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Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/03/2006
Posts: 23
Southwest Colorado

Three years and three different areas. Thought first hunt 75 would be another slam dunk this year, but the CDOW reduced the licenses by 400 and I got shut out. Good news is I still got a first hunt either sex license, but its in 74. I also got an elk preference point that may or may not come in handy next year. Back to the maps to find another likely spot that elk may be in.

I am getting pretty good at reading a the maps of these different areas and when its all said and done, I will now a little about three different areas in SW Colorado. (trying to find the silver lining) Have not knocked a Colorado elk down yet, but came close opening day last year. Heard the bugle and saw the legs, but he never came out in the clear. Never saw the six or so cows he was with, but I probably would have passed on them anyway considering it was the first day. Then the snow came and forced us out of the mountains. In 2005 we had a third hunt for cows in a lower area, but the weather was so hot that the elk were still up high. Maybe this year the weather will be just right.

Good luck to all
HmG

Alamosa's picture
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Location: Southern Colorado
Joined: 03/25/2005
Posts: 245
Southwest Colorado

I will be hunting unit 74 in November.
I think that unit has a pretty low % success overall.
Let us know how you do.

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Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/03/2006
Posts: 23
Southwest Colorado

According to the CDOW info, the success rate for the first hunt is mid to high 30's. I have been working the maps pretty hard the past few days and areas' north of the ski area seem to have several roads. I am concerned that the concentration of hunters will be in this area. I have a little info on the area around Potato (Spud) Hill so I may check that out as well.

Forest road 581 goes south from the ski area and ends after a few miles. The drainages to the west of there may hold promise if I can get through to them. My thoughts are that several roads in unit 71 lead up to the 71 / 74 line and that the roads and hunters in 71 may push the elk into the roadless areas of 74. Its worth a treck, but it may be a hard treck.

I will check out that area and the areas to the norht when I get up there. I may be able to make a scouting trip in Sept, but with the price of gas and limited time, its a big maybe. I may just add a day onto the front end of the hunt to scout a bit before the season opens. Hi risk though, scouting close to the season.

I would like to get away from other hunters as much as possible. I have a quad, but I only use it as transportation to get me from camp to where I want to hunt. Costs less that my 4X4 to operate and is easier to stash somewhere. My real hunting and the only way to hunt is done by wearing the soles off my boots.

Hunting the third hunt, you may do better down at the southern end of 74 just west of Durango if the weather sets in. Have you made that hunt in the past? Are you hunting cow, bull or both? CDOW shows a 20% cow and 8% bull success ratio. Add in the calves taken and the cow ratio is closer to 25%.

We hunted the third hunt in 73 for cow two years ago, but the weather was so hot there just were not elk to be found. In three days of hard hunting we cut two groups of tracks and it looked as if they were just traveling through and probably at night. One group had five and the other only three. Temps only hit the mid 30's at night and mid to high 70's during the day. Learned a lot about the area though and would like to hunt it again for cows some day.

Maybe this year I'll have a lot of luck combine with a little skill and be able to remove my tag from my back pack. I will let you know how it goes and what I find. HMG

Alamosa's picture
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Location: Southern Colorado
Joined: 03/25/2005
Posts: 245
Southwest Colorado

I don't know if I can impart anything usefull. I'll try to help. Take what I say with a grain of salt because I've never hunted early. I am a late season, snow and high altitude hunter.

That road you are interested in branches into about half dozen distinctly different areas. I've seen elk in all of them. My group has killed quite a few in the strawberry patch and one on Hermosa peak.

If you keep taking left turns and climb through the upper ski area you will eventually come to a dead end. That is the Strawberry Patch, Dutch Creek, and Big Lick. They say that the Strawberry Patch herd is a completely separate herd from the 5000 head Hermosa creek herd. I don't know how they determine that.

Upper Cascade 4x4 road has several steep drainages that hold elk. Tough to sneak up on them from below but they are there.

Hotel Draw area is the place where I most often hear of larger herds. It is steep, has large forests of aspen alternating with thick black timber and open parks. Hiking and hunting the fire roads can be excellent in the snow.

Upper Hermosa Creek trailhead is used by a lot of outfitters and pack strings. I've never hunterd from there but I've seen gut piles in the park to the East of the trailhead. I've also seen picket lines of hunters in the timber on the South side of Hermosa Park waiting for elk to cross toward the South.

Graysill mine is an old yellowcake mine. If you like to hunt above treeline it is a good place to start. Sometimes elk spooked out of the upper Cascade will actually cross over that high divide and come on into the Hermosa side. You will find elk bones here. This is very close to the border of the next unit.

The ski area has a web cam that you can check.
Good Luck to you!

Offline
Location: Arizona
Joined: 10/03/2006
Posts: 23
Southwest Colorado

Alamosa

Sorry for the delay in saying thanks for the information. In looking at the maps, the area south and west of the ski area just looks like a place to be. Its good to know that elk can be found there and that I should at least take a look.

My concern with the area north of the ski area is there are too many roads and the roads will bring too many hunters. Not to mention that most of the threads I have read note that elk tend to stay away from roads. I kinda like to get away from the crowds if I can.

I will check out both areas before the season and then try to determine where I should be come October 13th. Now all I need to do is determine where to put my tent trailer and set up camp! Not sure if it will be available or if I can use it but the Sig Campground is supposed to be available year round, but no facilities will be operational from Sep to May(?). There is not supposed to be a cost during the off months either. Don't know if that's a good spot or if I should just do what I did last year and try to locate a previous camp site off the road that is empty. Main objective is to not set up camp in the middle of an elk use area.

Thanks again for all your info. Maybe I can put it to good use.
HMG

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Joined: 05/18/2007
Posts: 7
UNIT

Almaosa where is the upper cascade road and the hotel draw area you are talking about. I have hunted tha area a few times and dont remember seeing those places. I hunt the strawberry patch some times but it is getting verey crowdy up their. I have been looking at the maps trying to find the areas you talked about and have had no luck yet. Any help would be appreicated thanks

TOM

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Location: lawrence, KS
Joined: 05/17/2007
Posts: 647
Re: UNIT
ET TOM wrote:
Almaosa TOM

you could try east (or a little ENE) of potato hill. i'm not sure of the boundaries of your unit, but i've seen plenty of elk and a few muleys when i was using potato hill as my western geographic reference point. there's a large meadow valley in that area, with expansive hillslopes covered in pines. and a great high ridge composed of quartzite. hard to climb, very straight up, but at the top of the that ridge were a few cases from a .264 WIN, good news being, those cases were old. so nobody's shot any off that ridge and left any evidence of it in a while. (this place lies east of the ski area)

i think this area was refered to beforeby another post, it's mostly a big draw, but if you hike the left side of the draw straight up, you're on top of the ridge i mentioned, then go until you find a nice clear shooting lane somewhere.

the ridge is about 1.5-2 miles or so east. if i ever get to hunt elk in colorado, that is the place i will go... all public land too! a little tib about the hunting of this place though, make sure you get up earlier than everybody else.

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Joined: 05/18/2007
Posts: 7
area

Thanks for the information Ndemiter, I have always been told the name of this place is quartz mou. and it is a tough place to get to. My old body want be back up that way anymore, those days or gone for me. I have to pick a spot that is a little more flat, thats what happens when you dont take care of your body and you get over 55.

TOM

Alamosa's picture
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Location: Southern Colorado
Joined: 03/25/2005
Posts: 245
Southwest Colorado

Start with the main FS road (don't have the number) that goes along the ski area and over into Hermosa Creek. At the ridge the left fork goes to the strawberry patch. The main road continues West toward Hermosa creek. After a short distance another road branches to the right. Keep bearing right to get to the upper part of Cascade creek. The main road follows the East Fork of Hermosa Creek past Sig Creek campground after about 4 miles turns right. Hotel draw is a major drainage to the West after the road turns North and crosses Hermosa Creek.

Sorry this isn't more clear. These places should show on most maps.

ndemiter's picture
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Location: lawrence, KS
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Re: area
ET TOM wrote:
TOM

the name of the place where i was talking about, i think, was right near molas lake.

there's also a good spot on lime creek, between durango and silverton.

those ridges still look small to me, but i'm only 23, so i don't mind stomping a little more than everybody else. i might be in the same situation in another 30 years though, i've been working on a farm since i was born, when i got older i poured concrete, now i'm a packer for a guide in alaska, can't take it easy on the body, it'll just get soft. my long term life stratagy is to die young.

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Joined: 05/18/2007
Posts: 7
area

Alamosa thanks for the help, I finlay got my new glasses and can see a hole lot better. The map is a lot easyer to read now, I have hunted the same spots that you have talked about. Hotel draw is a good place if there is snow, also the big lick and dutch creek area. I will probaly be in one of these areas for 2nd rifle depending on the weather.
Thanks to every one for the help and hope to see you guys in the high country and if not hope every one fills their tags.

TOM

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