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Heading West for Elk 2018
I am making my 4th trip to the western frontier in search of elk. The first trip (to CO) was a bit over my head. Two of us backpacked into the CO wilderness for 8 days without a kill. Mind you I've never spent one night out of a backpack to this point. Despite being one of the most physically challenging adventures I've ever had, we saw bear, elk, mule deer, beaver, trout, terrifying thunderstorms and unbelievable scenery. I was hooked.
For 2018, I chose to hook up with a great outfitter I used previously on two successful trips. (I couldn't close the deal). I had partner, but this year running solo from Ohio. My guided hunt is the last week of September. I am trying to decide to solo hunt the week before or the week after my guided hunt. The goal is hunt the same general area, lots of square miles, but go to know the area.
Prehunt/ Scout ahead of my guide trip? Go solo if unsuccessful post trip.
Hoping some of you western experts could share some advice.
I think I’d prefer to hunt the 3rd week as opposed to after your guided hunt. That said if you plan to hunt after your guided hunt and kill you could go home and save some vacation. If you are going to use the extra week even if you kill id go 3rd week.
If your guided hunt is the last week of September I would recommend you hunt before your guided hunt as the season closes end of September. Just my two cents.
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I thinking the same thing about the 3rd week. With a full moon on the 24th would that booger things up?
What do you do if you kill before your guided hunt begins?
Last day of season is 9/23
Third week of the season, which is the second week of September. The 4 week season cycles early this year.
Either that or do exactly as Nathan Drake suggested - listen for homework writing services in every canyon, then circulate like a criminal with young Jessica!
I should have mentioned that my 2018 guide hunt is in MT. That said, I could hunt CO first or spend two weeks in MT. Yes going home early is an option and not bad one considering the 30hr drive. I usually pull 20' box trailer, but might just try to get it done out of the truck. The downside is if I do drop an animal, packing home (without a freezer or super cooler) could be a challenge. I know that seems trivial, but I care as much or more about the return trip and safety of the meat as the hunt itself.
Any long haul guys out run into this?
Coolers full of ice with the drain open. Should be no problem. I iced quarters of a cow down in the back of a JD gator and drove 12 hours home from NM at night. Granted it was November but nighttime temps were mostly in the 50’s. Added 2 bags of ice half way. Very little melt. There’s no reason you can’t get it home in ice chests, even 3-4 days won’t hurt it any.
I've done 30 hours with two 120qt Rubbermaid coolers, you'll be fine.
I think if I was going on a guided hunt I'd try to learn from the guy then use that education the following week.
No reason to pull a 20' trailer for a solo hunt. You should be able to get everything you need in a pickup. If not you're bringing too much and that's coming from a guy who always brings too much. Bring a couple 100 quart coolers, bone out the meat and buy ice as needed on the drive home. Or buy coolers out there at a Walmart after you kill a bull. The gas savings from not pulling the trailer will help pay for coolers and other expenses.
No reason to pull a 20' trailer for ANY hunt. Question....if you hunt prior to the paid outfitter hunt will it help or hurt you physically. If you score will humping the meat and the hike wear you down and leave you weak for your guided hunt? Personally I would focus on the guided PAID for hunt....then go do what you want from there. Hunting prior sounds like it may complicate things for you. Don`t let a "moon phase" guide you in this decision. It`a variable....but a minor one.
I’m with Dirk.... hunt for a week or better yet 10 days before your outfitted hunt. That way you’ll be acclimated and ready to get ghe most for your money. Take 2 days off between hunts.
You guys make some great points and even mentioned things I already thought of. Glad to see I'm not alone in my research and ideas. There is always opportunity to chase bear, muley and whitetail after the elk hunt. It took a buddy and I 4 days to figure it out and get it done in 2016. (That was after we each spent a 6 days with a guide) The general 10 day rule of thumb held true..
Cheesehead Mike, that was too funny.... and yes, you're right.
As for the trailer, that is a DIY hunt camp thing for me and a partner or two. Hard to find replacements these days. It will stay home this season. More energy after driving by not dragging it. FYI- Looking for a new elk hunting partner.
Current plan: Head out 3-4 days early. Take my time getting there. If I show up early, do some scouting. Use the guide and hunt hard 4th week for elk. Successful- hunt other. Not Successful, hunt 2-3 more days out of the truck solo.
Any one have opinions on unit 161 &14. Going on foot this time or could bring UTV but do not want to drag around if cant be ridden. Have been to unit 14(10yrs ago) which I know utv's can only be rode on south side of buffalo pass ( or west side). Just want to get back in deep away from the crowds.
HTNFSH - I pull a 23' travel trailer from Pittsburgh, 10MPGs for 1600 miles...For the long haul meat care I have done dry ice in any cooler and it works just fine. I usually stop about half way and get another 10 or so lbs of dry ice. I always take the meat to a butcher to flash freeze before the drive back. By the time I get home its still frozen solid.
I bought a used small chest freezer. Had a 2kw generator to power it up. Left the generator run while driving. It took me two days to return home with a moose. No problem it worked great.
Chest freezers are cheap. Buy one out there if you need it.
No room for a chest freezer in my truck. Half-ton crew cab with a 5.9 box and a cap. Great idea though.
goatman, go online and check the MVUM map for Routt National Forest. They change OHV road status yearly, especially after the big fire up there. But a word of advice - in those units you'll often find more people the further "way back deep" you go. The Sitka Warriors and Kuiu Army hold joint military exercises in that area during September.
Look, it is Montana, the season is 6 weeks long. Be there for the opener, take Young Jessica, and you either won't leave until the end of season or you won't hunt at all.
You guys are killing me with Young Jessica. Last time I was in MT, I didn't want to leave. Not a lot of Jessica's around though.