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Flat Tops / GMU 33 advice?
I just confirmed we were drawn for GMU 33 and now can really get down to business long distance scouting for my first ever Elk hunt. Myself and 1 friend will be bivy hunting and want to get away from the crowd. Any words of wisdom on GMU 33?
lot of people hunt this unit, if your bivy hunting just make sure you look at maps b/c the roads run all over on the flat tops that you may end up close to the road when hunting away from another. plan on seeing a ton of people. sorry to be a bear of bad news but i live in that unit and i dont hunt it for that reason. good luck on your hunt there is a lot of animals if you know where to look but in the same token you need to beat the crowd.
Thanks Muley, that's exactly what I was looking for. It's supposed to share the southern part of GMU 23 & 24 as well on this tag, is any of it less crowded? I guess we can count this up to a stupid rookie mistake. Live and learn.
there is a lot of area for everyone but if you find a good area that holds elk, more than likely someone else has too. do a lot of map research that way if you get to an area you thought may be good you can have more options if there is others. dont focus on one certain area unless you have been to an area there before that you know isnt over ran. have a plan B & C just in case. being in good health and shape can make or break this hunt for ya, being in shape can help you get out in front of others that are afraid to get away from camp. good luck
Thanks again, I really appreciate the help. In your experience is there any week of the season that is better as far as either fewer hunters or better animal activity?
I have hunted 33 a handfull of times in the 90's when I was living in glenwood and as others have said unit 33 gets pressure - so be ready to run into other hunters/outfitters almost anywhere you go. There are a bunch of roads in 33 and only a few places to get away from the roads and the 4 wheeler crowd..
The rifle/silt locals know where the largest heards of elk hang out and hit these area's hard so as said have a plan B and C ready for when you show up to a trailhead and see that there are already 3 camps there... Also try to avoid the sheep as each "flock" comes with 3-4 barking dogs..
Me and a bunch of friends hunt 33 on a leftover cow tags in the rifle season's every year and most of us are able to get a cow about every year. I would like to hunt 33 again for archery but find that sometimes the low draw units like 33 get more pressure than just huntin OTC.
Good luck and the flat tops is awsome country so you should have a great time. Also bring the fishin pole caus every stream up there seems to hold trout! Just be ready to run into other hunters.
I never had any trouble with roads or hunting pressure. The descriptions of roads all over the place sure doesn't sound like the Flattops that I'm familiar with. Just get into the wilderness area and you will be miles and miles from the nearest road. Look at the area to the west of Trappers Lake.
I hunted the Flattops 3 different years and each hunt was very good. I wouldn't call it a mistake.
I hunted 33 one time. That was enough. Hunters everywhere, even worse in the muzzleloader season which falls in the middle of bow season. Didn't matter where I went,there were boot prints. Wish there was better news. The DOW refers to 33 as a limited entry area. They need to decrease the numbers to make it a quality experience. But that will never happen, cause they rely on license fees for revenue. Just got to get lucky I guess.
Again, I disagree. The campgrounds were full of disgruntled hunters expecting elk behind every rock, but pack in 3 miles or more into the wilderness and you will get away from 90% of the pressure. Get in 6 miles and you will have solitude.
We saw a few people on the pack trails, but that was about it.
Here's a bull I killed there during the second week of my first elk hunt, which was also during muzzleloader season.
I missed a bull the day before I killed this one and I had multiple close encounters all 3 years I hunted there.
I drew this tag as well. This will be my first time, but my brother-in-law has been there for three years. He hasn't had any trouble getting in to elk or staying away from hunters. It all boils down to the majority of the hunters won't go far from the truck. If you venture out the crowd gets smaller! I plan on bivying out pretty far back and hunting out from there.
Yeah but Mike, you could kill a bull in central Florida......
No doubt... Mike kills them everywhere he goes
My advise is hunt the higher elevations up around timberline.
Mike have you hunted the unit he is asking about? I don't know it that well but I don't think there is any "wilderness" in unit 33.
kadbow, the 33 archery tag also includes parts of 23 and 24. I believe I was in 24. So actually, I never have hunted in 33. Sorry if I misled anybody.
In the title of this thread he is looking for advice on the Flat Tops and I was referring to those parts you can hunt with the Unit 33 tag.
Stiff Arm, I would suggest that you look at those portions of 23 and 24 that are included with the 33 tag. The scenery is beautiful and bring your fishing gear, those streams and mountain lakes are full of trout.
Thanks Mike, I definately like your take on it and pics better than what I was starting to fear. The deep areas of 23&24 is where I'll be, hopefully eating trout after I tag out!
You're welcome Mike.
Put in a strong effort and you'll have a great experience.
Nothing wrong with a little midday fishing break either.
Mike do you have any other photos of the area?
Easy Mike. That is the spot I hunt also. Don't give away too many secrets as I drew that unit again this year. Ha ha.
I hear ya Zeke. I won't give any specific details...
Hey Mike! Those pics look VERY familiar......I know I will be back there in 2011. Best hunt I've had to date. We did just like you said and it worked out....just like you said. Just takes a little extra effort!
I got a nice 5x5 in unit-33 a few years ago. Mike is right, get away from the easy places to hunt and you will get away from the crowds. It is a beautiful place to be hunting.
Stay away from the marked horse trails that will get sight seeing traffic and fishermen as long as the weather is mild. Some outfitters have camps south of Trappers Lake and all around Shingle Peak with lots of hunters. Dont hunt the big parks, lots of hunters around the edges.
You all have given great advice. Be safe & know you limits.
Awesome. I am pumped already. If I can just get into some and hear them calling in scenery like that it will be great!
I am heading out to this unit (33) first I’m going to come from Wisconsin, would love to talk to somebody who’s been out there. I’ve got a couple Spots picked out already and was hoping someone could take a look at my map and let me know if I’m on the right Track!
If Mike would've zoomed in a bit you'd be able to see there's a guy either from Minnesota or Wisconsin behind every other tree...or worse, SHEEP!
We went "way back in", and finally gave up on that unit. Too many hunters, but you might get lucky and find a hidey hole all to yourself. I will agree it's beautiful country even if the elk are molested more than I cared for.
I can handle a couple more Wisconsin guys, but Minnesota??? No one warned me about that!!! Ha ha
I pm'd you and never got a response stilpr. Hope you had a good trip, apparently you didn't need advice on the area.
Spent 10 days hunting 33, second year in a row, I will not return again. NO ELK.
Well one of my co-workers bought a 33 tag off of the leftover list and went there the last week of season for his first ever elk hunt. I shared my maps and waypoints from 14-20 years ago and he was into elk on a regular basis. The trailheads and campgrounds were crowded but he followed my advice and didn't see a single hunter once he got off of the beaten path. He didn't kill one but he had a lot of encounters and close calls. Not bad for a first elk hunt and only having week to hunt...
I'm not sure what some of you guys are doing...
10 days and no elk sightings that's pretty brutal!
Years ago 80's - 90's, I hunted the Flattops for about 10 years, even back then elk were spotty... Would luv to go back since the fires though...
What unit that you can draw with 0-1 points isn't "spotty"?
Well, now im sure a few additional hunters will be there next year too. lol
Cheesehead Mike - Back when I hunted there it was OTC...8^)
I hunted the west side, but think a couple of the GMUs on the east side of the Flattops are still OTC, or at least they were a couple years ago...
KHNC, Unit 33 is a draw unit and they only issue a certain number of tags, so there won't be any additional hunters...
Zbone, how many OTC units aren't "spotty"...? ;^)
Yes there are still some units around the Flattops that are OTC.
How many sheep did you see (smell)??
In the portions I hunted I never heard, saw or smelled any sheep. My buddy that just got back didn't either...
Sorry, Mike, that question was for the guy that went 10 days without seeing an elk.