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#5637129 - 03/05/15 10:10 PM First CO elk hunt advice???
longhorn3454 Offline

Registered: 10/21/09
Posts: 225
So me and my 3 buddies have finally buckled down and planned our first elk hunt. As much as we wanted to try a trip during gun season, schedules just didn't work out, so we are going in the archery season. We are going to try unit 53 just because, we really don't have much experience so that's where our fingers landed. We will be packing everything in on foot and have already kind of located where we would like to camp and attempt to hunt and have some idea of how far off the trailhead we won't to be.

With this being our first trip we understand the expectations are not in our favors and this is going to be an extreme learning trip for us. But with all that said I know there are several members here that have gone on these hunts and I was just looking for some advice, really any advice at all.

Things that you have learned over time doing these hunts. What you should have packed in and what you should have left at home. We are thinking about hiking in around 4 miles to were we want to set up camp. How did you do things like food and water? If you went in a group how did you tent, small bivy tents or one single group tent. How did you preserve your game if you were lucky enough to kill something? How did you provide yourself with enough water? Being around 4 miles from the truck is possible to stage ice chest there and try and pack an animal to there? How save is it to leave supplies and vehicles at the trailheads? I'm just looking for anything to make the experience as positive as possible.

I've been doing as much research as possible for this trip because I want to make the most of it and not get up there and be absolutely miserable, but being the first time it's hard to imagine exactly what I'm getting into and what my expectations need to be. So I figured some of you with experience might be able to shed some light on this and help me make the most of this hunt.

If you need any other info from me to lead me in the right direction I'll do my best to give it to u.

James C.

Edited by longhorn3454 (03/05/15 11:01 PM)

#5637358 - 03/06/15 07:21 AM Re: First CO elk hunt advice??? [Re: longhorn3454]
Western Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 25948
Loc: Wise County Texas
James, I have never hunted that unit, but have driven through there allot, 4 miles is a haul, will feel more like 10 miles in that terrain. Not trying to discourage you, just being realistic. In other words, you don't want to forget something at the truck. If you can, you also have the option to hire a local horseman that for a fee, will take you in and pick you up.

As far as what to do with an Elk when it's down, that depends, but you will want to break it down immediately to allow cooling. Elk will spoil faster than most fellas think if not cooled. You can pack the qtrs to base camp and de-bone there for the trip out, but I have found it easier to haul, bone in, as a qtr ( I hunt alone 90%, so I leap frog the qtrs out). With a good pack, boned meat will haul great. I also love the cotton game bags, clean place to keep the meat, washable and easy to keep in your pack.

Packing in that far, I would use maximum of small 2 man tents each, this gives each man a place to sleep and storage. A large tent would be a booger to pack in on foot.

You will definitely want to brush up on 1st aid (everyone in the group)

You don't want to leave any meat or valuables at your truck IMO

Depending on y'alls physical shape, you may want to make 2 trips, water is more important than food IMO, it is incredibly easy to get dehydrated in the Mntns. Food, is what you want to pack in, high energy small packable portions work well. Just remember, all trash you haul in, has to come back out, so....

Something to think about and what I/we have done 95% of the time. Find the area you want to hunt and camp at or near the trail head. This has several benefits and negatives. All your "stuff" is in a main camp with your vehicles, plus you can be more mobile if you see, hear elk movement further off. The only negative is you may have to walk more IMO. I have never ran into another archer in the 1st 2 weeks of season (prior to ML) so walking in an hour or two before daylight wont usually disperse a herd to much, not like a camp can. If the need arises, a couple fellas can leave and spike camp on a herd overnight, done that several times.

You definitely want a cow call and know how to use it.

You also will want some cold weather gear, I have bow hunted the 1st week of season in a foot of snow, damn cold mornings and long hikes out. I have also seen it in the upper 80's, it is the mountains after all. Expect anything.

I could go on and on, but others will chime in I'm sure. The main difference will be your hunting weapon, most everything else will be the same as far as hunting and camping goes.

“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic”

Friends don't let Friends drink and post.......

The first 5 day's after the weekend, are the hardest....


#5638136 - 03/06/15 03:14 PM Re: First CO elk hunt advice??? [Re: longhorn3454]
crosshare Offline

Registered: 07/12/13
Posts: 673
^^^ This. Listen to the man, he is wise. up
Never hunted in CO but in other states and on maps and everything else you might think 4 miles packing in is do able but after a mile your mind will change.
Might check this out: Katadyn base camp for your water. I have one and have used it on all my trips in streams, rivers, and small holding ponds and never got sick or had any problems. Saves a lot of room if packing in somewhere and water is nearby.
Like Western said, staying close to the truck at the trailhead is great incase you need something or want to move. Packing in would be a day and packing out would be another. I try to spend time hunting and not being a mule.
Just enjoy, you will forget things you should take and learn things you shouldn't have taken too. After the first trip you will have a better ideal for next time. Good luck! cheers

#5638179 - 03/06/15 03:38 PM Re: First CO elk hunt advice??? [Re: longhorn3454]
EddieWalker Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 08/06/14
Posts: 1567
Loc: Tyler, TX
I don't know that area, I've only hunted elk once in CO and that was the Mt Zirkel Wilderness Area out of Steamboat Springs. My hesitation about hunting CO was from all the stories I heard about the crowds. I don't like seeing other hunters when I'm hunting or where I'm camped at. My thinking is that the more people there are around, the more likely it is that they will scare off the animals that might have been there, or shoot them and scare them off.

We packed in on horses through the forest, then 3 miles into the wilderness. It was far enough to not have anybody else around, but we could still hear the four wheelers racing around during the day. I don't understand four wheelers and hunting, but that's a different topic.

Not knowing the area, I would get as far away from everybody else as possible, and as high up as possible. When the sun comes up, you want to be sitting and glassing. Not hiking and making noise. Elk are going to be moving around at first light and last light. So the same thing applies for the evening. You want to be up high and glassing when the sun goes down. Not at camp or on your way back. You only hike in the dark.

Learn how to bone out an animal. I was taught by a guide in Quebec on a caribou hunt. You never want to carry bones or hair, just pure meat and antlers. A full gown elk is going to take several trips to get it out. I like to carry four pillow cases with me and quarter the animal into the pillow cases, then tie them up to a branch or something to get them off the ground. One sack is a good load in rough country. Two is doable, but you probably wont be able to do that twice. I would rather take four trips and be healthy, then try to overdo it and get hurt.


#5638287 - 03/06/15 04:51 PM Re: First CO elk hunt advice??? [Re: longhorn3454]
Nogalus Prairie Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 11/22/10
Posts: 24393
Loc: Corsicana
There are really only two options:

1)A "base camp" that has a lot of stuff that cannot feasibly be packed in on your back (coolers, lanterns, big tent, etc., etc., etc.) and hunt from there; or

2)True "pack in" hunting where the plan is to carry EVERYTHING on your back.

Option 1 is what 90+% of guys do. You can do a "hybrid" approach where one or two of you "spike out" for a couple of days from base camp also-but that basically requires the same type of gear as Option 2 (minus as much food).

Option 2 is much more specialized. To do it right requires specialized gear and the discipline to take only the gear you need. FOR OPTION 2 WEIGHT IS PARAMOUNT. Lightweight tents, clothing, dehydrated food, packable water filter, etc., etc. is essential. This means learning about a)what gear is essential and b)what good lightweight options are for the gear that is essential. There are whole forums dedicated to this-complete with gear lists and specific clothing/gear recommendations. Ounces count. By way of example, a serviceable 2 man tent may cost $175 and weigh 6-8 lbs., but a true 2 man lightweight expedition tent may cost $450 and weigh 4 lbs. This is true for just about every piece of gear you will need.

If it's your first time in the mountains, I would strongly recommend Option 1. Learn the terrain, learn your tolerances, learn your own comfort level in the mountains. Then, go from there in deciding about future trips.

Most of all, keep it enjoyable for all and have fun!

Edited by Nogalus Prairie (03/06/15 04:53 PM)
Originally Posted By: Russ79
I learned long ago you can't reason someone out of something they don't reason themselves into.

#5638329 - 03/06/15 05:19 PM Re: First CO elk hunt advice??? [Re: longhorn3454]
jefeh Offline

Registered: 05/05/11
Posts: 624
Loc: Bailey, Colorado
I've hunted 53 for rifle. Archery season they're gonna be up high and there's some steep tough country in that unit. How long are you going for? I would suggest setting a main camp near a trailhead, if you find sign you can always set up a spike camp in the area. 4 miles in that territory is gonna be tough. You push it too hard at the start of the hunt you'll be screwed physically for the rest of the hunt. The weather is crazy, could be 80, may be snowing and that could be in the same day. Packing out an elk is tough work. With the weather, you'll need to get it in a cooler or to the processor pretty quick or it will spoil. I live up here so pm me if you have any questions.

#5638750 - 03/06/15 08:37 PM Re: First CO elk hunt advice??? [Re: longhorn3454]
Cohunter22-250 Offline

Registered: 10/28/09
Posts: 237
Loc: Western Colorado
I live in unit 53 in colorado and hunt across the road in 521. My advice would be hunt 6000 to 7000 feet late in the season. Lots of people hunt that area so have several areas to look at huntin. The terrain really isn't to bad. More or less don't get frustrated just put the hiking miles on.

#5639065 - 03/07/15 01:23 AM Re: First CO elk hunt advice??? [Re: longhorn3454]
dogcatcher Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 07/17/06
Posts: 86958
Loc: Abilene or on the road...
Start getting in shape now!!!
Combat Infantryman, the ultimate hunter where the prey shoots back.
_____________"Illegitimus non carborundum est"_______________


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