Drew my first elk tag!Posted by top_ear2476 on June 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm
Looks like I’ll be in steep country in October, unit 71 in Colorado! Anyone else done this hunt? From what I’ve read most of the elk will be in the high country while I’m there, so the plan is to backpack hunt in. So much to learn before then… so far only ever done east coast whitetail hunting…
EpagnBretGuestJune 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm
I’m from the east coast and live in the mountain west now. I think people have covered the best of it but I’ll repeat some of it. 1. Do not underestimate the value of staring at maps for hours, the most detailed topo hybrid maps possible. Also download them in super resolution. You’ll be able to plot your way across the terrain a lot more efficiently. It’s definitely possible to discern good walking/glassing routes that line up with what is good habitat. 2. Don’t underestimate how cold it can get at night and all the things that means. I’m a cold sleeper and I find I need to subtract 15 degrees from bag ratings even with all my gear on. You need to know what your sleep needs are, and nobody’s giving out stickers for packing too light and getting rotten sleep that makes you nauseated. Also, subtract ten degrees automatically from any forecasted overnight temps, even localized ones. The temp drops hard a couple hours before the sky starts to lighten, almost without fail. Water freezes faster and at higher temps at high elevation, have a plan for that. 3. Don’t underestimate the effect of altitude on your body. If you’ve never been up this high before you need to have a backup plan in case it makes you sick. Fitness level is irrelevant, athletes get hauled off the mountains by their friends all the time. 9000 feet seems to be the line from what I’ve seen and my friends in the conservation industry tell me. Try to sleep below 7000 the first couple nights, even though that looks impossible on that unit. I’ve been living at a mile up for five years and I still have 100% insomnia above 9500 feet the first night. I also lose my appetite, lots of people do. Plan on drinking as much water as you can stomach and move slower than you think you need to to conserve water and calories. 4. Plan on having a lot of fun and taking time to learn throughout the day. Elk hunting is just fun, as is spot and stalk hunting and still hunting which I never got to do with whitetails. Locating a post rut bull a quarter mile away who starts answering your cow call with light bugles because he thinks you’re one of his girls wandering out of the safe zone is exhilarating, as is realizing you’re 20 yards from an elk on the other side of a thicket. You’ll learn a lot about them by being observant to the habitat and where they’ve been as you walk around. 5. Be able to shoot 4-500 yards or 50 on short notice. If you’re just walking through the woods like you belong there (not ultra sneaky, not charging) it’s completely possible to walk right up close to elk before you realize it. I did it twice my first season. I know people who have jumped across ditches and bumped into a bull’s ass because they were looking down, no joke. At the same time you’re likely to locate them on purpose from a long ways off and need to figure out a shot plan several hours in advance. I located my first herd exactly where I expected them to be, on a sunny forested hillside after a cold night with the wind coming down the hill over them. Can’t see them from below, can’t approach from above, had to find a place to shoot from the next hill. I got to the next hill right when they got up and fed around, and I had a combined 90 seconds of shooting time after taking 15 minutes to ID a legal spike bull. I wasn’t good enough to find a line between my treetops, their treetops, drop to my pack and shoot 390 yards before he took another step, and a few minutes later they were back in thick stuff bedded down. I got 4 tries, and on the last one I had started squeezing the trigger when he turned and walked into the brush. That was my whole opportunity. And I’m an above average shot. 6. Be emotionally ready for blowdowns. A blowdown is when God decides he needs to cover up a temporary entrance to hell and breaks off 50 percent of the forest in a given area, making an impenetrable tangle that you couldn’t see through the canopy from satellite images. 7. Just drive your own 4×4 to colorado. Seriously. Don’t trust rentals with factory tires with your life. What’s it going to be, 900 bucks for gas round trip for the trip of a lifetime vs all those plant tickets and shipping meat back? Just get on 40 and never get off until Albuquerque or Gallup, then drive up through Farmington or Shiprock. West Arkansas, OK city, and East NM are all decent areas to crash if you can’t sleep while someone else drives. (7B, only drive E rated AT/MT tires in the mountains. You won’t believe the sharp shit you’ll drive over on the road and off.)
Sorry if this is stupid long, but I’m excited for you and I learned a LOT in the last few years, you won’t believe how cool and different it is.
coltonowen11GuestJune 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm
Congratulations! I was in your shoes last year. Hunted next door at unit 74. As an east coast boy myself ill recommend a few things I learned. Go hunt.com or onx.com is needed. Do lots of scouting. Have lots of planned points on the map already marked within 2-5 miles of any kind of road, youre looking for low saddles that you can use to bounce to higher elevations with less effort. Luckily 71 is pretty road abundant. Early season elk will be near water in high elevation which is majority of the unit luckily. If you’re going alone. Start running everyday and lifting regularly. 800 lbs is a lot to pack out and the elevation is seen to kick ass of those not prepared cardiovascularly. Like not to scare you but if successful its more work than you can imagine. If you aren’t a regular hiker or hunter. Now is the time to kick it into gear. Test your gear to familiarize yourself with it. tent, boots, trekking poles, gps, mealplan the whole shebang. And have solid plans thought out, run common but unpredictable senerios like in case of unfavorable weather, or know what you’re going to do if your bow malfunctions. I spent a pretty penny on my gear list but quality is worth it when you’ve put in that much effort to be in that position to get a bull. Last thing get good at calling. Hoochie mama is the best calf/cow call if you arent familiar with diaphragms. And any bugle tube like phelps or rocky mountian will do the job. They have some with external diaphragms so you dont need to learn how to use the mouth one. If you have any specific questions feel free to shoot them my way. Good luck!
JoelpatGuestJune 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm
Conditioning = miles covered = odds of success. You and your buddies need to have a conversation about conditioning, expectations, and your duty to each other. If you drop a bull 12 miles in and they are too out of shape to help you pack it out, you are on your own. That might take what was doable for three men into something impossible for one. You’ve got to have these things hammered out before it happens.
NovemberGaleGuestJune 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm
Coming from the flatland, you’re going to want to drink a metric fuck ton of water. Be pounding that and the occasional hydration mix, and you’ll mitigate a lot of the risk associated with altitude sickness.
Also set aside multiple days to get the elk out if you’re backpacking. Start brainstorming on ways to keep the meat clean and cool.
bazooka_mattGuestJune 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm
Took my first elk last season just to the north. Just plan on lots and lots of walking. They will ne in the shit. Walk stop and look.
If you can get to Colorado a week or two early do that scout and acclimate to the elevation. A few days at altitude before the hunt it a big deal.
cbeakesGuestJune 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm
Check out fish creek.
coloradoadventures88GuestJune 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm
Congrats on your tag. Here is what I think: have multiple plans, it’s Colorado were we might have highs of 70s or we might have a blizzard, you might get to the perfect spot and come across 10 other guys hunting there, it’s good to have back up plans for different situations so you’re not scrambling over a map with your friends 4 miles for the truck with a 40lb+ pack figuring out what you’re going to do.
Gear, keep in mind which weather station you’re pulling weather from when getting ready. The weather station at the durango airport is not going to be the same that you’re getting at an additional 2k feet up.
Download all the maps, in good resolution, I use onX and download the high res maps, which is it worth it to me, you probably have more than enough storage on your phone, just do it, you won’t regret having better resolution when you’re looking at a drainage before going over 4 ridges to get there.
Something that I think get overlooked a lot, check your zero when you arrive. Find a range or safe spot in national forest and check your zero. However expensive your scope is it doesn’t matter. CHECK IT. Especially if you’re flying, because they aren’t gentle with cases. Also, your drop isn’t going to be the same in NC as CO, so plan on finding a way to verify dope, I use a kestrel which generally lines up fairly good, but again verifying zero and MV is a good idea in a new environment.
ConfidentEmphasis338GuestJune 23, 2022 at 10:17 pm
Is big horn sheep hunting season in effect now?
This time of year they are with their families?