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What am I doing? DIY CO Elk Hunt

I have been thinking about a Colorado elk bowhunt for the last few years.  I finally have a trip planned for labor day weekend 2013.  Im not going with an outfitter.  This is going to be a complete DIY bowhunt on public land.  Im sure we wont be abe to draw a good tag, so Im going to plan on a OTC tag. 

I am a Texas deer hunter and I understand that I know basically NOTHING about what we are getting into on this hunt.  I also understand that there is an excellent chance of not even seeing an elk during the trip. 

I would be interested to hear any suggestions you seasoned CO elk hunters have for me.  Im not going after a big bull.  Im going to get experience.  A cow woould make us just as happy as a 6x6. 

It will be a 5 day hunt.  There will be 3 of us (only 1 hunter) that are savvy on Colorado backcountry hiking/camping. 

I know the odds are stacked against us, but we are doing it anyway.  Does anyone know of a decent OTC unit that might yield a cow for a few rookies? 

Critter's picture
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Find a map of the White River

Find a map of the White River National Forest and hang it on your wall. Next get yourself a dart and throw it at the map.

There, we have now found you a good spot to start elk hunting. As a FYI the White River National Forest has the largest elk herd in the US and can be hunted with a OTC either sex tag.

Now all you need to decide is if you want to backpack into a hunting area or if you want to drive into one. Either way you should have a fun hunt. The only real problems may be the weather. If next summer is hot and dry like this last one was with little water you will find the elk lower than usual but if you are mobile you should at least be able to find some.

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Wow, The White River Forest

Wow, The White River Forest was our first pick because we heard about the large elk population,  but I read somewhere (probably a thread with an uninformed post) that you could not get OTC tags for that area.  Its perfect, becuause its only 100 miles from my buddies place! Im still trying to get used to the Colorado DOW site.  Its a total information overload!

Is that area usually packed with hunters during the archery season?

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You can get information

You can get information overload by trying to sort through the Parks and Wildlife web pages trying to find information that is quick and easy in a big game guide book. The population of hunters will be heaver Labor Day weekend just because of the long weekend, not to mention the non hunters that will be out and about just camping. If you follow this link it will take you to a order form for the new guide book which will be out in February if it is easier for you to follow.

 http://wildlife.state.co.us/RulesRegs/HuntFishRegulationsBrochures/Pages/BrochureOrderForm.aspx

Also I have a page out of the book from 2012 that shows you the OTC either sex tags in the darker color.

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exbiologist's picture
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Right

Not all of the White River National Forest is in the Flat Tops, which is what most people are referring to, and even then only about 2/3 of it is draw only.  The White River National Forest also covers parts of the Battlements Unit 42, Maroon Bells, Hunter-Fryingpan, Holy Cross, Red Mountain and lots of other country.

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exbiologist wrote: Not all of

exbiologist wrote:

Not all of the White River National Forest is in the Flat Tops, which is what most people are referring to, and even then only about 2/3 of it is draw only.  The White River National Forest also covers parts of the Battlements Unit 42, Maroon Bells, Hunter-Fryingpan, Holy Cross, Red Mountain and lots of other country.

 

Sorry, exbiologist, can you translate that to something this simple minded texas treestand hunter would understand?  We are fine with difficult terrain.  Which units would you suggest int he White River Forest?

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State versus federal management units

My point is that units 12, 23, 24 and 33 are in the White River National Forest and are part of the Flat Tops (essentially a mountain range/terrain feature).  This area includes the White River, and all of these units are limited draw for archery.  

Unit 43, 47, 471, 44, 45, 444 and 42 are also in the White River National Forest (a Federal Management Unit within the Forest Service) but contain different terrain features, drainages, mountains, elk herds etc.  All of those units are also OTC for either sex archery.  

In addition, for those set on hunting the Flat Tops, the eastern side has a few OTC units in 25, 26 and 231, and are either part of the Routt National Forest or White River National Forest.

I generally don't suggest units anymore, especially for such in-demand seasons as OTC archery.  Besides, planning and homework is part of the fun.  Spend some time with some maps and statistics and your buddies this winter and a few places will start to rise to the top for you.

 

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If you don't want to hunt an

If you don't want to hunt an OTC unit. You can get an either sex bow tag for unit 55 easily with no points if you take it as a 1st pick.

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I dont have a probem with an

I dont have a probem with an OTC tag.  I just want to make sure we dont pick a unit that has bad terraign, or worse... no elk.

 

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Consider this...

You should at least consider applying for a limited license, plenty of them can be had with no points as a nonresident, it's the OTC tag that should be your last option, not your first.  Those units will have twice to 5 times the pressure of a limited license.  Regarding terrain, you'll want rough terrain if you expect to get into elk with an OTC tag or easy to draw limited license.  They all have elk somewhere (at least west of I25).

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Location: Texas
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another ignorant texas bowhunter

i am in the same situation trying to plan my first ever elk hunt. when do they do the drawing?  do you pay for the tags then? if you get drawn, is that tag good for the entire archery season?

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