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Messages - Elk Noob

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Hunting Gear / Re: Good elk hunting frame packs
« on: June 08, 2020, 09:19:56 AM »
My newer stone glacier on an Xcurve is the most comfortable pack I've ever worn.

General Elk Hunting / Re: Check your Credit Cards - Colorado
« on: June 03, 2020, 01:07:55 PM »
Drew my 1st choice deer tag. Now just waiting to see if I drew my cow tag.

Going OTC for my archery tag here in CO.

Hunt Planner / Re: CO OTC Archery HELP!
« on: June 01, 2020, 09:06:27 AM »
I havent hunted any of those areas, but my advise would be to pick a unit and stick with it. You listed six units you have hunted over seven years. All of them have elk in them. You just need to find where the elk are. If you commit to an area, youll eventually learn it like the back of your hand and know where the elk are.

This, very much this... I used to hunt 45 quite a bit, but since they've gone away from fully OTC tags I haven't been back in there. There are elk, but the numbers have decreased a ton over the last few years. I'm also 0/6 on my archery hunts, but can usually get into elk every year and have multiple opportunities if I don't mess up.

Stay with it, and it'll happen. Find food/water/shelter and there will be animals.

Hunt Planner / Re: Heading to CO - Question Public vs. Private Land
« on: April 17, 2020, 10:27:31 AM »
Also did not know that ONX has an offroad app for an additional charge.
I know here in the East people put up signs trying to keeping folks out even though the lands are public. That is where Onx comes in. Thanks

Yup, same happens in CO. Onx has helped a bunch, but sometimes it doesn't really matter to the LO and it becomes a huge hassle.

I believe that you are correct on your question, roads named CO ### are usually a county road.

Hunt Planner / Re: Heading to CO - Question Public vs. Private Land
« on: April 16, 2020, 11:30:59 AM »
The short and complicated answer is yes and no. It completely depends on the private land. Some landowners have given permission to use their land as an access point and others haven't.

I have ran into both types of private owners in the past, the ones that yell at you even when you're on public, and the ones that will let you use their access any time.

Hunt Planner / Re: Colorado 2020 archery hunt
« on: March 25, 2020, 09:40:03 AM »
Cool, I was only asking because I've been bow hunting for elk for 6 years now and still haven't notched a tag. Every year I've had at least 1 good opportunity but I've made some mistake on setup etc. I hunt solo so I've made a lot of mistakes and have learned a ton.

If the goal is to have a good time and enjoy being outside with the chance to see an elk, any of those will be good. Find some basins on OnX, find food, water, shelter and you will run into elk at some point. Have multiple options and don't commit to one area, be mobile if you aren't seeing them or seeing sign. That has been the biggest thing I've learned, don't backpack into a spot that takes a full day to get to because then you're stuck if the elk aren't there.

Hunt Planner / Re: Colorado 2020 archery hunt
« on: March 24, 2020, 08:06:06 PM »
What was awful about the experience with the outfitter?

Also, what's your background, age, shape, hunting experience etc? I don't know anything about any of those units but 211. Short answer is you can find elk almost anywhere, but without knowing a bit more about yourself you could be setting yourself up for disappointment again.

Hunting Gear / Re: Best Frame to Just Haul Meat?
« on: February 17, 2020, 11:27:55 AM »
So I still like my Badlands 2200, but did just get a Stone Glacier Xcurve frame and man is that thing nice. Pricey, but I have never put on a pack that carried the weight better than the Xcurve frame did for me. 

Hunt Planner / Re: Colorado Elk Unit 42
« on: February 05, 2020, 01:25:44 PM »
Depends on what you're looking for out of the hunt.

Are you looking for a good experience with your dad/brothers, but may not have many shot opportunities?


Are you looking for the best chance at tagging out?

If you're looking to tag out I'd probably sell this as it doesn't sound like you'll get what you're after. If you're looking for a good time with the possibility of getting on some elk I'd keep it. 2nd or 3rd season are OTC and your best option for getting 4 bull tags.

Other Big Game Hunting / Re: Opening Morning 3rd rifle Season
« on: November 06, 2019, 02:22:36 PM »
Nice job, I was out this past weekend and Sat was brutally cold haha. Didn't punch my tag yet, but had plenty of chances. Holding out a bit longer.

Classifieds / Outdoorsmans Optics Hunter Pack
« on: November 06, 2019, 09:59:47 AM »
I've got a used Outdoorsmans Optics hunter pack. I have the additional pocket that can clip onto the pack as well as a rain fly and a nalgene pouch for the belt.

I believe that the belt is a Medium, I am 6'3" and wear a 36" size pants and the belt is very snug on me so someone with a slightly smaller waist would fit this great.

This is a bomber pack, built in the US. Retail for everything is approaching $700. I'd like to get $300 OBO. I'll post up pictures when I get home from work tonight.

General Elk Hunting / Re: Colorado Elk Bugle/Rut Report
« on: October 16, 2019, 11:45:06 AM »
I was glassing for some friends in a LE unit in CO and we had bugling during the weekend. Saw a lot of elk, Bulls are still with Cows, and I even saw a bull mount a cow.

Seems like there are still some hot cows out there.

Hunting Gear / Re: Best Frame to Just Haul Meat?
« on: October 09, 2019, 10:31:53 AM »
I have a badlands 2200 pack and I hate it...Ill sell it to ya cheap, maybe it will work better for you...that Exo frame by itself is amazing for hauling meat...I have the Exo 3500 pack its better than anything Ive ever used...buy that pack and then you have a better day pack than that POS Badlands pack and a better pack frame than most of those rigid frames.

What do you not like about the 2200? Imo it's one of the best day packs you can get that also has a meat shelf. I've hauled out quite a few animals with it and it carries the weight very well.

For my bigger hunts I use my outdoorsmans pack.


Hiking with a Bow, Elk Hunt in the Making

Back in 2010 was the first time I had gone west for a hunt, I grew up in the midwest hunting whitetail from a tree stand. I was fortunate to have the opportunity at getting an elk and sealed the deal on the last day of the hunt. After that rifle hunt I was absolutely hooked to western hunting and knew I'd be moving to CO to chase Elk with a bow.

In the summer of 2013 I finally made the move. I was too green to hunt Elk that first season, and was still a non resident. I had a rifle hunt that year that I had paid for prior to moving. I had a great time, but unfortunately didn't fill my tag.

In the winter of 2014 I tore my ACL on March 1st. I had surgery April 7th with the hope that I'd be able to get into the woods to chase elk for my first time. That first year I had a lot of firsts; I heard my first bugles in the woods, camped solo for multiple nights, and hiked more miles and elevation than I had thought possible. It was a great first year and I learned a lot even though I never even had a chance at a shot.

During the summer of 2015 I did a ton of scouting and was ready for the hunt. I had possibly the best opening morning you could ever ask for, until it wasn't. I had 2 different bulls at 30yards or less within the first 15minutes of shooting light. I drew on the first bull multiple times but never had a good shot, and managed to get a shot on the 2nd bull. Unfortunately the shot was low, and I never recovered the animal. That was a brutal opener. I spent the rest of the season searching for that bull while having a deer tag in my pocket.

During the 2016-2018 seasons I got into elk multiple times with multiple different scenarios. Every time doing something incorrectly to either bust the animal out, or ruin my opportunity at a shot.

At this point I'm 0/5 with a bow, and am determined to get an elk in 2019.  I start my training early and begin walking my dog with a weighted pack shortly after the 2018 seasons have ended. I was doing well with my training, scouting and planning. My pack began getting heavier and heavier and the mileage I was able to put in kept going up, eventually getting to packing 80lbs 5miles with 2k elevation gain and also mountain biking frequently. I was also getting faster on the mountain bike because of this training and eventually decided to enter a race. This is where my training goes south.

In late May while training for my race in June I was pushing it and was riding the fastest I've ever ridden. I made a mistake in a high consequence area and ended up with 5 broken bones in my foot. Needless to say that 3 miles back to the car was not fun.

Eight weeks non weight bearing on my foot, and another month in a boot and I was cleared to start activity again. At this point I only had a month to get back some of the endurance I had previously built up before the Elk season started. I did whatever I could to build up my strength, but still had my doubts about my abilities for the year.

The week before the season started a buddy of mine asked if I'd scout an area we are planning on hunting 3rd season mule deer. I said I'd be slow, but this would be a good test to see how the foot is doing. We hiked 10 miles and just under 2k elevation. The foot felt good, but it was definitely fatigued. I talked to my buddy and we decided to come back to this spot for opener.

During the week we both spend hours on google earth and OnX finding the best places to go and places to avoid. We decide to get to a glassing spot first thing in the morning to see what the area looks like and hopefully spot some elk. I am very glad we got to this spot because we ended up ruling out an area very quickly. The area we had hoped to access was littered with fireflies on the ridge, headlamps from hunters, going into "our" spot.

Not being too discouraged, as it was just opener we decided to let out a bugle. To our amazement we had a bull sound off about 300yards away. The wind wasn't cooperating at this time so we decided to see if we could get into a spot to make a move later on. At about 10am we heard another Bugle as the bull was heading to his bed. We waited till the wind was in our favor and decided to sneak in, unfortunately we took the wrong finger ridge and never found the bull. Later on in the weekend we took the correct ridge and found where he had previously been, unfortunately we never caught up to him the rest of the weekend.

Since we weren't seeing a ton of fresh sign, and the only bull we had heard to that point was gone we decided to get up very early Monday morning and bugle from multiple different locations. It was very quiet and we weren't getting any responses. Slightly discouraged and tired from the weekend we decided to start making our way down the mountain and back towards home. As we are driving down we decide to pull of and do a few road bulges. To our amazement, we get a response 200 yards from the road, it's about 20min before first light at this point and we quickly scramble together to get our stuff on. As we're getting our gear together we can hear twigs snapping no more than 200 yards away. My buddy lets out a bugle and we get an instant response. Then the cows start talking, mew's galore. This is it, we're on them and we're getting responses.

We look at OnX as we are not familiar with this location and end up heartbroken. There is a fairly big meadow in front of us and the elk are moving to private and we have no way to stop them at this point. Not wanting to call too much and push the elk even further we watch as they disappear into the un-pressured magical private land. The Elk just know where those boundaries are and these ones didn't ever come back.

The following weekend I head back to the same area in hopes of locating these elk we saw near the private. It had rained the prior night and the ground was very soft which made looking for sign very nice. Unfortunately I didn't see anything, and I didn't see any elk the rest of that weekend.

The next weekend I went with a different unit with another friend. We put in a lot of miles and covered a ton of ground, but never saw an elk. We did see some fresher sign and I had a general idea of where I would like to hunt the following week.

The 3rd weekend of the season I took off Thursday and Friday because I wasn't going to be able to hunt the weekend. I'm glad I did because this was the best weekend I had all season. I went back to the area I had been in the week prior only I came in from a different side and decided to get off trail immediately from the car. After hiking 2 miles and just over 2k elevation I was on the top of a ridge at 10am listening for bugles. Not more than 10 minutes goes by and I hear a chuckle. I get a rough idea of where he is and decide that he's about 1/2 mile away around the ridge so I might as well go for it.

I start making my way through the woods around the horseshoe and hear another bugle. This is coming from up higher on the ridge. I keep making my way along, eventually the bulls go silent. I let out a bugle hoping for a response, nothing. Not letting that get to me I decide to cow call. Instantly I get a response from one of the bulls, then the other. My heart starts racing again and the chase is on. I continue along the horseshoe and eventually decide to go for the bull that is lower, his bugle sounded more mature, and he was responding to every cow call I was making. I slowly make my way down towards the bull as he continues to respond to my cow calls. Eventually I get to what I think is within 200yards and he goes silent. I cow call, nothing. I wait. 15 minutes, nothing. I cow call again, nothing. What happened? Did I bust him out? The wind was perfect the entire time. What do I do now?

I decided to wait it out in hopes that he becomes vocal again before the evening. One hour passes and I haven't heard anything from this bull. The bull on top of the ridge did make a few sounds while I was waiting so I decided to start moving back up again in case I had blown out the lower bull. As I get on the ridge and start moving to where I thought that bull was the sky begins to darken. Black and Grey clouds start booming in and I am quickly starting to think I've made a mistake. At this point I'm about 4 miles and a very steep 2k' from the car. I decide to put my bow on my pack and make my way down.

As I'm heading down the bulls begin to bugle again, at this point it's 4:30 and the lower bull is screaming. I rip my bow from my pack and make my way towards the bull moving slowly and not calling at all. I wasn't going to alert this bull that I was coming. I get to what I thought was about 150 yards away and then look up, there's a cow at 40 yards. I hadn't noticed the cow because I was paying too much attention where to place my foot when walking. My foot is mostly healed at this point, but if I stepped incorrectly I'd get a sharp pain. The cow looks up but isn't afraid. I let out a soft cow mew and she puts her head down and starts walking away. Instantly the bull screams, HE'S 35 YARDS FROM ME, my heart is racing. He's in a thicker set of pine and I have no shot. I looked around and tried to see if I had any shooting lanes, nothing. I had to move or get him to come to me. I try a naisly mew, he screams and starts thrashing a tree, but still doesn't come towards me. Eventually I decide to move in slowly, as I'm walking in I hear a rustle above me and then more noise, damn.. A cow. She busts me and starts moving, not fast, but cautiously. I cow call and slow her down, the bull hasn't left yet, but is watching his cows. I try the naisly call again but he doesn't budge and eventually he goes off after his cows and the last thing I hear is a bugle saying "better luck next time" as he heads over the far ridge.

I'm discouraged, but extremely exited by what has just happened. As a mostly solo hunter I have made a lot of mistakes, but I felt I worked this one pretty well and got my chance. I did make some mistakes, but overall I felt good about this interaction. The sky does eventually open up and buckets of water are released. I'm soaked and make my long way down back to the truck. On my way back to the truck I did manage to get close to a couple cows (less than 400yards from the truck), but didn't get a shot before they dropped off the ridge. That was it for the rest of that week. I didn't hear another bugle for the rest of the season, and didn't see another elk.

I'm now 0/6 on archery elk hunts, but have learned an incredible amount throughout my time in the woods. I was determined to get an elk this year, but unfortunately that didn't happen. Many might say that this season was a failure because of that, but less than 1 month before the season started I didn't think I was even going to be able to archery hunt this year. As a mostly weekend warrior I put in 12 days this year. I learned a lot, and had my chance at a "monster" bull, at least for me. Tag soup never tastes good, but at this point I've become slightly accustomed to it during the archery season. I'll be back next year, and every year I'm able for as long as I can. I'm an addict, Elk hunting is in my blood now, and I am addicted for life.

I'm just hiking with a bow, but all of these lessons I've learned are getting me ready for an elk hunt in the making.

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