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Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt
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Dawgdad
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:05 pm    Post subject: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

My son and I have talked about a DIY Colorado public ground Elk hunt for years and his deployment schedule is going to work out that we can actually pull it off this year. Very Happy

I have been getting fit and running and hiking with a 30# pack and have the 300 Win Mags dialed up with 190 Berger hunting VLD's.

We had a suggestion to try the area around Grand Mesa (GMU41/411 and 42/421) and have decided to go for 2nd rifle season in an area that is about 9200-10,000 feet. I have done a map recon and a internet photo search of the area and it looks promising with open "meadow" on the top and faces of aspen and pine on the north face with many water pot holes (reservoirs) available.

We are considering camping as they say "dispersed" and not in a campground. We have all of the hunting gear from decades of deer hunting in Illinois and are buying frame packs in anticipation of bringing back some elk meat.

I have a lot of questions but I will start with What is the one thing most rookies to the Rockies overlook in hunt prep?

Do you think I could pull a 6'x10' enclosed trailer up a forest service road with my 4x4 Chevy K2500?

It would be a nice to have but not a have to have place to store things out of bears reach.

Should I expect to have a lot of company? This place looks to be an out of the way place by the map but I am aware of what can happen on opening morning on public ground when 5 other guys found the same spot you did.

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DallanC
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:52 am    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

I wish i knew more about your specific area but a few things:

You should be able to pull that trailer up most forest service roads. Pay attention to signage, some may be marked no trailers usually due to too tight of bends.

Next, you will not be alone. There will be people pulled off in every place you can get a trailer / camp site. Here in Utah people start taking their trailers to the hills weeks before hunts start to reserve a spot.

On the hills themselves, yea people will be everywhere. Elk like to run a long distance when spooked so finding saddles between canyons, or other overlooks you can sit on where animals can run past are good ideas.

Its been an extremely warm year so far, so animals currently are very very nocturnal due to heat. Open canyons with water near dark pine stands are good spots.

Finally, if elk have been in an area for any length of time, they will beat down some pretty big trails. If you follow trails into dark timber, look listen and SMELL for them. You can usually smell elk long before you can see them in the timber.

What time of year is your hunt?

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slimjim
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:34 am    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

As you know the further you get from any service road, the less people there will be. Are you hunting for one elk or two? You don't need a 300 Win Mag to take elk. You will appreciate a light rifle. A .270 with a good 130gr bullet (GMX, LRX, EDL) will harvest and elk very effectively. At those altitudes, even on a cold day, a 400 yard shot will have the velocity/energy of a 300 yard shot at sea level.

I have found the AR-style slings that allow you to carry your rifle in front of you are great for hiking and being prepared for a quick shot. I'm right handed so the sling goes over the top of the right shoulder and comes out under the left arm. It works with a pack for me but I use an internal frame back and was carrying 60 pounds. I rigged a wide strap to be on top of my rifle. I'll take a picture and post when I get home. It also allows me to use a walking stick.

Learn the gut-less field dressing method. I practiced on some hogs and a deer so I was ready. I would debone the meat to save weight and space if you have a long hike out. I hunt elk for meat so like harvesting a cow elk that is around 3 years old and I still get 100 to 120 pounds of meat. A big bull could yield 200 pounds of meat. Cabela's has nice meat bags but I've been using heavy compactor trash bags when deboning and you can get the meat cooled down soon enough.

This will be a fun thread.

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Dawgdad
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:23 am    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

Great start. I appreciate the feedback.

Dallan,
Second Gun season in CO is 10/21-10/29. If it stays hot that may bode well for a late rut. We are planning for anything from 70's and sunny to a Blizzard at 10000 feet that time of year.

The plan is to go halfway back into the drainage - because there will be hunters coming in from the other side too....hopefully we can get ahead of the pressure form the guys staying closer to the trails.

We may drop the trailer at a base camp a couple of miles down the trail and then bivy camp up on the top if we find a herd running in the area. There is a risk of our presence pushing them down lower but we will make that decision based on where everyone else has camp set up. It may well turn out that if there are hunters camping on top - they may push the elk down in the morning rather than up.

We fully intend to use the gutless method. Hope we get the chance to pack some meat out. I don't want it to be too warm so we can hang the meatbags. while we pack down the mtn. My Son has ordered some Caribou Gear bags.

I don't intend to be making snap shots at the elk so I bought one of the Zorn packs that hold the rifle inline with your spine for my day pack. I carry my AR's in the front carry slings all the time I will rig on up for the model 70 too.

300 WM is what was in the safe along with a 30-06 of the same weight. Both are the very light pencil barrel synthetic stock models. They are not that much heavier than my model seven .243. The 190 Berger VLD load is shooting 1/2 MOA at 200 yards and the 30-06 with a 180gr Partition load is just a hair under 1 moa. Way accurate enough for elk sized target. I don't intend to shoot more than twice so recoil is not an issue.

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PaulS
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

DawgDad,
If those elk are like the elk in Washington they will stay close to the middle of a ridge. They don't seem to like the top or the bottom here. We usually hunt from the upper third and the lower third of the hills and that's when we see them. It depends a lot on the amount of ground cover and how thick the trees are but I have never seen an elk silhouetted along the top of a ridge. Once in a while we have watched them cross the bottom from one ridge to the next but it is usually close to a river or stream or a gully that they can find cover.

I wish you a good hunt and a lot of tasty meat. (wish I was going with you but I would just slow you down)

Happy hunting!

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slimjim
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

Dawgdad, I've only hunted elk in New Mexico. If you spoke elk in their beds, they go 8 to 15 miles to find a new bedding area. They usually come down out of the hills around 430pm (get up out of their beds) to start feeding then head back up in the morning. Catch them in the lower pastures or going up in the morning or down in the evening and they will stay in the area. If you are in the rut, hunting in day-time may work ok. Otherwise, we didn't hunt during the mid-day.

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hunterjoe21
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

Dawgdad wrote:


I have been getting fit and running and hiking with a 30# pack and have the 300 Win Mags dialed up with 190 Berger hunting VLD's.

We had a suggestion to try the area around Grand Mesa (GMU41/411 and 42/421) and have decided to go for 2nd rifle season in an area that is about 9200-10,000 feet.

I have a lot of questions but I will start with What is the one thing most rookies to the Rockies overlook in hunt prep?

Have you hunted at elevation in the past?

You mention deer hunting in Illinois in your original post...from what I can find the average elevation there is about 600 ft above sea level. The difference in oxygen levels between 600 feet and 6000 feet is something you can't prepare for in advance, let alone getting up to 9000-10000 feet.

I have very limited experience hunting in higher elevations, but was surprised by the difficulty it presents, even though I had been told about it before we headed out the first time. I've been told by folks here that there is no way to get accustomed to it other than doing it...

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DallanC
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:52 am    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

All depends on the area. I've seen elk run to the next county at the sound of a car door slamming. And I've seen an elk shot out of a herd that moved 200 yards away and kept feeding. Weird and unpredictable animals. Usually if spooked they will find new bedding areas, but if they have been very habitual, they will return to a spot the next day.

Around here lately, more elk are found lower at 5000ft than higher elevations. Probably due to being somewhat safer on private ground than the higher national forests.


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slimjim
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

My comment regarding moving long distance when spooked was referring to being disrupted when they are bedded. When we disrupt elk when they are feeding or transiting to/from the feeding, they usually run until they feel safe stop momentarily to look back and take stock of the situation. I've gotten 1/2 my elk in this scenario but the shot is usually 200 to 400 yards away.

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slimjim
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

Oh, during cow only hunting seasons, bulls seem to know that they aren't being hunted and sometime will just keep on feeding even with 50 yards but the cows are on high alert are get spooked even when we are 1000 to 1200 yards away when they spot us. I've watched them go into the trees then turn around, stick their necks out to look at us, then take a few steps out into the field only to turn and go back into the trees and repeat.

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Dawgdad
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:30 am    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

Thanks guys. Great discussion.

I am looking at three areas two at lower elevations below 7000 and the one at 10000. In order to be ready I have been getting my old a$$ in shape. I have been hiking in some trails with 50-60 foot ravines so I get a 1000 foot of ups in a 4 mile trek. I am carrying a 25# pack and did 9.5 miles last Friday. I ordered the Vorn Lynx for my day pack and will start carrying it and wearing the new Irish Setter Elk Tracker boots to make sure all is good with that gear. Before the October trip I will have the pack fully lined out and loaded and do that 9.5 mile loop weekly. My work schedule lets me be done at noon on Friday and that is about a 3 hour hike.

I have been running regularly at a 8:00/ mile pace for 3-4 mile 3 x a week and doing Stairmaster and swimming on the off days. I have an "Altitude Mask" that I wear to simulate high altitude. I have been able to work out with the 3000' setting with no problems and will be pushing up to 6000 and 9000 and 12000 settings in the weeks to come. Also, I heard good things about the herbal Altitude Advantage. I know all of this stuff wont make me a Sherpa but I plan to take it a week prior to the trip. I may not be able to handle 10000 feet but it wont be because I was not trying to be prepared. I also intend to get to the hunting area two days early to acclimate.

I have made a contact in the Mesa /Grand Junction area who has guided in that forest in the past. He is moving to PA but as a favor to a mutual friend will do a map recon and a sanity check of my gear list with me. He was the one that pointed me to those spots. With your input and his I hope to put myself in a good position to be successful and bring home the big herd bull.

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Gil Martin
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

Sounds like you are going to have a great hunt. Some years ago, I hunted elk outside Steamboat Springs in the National Forest at 9,000 to 10,000 feet. It was mid-October and we had snow. Hunting in thin air can be a challenge even if you are in good physical condition. Take it easy and you should be fine. The scenery was magnificent even though I did not get an elk. There were plenty of hunters around from all over the country. We did see elk on adjoining private land, but the property owners wanted a stiff trespass fee to hunt on their land. Be careful about where you are hunting and avoid trespassing on private property because they have stiff fines for violations. Enjoy the hunt. All the best...
Gil.

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slimjim
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

Dawgdad wrote:
I am carrying a 25# pack

Just going to ask it. Why 25 pounds? I think you should be training with at least 50 pounds. I've been doing that for a year now and I don't feel like I am accomplishing anything if I hike with any less. When you go to hike out with any meat, you likely will be carrying 70+ pounds.

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Dawgdad
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

Slim - The 25# was for the first time on that trail. I wasn't sure how it would go and did not want to find out the hard way I needed to drop some weight.

I have been on flat land for 5 miles with 40# and will continue to up the load in the weeks to come until the trip. I intend to be able to do that 10 mile loop with 50#-60# the week before. 70-100# for shorter duration to build up some more leg strength.

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Dawgdad
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Colorado DIY OTC Elk Hunt Reply with quote

Did 60 minutes with 60 pounds after work tonight on a flat trail.

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