My OTC option is OK but not great. I hunted it in 2019 and could have killed a small bull on my first morning but let him walk because the way I got to where I was at was too nasty to think about packing out a raghorn by myself. (Of course I discovered a main game trail down to the hiking trail later that day that if I had known about, I would have taken the shot). I was also there the third week and the elk had been mostly pushed to private so if I go back, I'm going to fight the crowds the first week and try to use what I learned in 19 to use the pressure of opening week to push elk by me as I noted a number of escape routes that had obviously been well used.
Anyway, its a decision I need to make soon for a number of reasons. I'm super excited to hunt 76 and scouting in the rut in a place like that would be super fun, but there's always an extra edge when I have a tag in my pocket and my bow in my hand.
Another factor is I'm not in as good of shape this year as I would like to be for either hunt. Been fighting, feet, knee and back issues this year which has certainly not helped. (Getting old sucks, guys so don't do it.)
My wife and I just got back from spending a few days in 76 so I know I have to be in the best shape of my life when I do draw the tag so training for next year started on our hikes last week.
So, what would you do? Scout for a great tag next year or hunt a difficult place this year? I am going back and forth.
I know you said you'd go "elsewhere" if you saw signs of hunters. But, what if that "elsewhere" is a spot a hunter hopes to hunt later that day? So, the hunter shows up for an evening hunt, and he's immediately disheartened to see your rig parked there, so he changes his evening hunting plans. Now, think about the snowball affect if every potential future tag holder decided to do the same thing you are doing. I saw that exact phenomenon in unit 10 last year, and it ruined several of my hunts.
No matter how unobtrusive you try to be, you will probably affect someone else's hunt, one way or another, especially if you are tromping thru the woods. Or worse, driving an ATV around the area. IMO, you should scout in the off-season only.
Yeah, I'm wrestling with that. I could also go October 1st which would likely still have them talking but also have a greater chance of snow and bad weather but I'm sure the bulls would still be very vocal and it would also give me a great idea where they go when pressured.
I’m sure you can find someone to help, and also find areas with nobody there.
It’s public land, there will be others recreating. Bring a fishing rod
Yeah I get that. I know for myself and most non-residents its a once in a lifetime hunt and I certainly wouldn't want to mess with anyone's hunt, and at the same time I want to make the most of my own. I'm leaning towards the OTC.
Now if someone with a 76 tag this year wanted a caller who had some spots to share (ones I found while there this week, not ones a couple guys here have shared with me) but wouldn't mind said caller took every other day off to go fish and recoup I might could be pursuaded. :)
Why not scout before and/or after season?
How much scouting information transfers from year to year?
One is the “me first” camp. They point to the fact that it’s public ground, and a scouter has the same right to be there as a tag holding hunter. I can’t argue with that.
The second camp believes the Golden Rule still applies, even to hunting.
I’ll take the second camp, always.
I'm not following your logic, Wyobull. The second camp treats people how they'd want to be treated. They recognize that any addition human presence in the woods during a hunting season potentially disrupts the hunters who are trying to fill tags. Since they wouldn't want a gaggle of scouters in the area during their hunt, they choose not to scout during someone else's hunt. It's called common courtesy.
The more you know about a unit, the better your hunt will be. If that knowledge is gained during hunting season, it is even better.
You’re being out there will not screw up someone’s hunt unless it is intentional. Not a lot of tags and there will be lots of others out and about recreating.
Who knows, you might meet up with someone and get to help them achieve their dream!
Big difference between 76 and 10. The elk are all over a big unit in 76 and very concentrated in a few areas of big units up in the NW corner like 10.
I want to hunt and I'm feeling better every day about the scouting I have already done. Will make another trip next summer and will make a number of calls to forest service, game wardens, others who hunt the unit, etc. I think I'll be in good shape for a fantastic hunt as long as I can get my knee pain under control enough to get in decent shape. (Yes, I know I want to be in the best shape of my life, but knees are a significant limiting factor.)
Now, I need to nail down a new boot as my Irish Setters gave me some significant issues last week.
In 2020, I fractured my pelvis (cycling accident) on August 20th...lost the hunting season (except for goose hunting) and ate a landowner voucher.
Hunt this year!
There are enough folks to help you out on areas to concentrate on in 76.
It's public land, which makes it a playground for everyone, not just hunters. You want anyone that isn't hunting to show common courtesy and stay out of the woods during hunting season so you can have this public land all to yourself. The OP says he'll stay away from hunters, but you're still concerned he might disturb elk in areas that someone might hunt later? You can put whatever spin you want on it by talking about the Golden Rule and common courtesy, but if what you want and expect others to do doesn't scream "Me First", I don't know what does.
As far as scouting out of season, that may or may not be productive. You can scout all summer long in my area and the only thing you'll find are cows, calves, and an occasional spike. The raghorns don't start showing up until the last week in August, and the bigger bulls normally start showing up the middle to end of the first week in September. As soon as the rifle banging starts in October, they disappear into their nasty hidey holes.
Look, I get it. I'd love to be able to turn back time to where I basically had the elk woods to myself. Unfortunately that ship has sailed and it ain't coming back to port. Now the woods, roads, and camping areas are crawling with other hunters, hikers, campers, atv's, motorcycles, dogs, etc, etc, etc.
Bottom line is, this is the world we now live in and it's getting worse every year. Nobody likes it any better than you. But to think your "right" to have others stay off public land during hunting season trumps their right to use it for whatever legal activity they choose is a bit hypocritical IMO.
For those who do not know elk this is my experience-
In my experience there is a huge movement in elk right in the middle of Archery Season. There are rutting areas that have no elk before Labor Day, then come Sept 15 are covered up in rutting bulls! Also hunting pressure- usually during muzzy season moves elk to more protected areas, private, etc. If you want to know where elk will be in the rut, you have to be there in the rut.
Pre-season scouting will only help for opening week, sitting water etc. Very rare to find a big bull at that time. It also has effects on other hunters......
Post-season scouting- Colorado has way to many rifle seasons- Early, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, Late!!! That's 6 season in some units so there really isn't any Post Season that will be beneficial to where elk will be in September, or "out of other hunters way"
Nonsense. I specifically said I can't argue with those who point to public land rights as their selfish reason to scout during an ongoing season. And I said nothing about wanting the woods to myself.
I just think there is a higher ground that we as hunters can tread on in order to respect the other hunters who have waited over 2 decades to hunt the same areas we dream of hunting some day.
As a native of Colorado, I've had ample opportunity to scout the "trophy unit" that I've dreamed of hunting all my life. I resisted scouting during the archery season out of respect for those with the same dream and patience. When I finally drew the tag, I spent the summer getting in shape, and scouted the unit for a total of 30 days before any hunting seasons. The elk didn't suddenly move to different areas once the season started. They were there, but they were much less visible and more cautious during hunting hours. I attribute that directly to the increased human pressure they were under. There were more scouters in the woods than hunters, so I attribute the elk's change in behavior more to scouting pressure than hunting pressure.
You can throw your hands up in the air and say "times have changed" all you want, but I refuse to believe that common courtesy doesn't ultimately get rewarded.
Darrell do what makes YOU happy and what YOU feel is the best use of your time. As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages to both scenarios hence you posting asking for people's opinions. Good luck!
I'd go hunt when you can.
I am bowhunting elk in 76 this year and have these comments...
Soon you will burn an absurd amount of nonres pref points for elk there. Go Scout! Enjoy every bit of the advance planning process you can cuz this my be your last really good limited colo elk tag.
And when you blow out some big bull I am chasing , just remind me I said it was cool. LOL.
Don’t listen to guys saying you will ruin guys hunts. They can always go deeper if needed to find more elk. And if you can call worth a darn, you can be in my grip and grin, LOL.
Had the tag as a reissue in 2017&2018. Each snagged out of thin air 2 and 3 days before season started which meant zero scouting, just pack N go. Not 2 hours after meeting OTCWill at 4 am on side of road, we had a beautiful bull screaming at me from 26 yards, then that evening he had a bull coming right by me at 40 yards following the cows he called right by me, then a day later when we went ‘deep’ he stopped a big bull broadside at 34 yards with me at full draw. Point? Serious elk hunters who do not know each other can put together some cool azz elk encounters in short order in a good unit and I had a much more fun hunt that year and gained a new great friend for life since we both said ‘sure why not join up for a few days of elk chasin’.
I was blessed to have the tag as a freebie at the last minute twice on reissue and even so, now having all summer to scout and plan, I am loving the opportunity to invest time to prep, to be followed by up to 3 weeks of hunting, to fill two tags in camp for me and my nonres brother. Think about the res/nonres points to draw, we are very fortunate to both be able to draw at same time. Had I not picked up reissues, I would have had no qualms scouting in Sept if I had time or helping someone who drew so i could put some time in the unit for our 2021 hunt we had been scheming for years in advance.
And yeah, some self discipline to not be trying to call in elk would be the decent thing to shoot for. Or partner up with a tag holder as your ‘scouting’ trip.
I'm not against in season scouting. Should be low impact though. Don't call in bulls and no "ruckus creating". Not sure what that even is.