Going Elk Hunting in the Rockies this Fall


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Coltdriver
March 23, 2003, 12:30 PM
Well, I have decided to go Elk hunting this fall.

I live in the Rockies West of Denver.

Lets hear from all of you experienced Elk hunters out there.

What do you do to insure that you have an enjoyable hunt?

I will post off and on here as I scout through the spring and summer, as I exercise to get in shape and as I learn to track elk.

I have a couple of locations that are in the Game Management Units I have applied to. There will be lots of time in the coming months to get dialed in on the herds and their habits.

But, being a first timer I know there is some great experience out there and I am looking forward to benefiting from your input.

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priv8ter
March 23, 2003, 02:05 PM
Well, without trying to be less than helpfull, I feel the need to say that your question is about as open ended as the classic 'What gun should I buy?' question.

Getting in shape is a good place to start(says the guy eating a Ho-Ho and drinking a pepsi). Unless you are a stand hunter(unusual in the west) there will be lots of walking. Along with that is a nice, comfortable broke in pair of shoes/boots.

Do you have experience hunting at all? I mean, if you are a deer hunter than you at least know the kind of stuff you need to have a decent time in the woods. Any list someone makes is ALWAYS going to have at least ONE item missing from it.

Some of the things I don't leave camp without are a small first aid kit, a flashlight, lighter, knife, and don't laugh, but Toilet Paper is also on my list of MUST have's. I'm too spoiled to use leaf's(besides, I hunt in sage brush country, OUCH).

With some more data as far as what you already know, folks can provide more detailed/helpfull information.

If you are starting from scratch, my advise is try to make a friend on THR to invite you along...starting from gound zero is a tough way to learn things, but it does gaurentee a good learning curve.

Most of all...HAVE FUN!.

Greg

Dan Morris
March 23, 2003, 03:56 PM
You can put up with a lot of daily discomforts as long as you have a comfortable camp, good food, good sleeping bag and tent.
Know your area and above all, get into good shape. Air gets kinda thin at hunting areas.
We, kid n dad, will go back to south end of GMU 15 for mid October season. Full moon and dry had us spooked last year.
Good luck in your hunt.
Dan

Oh yeah, get thouroughly comfortable with the gun you are going to use. Shot placement has killed more than a loud bang!

HSMITH
March 23, 2003, 06:36 PM
Get in shape, get in shape and get in shape. Then learn to navigate without getting lost. Don't take anyone that is going to drag you down, and don't go with anyone you are going to drag down. Hunt hard, but stop to SEE where you are and experience it every few minutes.

444
March 23, 2003, 06:46 PM
The most important thing to make an elk hunt enjoyable is being in shape. You can't be in good enough shape.
If I went right now I would be a very miserable road hunter.

Greybeard
March 23, 2003, 08:13 PM
If you don't already have, 303-297-1192 will let you request booklet on Colo. rules and regs.

At least for non-residents, I understand there is an April 1 (postmark) deadline for some upcoming draw hunts. Proof of hunter ed. course required for those born after 1948. :uhoh: I also noticed where photocopies of the application (in booklet) are NOT acceptable.

' Glad to see ya already investigating. Unfortunately, as a hunter ed. instructor, I see and hear from all too many gringos who seem not to comprende "The Law of the 7 Ps" - Proper Previous Planning Prevents Plenty ;) (ya like that better Art/Oleg? :D ) Poor Performance.

hardcorehunter5
March 23, 2003, 08:35 PM
What are you hunting with (weapon)? Bow rifle or muzzleloader?

Dan Morris
March 23, 2003, 08:39 PM
April 1 is deadline on ALL draw applications, Res or Nonres. I mailed mine today. Kid will get general bull tag, I put in for cow. If I don't get it, will get a bull tag.Going back south of Steamboat.
Either way, we always have a good time!
Dan

Coltdriver
March 23, 2003, 10:05 PM
I was hoping to make this thread a great source for any THR member contemplating an Elk Hunt in the Rockies (as opposed to about me:D) But since I am a first timer, all knowledge and experience from fellow posters is welcome and you can't hurt my feelings by assuming I know anything (or nothing). I find that it is frequently the small details that make a good outing even more pleasurable and a lot of you will have those "if I just had brought one of (insert item name here)" experiences that can make a great difference.

I am from Colorado and live at 8000 feet. Current exercise is 10 to 15 miles a week at a 10 minute per mile pace. That is going to get stepped up a bit and I will get a bit more exercise scouting the game management unit I am applying to. Going from 8000 feet to 9000 feet is a surprising difference. A lot of the unit is over 10000 feet and I expect that unless there is a lot of snow that they may not be down much lower early in the season.

This spring and summer I intend to get to know the unit like the back of my hand. I have been up there a few times hunting small game and can navigate a good portion reliably without a map or a gps. But it took a half dozen trips and a map and a gps to get it sorted out. I always carry great nav aids because you can get lost surprisingly easy.

My 30 06 will get a recoil pad and a scope this summer. Anyone ever try Lyman peep sights to hunt with??

I figure on getting in better shape, scouting out the herds and the area, getting a few campsites set up and going out early if I get the right tag.

I managed to get out in the (Pike National) forest to hunt (small game) nearly every week from September to the end of February. March has seen only one trip because the snow has everything inaccessable (including my driveway for the last week!)

The point about the good camp is well taken. Nothing like being able to get back to dry clothes and hot food.

How about properly preserving the meat in the field? Field prep for packing the meat out? What is the right thing to do with the innards etc?? Maybe someone could describe a course of action from the time the elk is down until you get it packed out.

Keep your experiences and suggestions coming because I am taking them with me this fall:)

444
March 23, 2003, 10:20 PM
When you get the elk down, the party is over. Of course depending on where you got it. Some people are able to drive fairly close to it, some are able to drive an ATV close to it, my buddy even got one on such steep terain that we were able to follow it about 3/4 way to the truck using ropes to hold it back. The last one I got was in thick black timber with blowdowns every five feet. I had to quarter it and pack it out. It took me three trips in a pouring rain which caused me to fall 3-4 times each trip. So, you need to have some kind of pack frame with good padding on the straps. Another nice thing to have is some game bags made of heavy canvas. It is also nice to have something like a bed sheet to attempt to keep the meat clean as you cut it up. I also used the sheet to hang up between trees as a marker of the downed elk. You will also need some kind of meat saw.

JohnDog
March 24, 2003, 03:54 PM
What do you do to insure that you have an enjoyable hunt?

Well, I was going to give you a quick answer that being warm, dry and well fed always went a long way to making an enjoyable hunt. But in retrospect, even if I'm hungry, cold and getting snowed on I'm usally having a good time if I'm out hunting. I guess it's just a matter of attitude.

Sounds like you've got the scouting figured out. Once you get your rifle set up, practice shooting like you'll need in the field - sitting, kneeling, braced positions. Estimating distance to game animals while scouting them is something else you can do.

You didn't say what unit or season you are going to hunt. If you are going to hunt any other season other than the first rifle season, be prepared for the elk to be somewhere else than where you saw them all summer. First rifle season will push the elk up high to some distant black timber, or onto private land, or both. Then you'll need some weather to get them to move down, or around.

Hope this helps

JohnDog

JGReed
March 26, 2003, 10:13 AM
Once the elk is down the work starts and there's a lot of it if you're alone. Just rolling that sucker around is a real chore.

I'm meat hunter so I like to take everything if I can, but I am typically hunting with a few guys so it's easier. In CO you are required to take all edible meat, but the head and ribcage are considered offal. Don't forget the backstraps if you leave the ribs though!!!

You'll NEED a pack w/frame. I have an old external frame pack I use. It's nice because I can use the compartments to hold the backstraps, pelvic area (loins?) etc. Course it's pretty ugly now...those blood stains don't really come out. Bring rope to lash the quarters tight to the frame or you'll have a tough time balancing when it shifts around. If you want to wrap the meat on the way out use cheesecloth or game cloth or a bed sheet. I advise against using trash bags because they are way too slippery and the blood will pool at the bottom. I've heard that some guys leave the skin on until getting to camp, but it's too heavy and slippery for me that way. Some guys also bone it in the field but I've never tried that. Oh, and don't forget to tag it immediately.

Once you get back to camp, depends on how long you'll be there and what the weather is like. One year we hung an elk for four days, but it was frozen the whole time. Covering the meat is OK, but remember that the sun will heat it up even if the air is cool. If it's gonna be warmer I would get it to a processor as soon as possible.

Someone else mentioned boots. I agree...don't try hunting in new boots. Make sure they're well broke in, cuz blisters will put a real dent in the fun. Painful and makes it hard to walk quietly.

labgrade
March 27, 2003, 02:08 AM
I agree: Kinda an opened-ended question as "what caliber to
use:"

Lotsa stuff to cover here, & maybe should break it down into three different areas:

1) how to have a decent camp (but stay dry & warm while hunting, etc.)

2) how to actually hunt

&

3) what to do with it once it's down


for 1) I use capilene under-wear, down over & a fleece/camo Gore-Tex overcoat while hunting/hanging out. Works very well with the low humidity CO has to offer during "winter-stuff," even with wet snow we can get. Camp-stuff may-well include some "basic" GT nylon over-coats to maintain my fleece-stuff. We camp re a more "back-packing" mode & don't really have the "drying out-thing" that some "more sophisticated camps" have. (No Winnebagos, no "hunters tents,") we're in a backpacking mode, with bare essentials - but we do eat well. ;)

But, it works quite well, & if you can do it on the edge, you can do it anywhere.

2) I hunt dark timber almost exclusively - & essentially "bow-hunt" with a rifle. Elk/deer live there & only go to food to eat - otherwise, they live in areas they feel safe in - especially when pressured. Go there. Areas that are usually given a "pass" by most hunters (except to walk through noisely) are prime bedding aaras & that's where elk spend a majority of their time - the darker, the better.

Lurking aroung "prime feeding areas" will get you an elk or two, but they don't live there. Elk live mostly where they feel safe, & that isn't in the open - unless they're migrating & that's another totally different deal.

Me & The Bud are at an about 85% success rate.

3) I carry a couple 1/2" wide X 20' straps & another 100' 550 'chute cord. No telling where you'll down an elk & being able to stop the darned thing from "falling dow-hill" is always a good thing. I've had elk "fall downhill while processing" easily a hundred feet, depending on the hill-slope - usually less, but ..... best to be prepared.

I'll do a "quick-skin," quarter & hang the hunks, bone the back-straps/tenders in a bag & go for camp (that's about 30 lbs BTW extra in the pack), get to camp, have an adult libation & tell "the friends."

Hanging the remainder in the shade will allow the remainder to be "aging (if nothing worse), for another day or two - & certainly nothing worse than would be had at camp.

The course of the next coupla days gets the rest of the meat to camp & stored in the shade = a perfect place for hanging meat. I don't beat myself up, but do ty to get it back to camp in a timely manner.

I have yet to have a single ounce of meat go to waste.

Others have a better time packig in deeper & having an area to themselves, we don't have that luxury, as we hunt publically available public land.

We hunt where there's some fairly extreme pressure - all-in-all, but do quite well all-told.

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