I just returned from the Sangre De Cristo wilderness area in unit 82. Very tough hunting for DIY due to needing to get in about 8 miles and up to 11,500' to find much elk activity. We covered over 35 miles on foot in 5 days and went above 12,000' twice.
I would like to start a discussion from some of you who have hunted the state longer as to what the best OTC areas are. Also, good spike camp outfitters to help an old man get back to the elk so I can expend my energy hunting and not getting in.
Thanks for any input.
There is a tremendous amount of information available on the Web. In addition to very specific info on every Colorado GMU, you can find solid info on how to map scout - using maps that show the summer elk concentrations & migration routes, how to read sign, how and when to call elk, etc, etc, etc. The fact is you have roughly a year until the next bow season to get the info you need to plan..
For instance, if by best, you mean the OTC GMU with the best success rates - that info is public- you can get it for free from the CDOW and there is at least one pay site ($10 a year) where you can get it nicely summarized - along with other pertinent info.
For instance, GMU 82, over the years 2002 through 2007, had an annual harvest of 19 elk taken with an average of 180 hunters in GMU 82 - for an average success rate of 10%. The estimated elk population (Sand Dunes herd) in GMU 82 (over those 5 years) is 5640 with a 41% bull to cow ratio.
From 2002 to 2007 the number of OTC bow hunters in GMU 82 has risen from 150 to 276 - while the success rate has been as low as 2% in 2003 (when there were 180 hunters) to as high as 19% in 2005 (when there were 197 hunters).
By way of contrast, the most productive GMU (based on the stats) had a 5 year average success rate of 28% and an average of 178 hunters.
Thanks, this was the type info I hoped could be generated by this site. I'll start my research and homework. It's good to just have a direction to start.
By the way, this image has been downsized dramatically - the orignal by 7.7Mybtes and, if printed, would be 2 x 3 feet. Obviously, the original provides considerably more detail than this tiny image.
Some areas had too much pressure (for my liking), some were too steep for me to hunt, but the unit I hunt now is just right. ;)
I think the best OTC unit is the one where the terrain and access suits your style. The best one is also the one you spend the most time in to learn as much as possible. Just yesterday I changed plans last minute because some fishermen backpacked through an area I intended to hunt. I moved south over the next ridge and 2 narrow boulder fields. I wish I could thank those guys because we had some fun over the next 2 hours following a really fired up herd bull and getting within 60 yards of a too cautious satellite. While I didn't connect, I think one can have experiences like this in most any unit. This happened barely 2 miles from a very busy road over terrain most CO hunters would consider pretty easy.
I am gaining points, and am too far in to quit now, but after I burn those points I plan to choose a unit I can draw most years with no points. Everything I hear points to a quality hunt going that route.
Last thing, I've pimped this book many times on this site- "Big Game Hunter's Guide to Colorado", by John Axelson. I've had this book for several years and still go through it to look for info. I'd like to meet the author to personally thank him, extremely helpful to me.
I agree also...there is no possible way I would even hint at the OTC unit I am currently using or even the top 3 on my list. gotta have some kind of fall back.