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Joined: 12/13/2006
Posts: 11
Starting the planning early

Im actually starting real early. A couple friends and I are planning on a elk hunting trip in 2010. Im starting to look at the statistic and try to narrow down where we want to go. The plan is to do an otc rifle bull hunt. Im kinda confused though...do the units that offer otc tags stay the same every year? and is it possible to get either a cow tag also or an either sex tag otc? I would love to get some antlers but I would hate to only be limited to bull(I really want to put meat in the freezer). Most likely we will be hiking in several miles and doing a remote camp hunt. I looked into several drop camps but they are all over 1000 per person and thats a little much for us.

So if you have any suggestions on where to start that would be great.

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Location: Teton Valley, ID
Joined: 08/01/2008
Posts: 106
Starting the planning early

It's tough to know what will happen two years from now.

Idaho has non-resident OTC elk tags. Bull and cow are separate seasons. You can hunt General deer and bull elk at the same time.

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Joined: 12/13/2006
Posts: 11
Starting the planning early

So do the units that offer otc tags change on a yearly basis? I haven't looked much into Idaho....Do they each offer about the same opportunity to see elk given we put forth necessary effort? Also which state usually has more otc tags to offer?

Thanks

exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
Starting the planning early

The otc bull tags rarely change. If you want either sex, you need to apply for those tags most years. You can often buy cow tags(in addition to, not instead of) as leftovers or an easy draw in the otc units. I think I tried to disuade you from this kind of hunt last time you asked, but you can always rent a horse from Sombrero Outfitters for about $400 a week.

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Joined: 12/13/2006
Posts: 11
Starting the planning early

exbiologist...thanks for the reply. So we may be able to purchase a cow tag otc or a leftover depending on availabilitly in the unit we choose correct. I'm sure these same questions get asked all the time so you probably confused me with somebody else but this is my first time asking about elk hunting. If you could would you explain why you would recomend another type of hunt. We know it will be a lot of work but 2 of the guys im going with are used to packing a lot of weight on their back and hiking for hours since the both just got out of the armed services and I just finished college football and the other kid is young enough to not care. But I would still like your insight on our situation.

Thanks

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Joined: 12/13/2006
Posts: 11
Starting the planning early

After looking over sombrero's website I don't think I would be comfortable caring for the horses for a week. I don't think any of us have any experience with horses particularly caring for them. Also, would they even be able to carry anything more than a rider since we would have to pack in feed for them?

exbiologist's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2399
Starting the planning early

Sorry about mistaking you for someone, I just wrote about this a week ago to someone who wanted to attempt this with his wife.
It's not just about physical fitness, its about safety and familiarity with your gear. Drop camps are usually done with someone else's equipment, much of which you may have never used and the outfitter isn't going to sit there with you and put everything together.
As for backpack hunts, they are some of the most satisfying hunts you can imagine, but few people attempt them during rifle season. I've done them in Montana's special backcountry units where you can hunt with a rifle in September. Later in the season, hunts like this can be a real nightmare due to the weather variability. If you KNOW, not just think, but KNOW you can handle this kind of hunt, go for it. They are tons of fun. But first get yourself a BLM map of the area you will hunt and then the USGS 7.5 minute topos when you have narrowed down a series of drainages.
I remember one year in college I went out to unit 316 in Montana to scout the trail because it was my first time attempting it. It was the day before the season and a surprising number of outfitters were heading out with clients. There was one guy from Minnesota who was checking over his gear in the parking lot and I offered to help him carry some of his gear (30+ pound fanny pack) to the beginning of the unit, which began 5 miles from the wilderness boundary trailhead. He had been running marathons to prepare, but could barely get started up the trailhead due the weight of his pack and the elevation. When I stopped to look at one of my topo maps at a fork in the trail, his jaw dropped. He had no idea that such a map existed. He had merely torn out a page of the Delorme Atlas! He offerred me $20 for mine, but I refused because they were fresh out of them in Bozeman and I was coming back next week. It bothers me to this day that I didn't just give the poor guy my maps.
But back to your concerns...
There are four ways to purchase tags in Colorado:
Limited draw licenses. Apply by the first week in April. That's your best bet to get an either sex license.
Over the counter licenses with cap. As far as I can tell only Units 25 and 26 offer those as first come first serve beginning in August. And they are cow only
Unlimited over the counter bull licenses. Many of the west slope units have these.
Limited draw leftovers. The big game booklet gives you an idea of which units typically offer leftovers after the draw. They are still limited, and some disappear the day they go on sale in August.

I wouldn't do this kind of hunt alone, you mentioned you had at least a couple of guys who can handle this that will likely come. When youre alone you have no one to share common gear with, bounce ideas off of, straighten you out when you get turned around, pack game, etc.
At least attempt a summer pack trip with these guys first, but realize that fall weather will be FAR WORSE, or incredibly pleasant, but be prepared for both.

Given that you aren't familar with western big game tag structures, I assume you are an easterner, midwesterner or southerner. Neither of whom are familiar with, or have easy access to good USGS maps. However National Geographic produces excellent maps for some areas of Colorado and Utah. Get your hands on those, but realize some trails and roads will be mislabeled.

I always recommend people car camp, or RV camp, or rent a cabin for their first western big game hunt before they attempt a backpack or drop camp. You can bring more gear, get in less trouble because you are less likely to go extremely far, and be more comfortable. You're less likely to swear off western big game hunts after your first time because it's tough to have a collossal failure. And realize you probably wont get anything. Guys like me and numerous others on here can tell you what not to do, but you need to learn from your own mistakes, just try not to make a catastrophic mistake. That's why I recommend car camping on your first attempt.
I'm happy to answer any other questions, as I don't see other hunters as competitors, but teammates. And I don't mean to make assumptions about your abilities, but I don't want you to get killed or have to be rescued.

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Location: Teton Valley, ID
Joined: 08/01/2008
Posts: 106
Starting the planning early
Lmiers wrote:
So do the units that offer otc tags change on a yearly basis? I haven't looked much into Idaho....Do they each offer about the same opportunity to see elk given we put forth necessary effort? Also which state usually has more otc tags to offer?

Thanks

Tags can change on a population basis.
Our population is about 115,000. Here in eastern Idaho the wolves are really making hunting tough
Don't know which states have the most non-resident OTC tags

Location: Richfield, Utah
Joined: 11/26/2008
Posts: 64
Starting the planning early

If you want to send me an email I will explain our utah elk hunting to you and get you lined out on putting in for a DIY or guided / semi guided, limited entry, getting a general season or an antlerless tag. We have some great elk hunting right now.

email: hightopoutfitters@q.com

best of luck.

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Joined: 04/25/2008
Posts: 26
Starting the planning early

I have a small group of 4 that is planning an archery elk in CO next year. We have been planning it now for about 6 months. I have found CO DNR to be very cooperative and more than willing to help with any info they can provide. I suggest giving whatever state you decide on a call.

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Location: Palisade, Colorado
Joined: 10/10/2005
Posts: 134
Starting the planning early

If you are considering CO, exbiologist explained things right on. Keep in mind that every 5 years, the season structure comes up for review and possibly change. 2009 is the last year of the current 5 yr structure and 2010 will be the first year of the new. The seasons may change or they may stay the same. Don't know for sure right now. Many possibilities are on the table right now.

http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/BigGame/SeasonStructure/Informationa...

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