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Joined: 07/16/2009
Posts: 63
Unit 5, 26, 47, or 471?

I feel like the guy who walks into the gun store and asks the salesman "what gun should I buy?" Anyway, we are stuck on where to go. As the new norm, I didn't get my draw tags this year and plan B archery season got shot (pun intended it's a cool story), and now it's plan C, well, which we never had. We've decided on a 2nd season OTC hunt, even though I swore after a 2nd season hunt two years ago I'd never let myself be another orange flotsam in a sea of orange flotsam. But the wife said it was a good time to go, so be it. We hunt 2nd season. I've done more math calculating success rates, hiking distances, hunter densities, topography pitches, Google Earth analysis, and DOW Hunting Atlas Elk concentration areas than work in the last week. All but to no avail. My threesome group has ATV's, trucks, a Jeep, three horses, tents, and a camper at our disposal. Sounds like a dream come true...almost. One of the guys has a bum ankle full of titanium plates and screws so walking is VERY difficult especially on steep terrain. He's a good guy so we're not leaving him behind, plus he cooks.

Here's the quick rundown on pro's and con's.

Unit 5 - never been there, isn't overly steep, HUGE elk concentration according to the DOW Atlas, and good success rates the last three years in a row. Access is ? Not a lot of hunters, but not a lot of land to hunt either. Lots of roads through the unit, so I imagine the hum of ATV’s at 5:00am would be a great alarm clock or noise cover for us walking through the woods if we drove our ATVs first.

Unit 26 - this is the odd ball, success rates suck and there are lots of hunters, but I've been to the unit numerous times (who hasn’t hunted the Flat Tops in Colorado?) and have (or had) a good feel for where I could find critters...but it's been over five years since I stepped foot there. It’s definitely a pack-in, Wilderness type hunt if we want to see anything other than camp-robber mountain-jays.

Unit 47 - Good success rates and a List B cow license is available. Access is difficult, mountains are steep, and it's mostly dark timber, which I think I've seen my share of. Oh look, another mish-mash of pick-up-stick logs twisted and gnarled so tight you can't even see through it. But hey, its elk season so let's crawl through it at 4:00am with only a headlamp – been there done that. I heard there's a small meadow at the top that holds 7x7's with bullseye tattoos on their chest, but I think it's a long shot to think we can just walk in, find the meadow and shoot our fill without any preseason scouting.

Unit 471 - A secret hot spot of elk with great success rates for bulls and an available List B cow license. Sounds awesome except you need to be Spiderman or wear a mountain climbing harness and bring two dozen anchor points and carabiners to get anywhere in the unit. Plus access is well, not existent. This unit is like seeing a fishing report that states the trophy fish are on a feeding frenzy in the center of Lake Michigan and all you have is a 16' aluminum Lund with a single outboard. Even with horses, it's a good day or two to get to the interior of this unit, and that’s assuming the horses were 5.11 climbers in a previous life.

So mighty hunters, what is your advice?

Greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Joined: 08/30/2012
Posts: 9
gmu 47,471

I'm new to these areas but hunting gmu 47 2nd season. I did scouting in both of these areas. I just wanted you to know that no atv or vechiles are allowed inside the park. Those roads in 47 on the maps are closed off and barely go far enough in than a mile for hiking. Which your going to have go in a lot more than that to kill a good bull if thats what your looking for. 471 is steep and has lots of deep valleys and hunting these valleys towards the tops can provide good success. I hear 43  is a great spot with lots of elk near these areas. This area might be the best spot since a lot hunting is done using old roads to get you in deep. I hear its a new hot spot though so beware of a lot of new hunters poping in and a not knowing where to go. I talked to a outfitter group in 43 and they killed a lot of good elk in recent years. He was saying it was the best spot for mullies in high country for a long time but the elk are getting bigger in the area with the right scouting. Im planning on do a hunt there next year. Just letting you know also that killing a 7x7 in these units would be rare but not extremly rare. These are not trophy elk areas and im pretty sure its not as hidden of a gem as it sounds. Remember it is a OTC unit, but does hold a ton of land if you own a helicopter, so I hope you get a big one.  If you do hunt these areas please do post your opinion or success. 

COMeatHunter's picture
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Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Joined: 06/01/2011
Posts: 620
Unit 5 will defnitely have

Unit 5 will defnitely have the most elk.  But it will also have the most hunters and the smallest legal bulls.  There is a lot of private property too and getting permission takes an act of God.  That said, this is probably the best chance to punch your tag.

Good luck and have a great hunt no matter where you end up going.

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 07/13/2011
Posts: 917
I got thrown into an OTC hunt

I got thrown into an OTC hunt this year, and i'm not real happy. I'm not sure i'll even do it. With more research on unit 55 for 2nd rifle. It could have well over 2000 hunters. I also checked 47, and 471. I don't see it being much better, and harder terrain to hunt on top of it.

If I can't hunt the muzzleloader season from now on. Which was what I had planned this year. I won't hunt. I can't stand too many hunters.

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Joined: 07/16/2009
Posts: 63
scouting update

After much debate we opted for Unit 5. We took a long drive this weekend to check out the unit. Didn't see any bulls, but did see cows. Saw LOTS of deer. There isn't that much private land in the area, but most of the private land owners have locked gates on the roads that access Forest Service land. That wasn't expected. We had to adjust our strategy a little and did some additional driving, but I think we got it figured out. The main roads in the unit are smooth enough for a 2-wheel drive car, but the ones that show “4x4 Trail” on the map, well, they really mean it. The smaller roads are rough, very narrow and steep. The truck acquired a nice dent in the rear quarter panel as the tire kicked up a log. Maybe Mother Nature will reward me with an elk in compensation.
We saved at least of a day if not two, of scouting during hunting season. Just finding a place to camp was difficult. Most Forest Service roads in Colorado have pull-offs ever mile or so with primitive camp sites. Not this area. We have three camp site options, two with water - which is huge considering just about every stream and lake we drove by was dried up. The effects of the drought this year are unbelievable. I've never used water as hunting strategy before, but I am thinking about changing that this fall.
I think it’s going to be a heavily hunted unit and we are expecting to share a camp site with other hunters. Hopefully we can get far enough in on Friday with a spike camp, that when all the hunters run into the woods Sat. morning, they push the elk towards us.

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