you are packing game out and don't want to go all the way back in, you're going to want to be able to sleep at the trailhead.

Anyway, just throwing some ideas out there for anyone else considering something similar.

And sorry if this has nothing to do with the kind of info you were looking for.

808bowhunter's picture
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Joined: 11/18/2010
Posts: 7
The terrain we hunt here for

The terrain we hunt here for goats is about one mile an hour, sometimes less and we cover more elevation than we will in Colorado.  Google earth has helped me find our elevation changes.  I also never planned on ten mile hike.

We are doing a 6 day stretch then coming out for more supplies and relocating if we find no elk or going back into the same area. we are planning on 50 to 60 pound packs and have been doing treks here overnight to test all of our gear.

Once again, if any one has hunted the area around Platoro or south fork conejos, I would like to here your input on the area I have been planning out in a private message.

Thanks for the input

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