I have a fairly nice situation in hand and am asking for a few of you to offer your opinions on what you would do if you were in this situation.
Just to set the stage for you: I am a 60-ish non-resident looking to hunt elk in Colorado. I have hunted elk each year in Colorado for the past 15 years and I have also accumulated 15 elk preference points. (I wish now that I had used them up every few year for a nice hunt, but that is hindsight). I have hunted with a nice group of fellows ranging from 2–5 hunters each year and we have always gone out first or second season rifle. We pack in our own gear and have not hired an outfitter. We have hiked in, used ATVs, and used horses. We really enjoy the trip, camp, fishing, scouting and of course the hunt. Once in awhile we take home some fine elk meat. We started hunting in unit 15 and for the last 10 years we have been hunting in unit 521.
I have been watching and studying the Colorado Division of Wildlife site for these 15 years and I watch the various changes that have an effect on my application. This year I see that I could loose – or gain - due to the hybrid drawings.
Friends have hunted and recommend units 61 and 76. Both appear to be excellent units and within reach at 15 points. I am very confident with my 7mm, and I have a nice muzzleloader that I can also do well with. Archery is not an option. I would be the only hunter, but would bring someone along to help out.
It appears that I could draw a first season rifle hunt in unit 61, or a first season rifle or a muzzleloader season hunt in Unit 76, depending upon the effects of the hybrid drawing (It looks like those hunts will not be affected by the hybrid drawing). I could also try for the magical units in the northwest part of the state – hoping to get in on the 20% of the tags that will go to those who apply with more than 5 points in some units.
The most important thing to me is the quality of the hunt - fewer hunters, seeing and hearing elk, no motors, etc. I can spend time this summer scouting and in the prehunt days scouting some more.
I am willing to pay for an outfitter to take me back in with horses – or get me out with horses, as I would certainly need one in a place like unit 76, but I want to hunt unguided. It’s just a personal thing.
I know that I have not considered all options, and I do not want to limit myself by overlooking other areas and options. So I am asking ……with the 15 points that I now have .....what would you do if you were in my boots ?