Contributors to this thread:
OTC Colorado Archery Elk
Looking from someone willing to give me some info from this years elk numbers from SEP 2018 in unit 65. Making a trip, and from narrowing all the OTC units, I have decided to make a run to GMU 65. Looks like from most calculations: 1) Ratio is decent 1:5 2) Hunting pressure is up usually, but I will be able to hike deep 3) Looks like the area has good elk population, which most units do 4) Rugged terrain with a good variety of elevation changes (can change tactics if needed) 5) Looks like you can get away from roads
Im not looking for any detail on areas to check out (although that would be nice). Just wondering what you guys were seeing in this unit in 2018 so I can get an idea for 2019.
Oh boy, that post is asking for trouble on this site. :)
If you have 5000 elk and they winter on private ranches and disperse into 50,000 acres of woods during summer with a road every 1/2 to 1 mile, you have an average of one elk every 1000 acres.
If you have 5000 elk and they winter on private ranches and disperse into 500,000 acres of woods during summer with a road every 10 miles, you have an average of one elk every 10,000 acres.
Elk are herd animals and they summer, winter, and rut in just about the same places every year (those places can be the same location or different locations). You can go into a unit with great numbers/great ratios and hike in to the most distant place the unit has to offer and you might not have elk within a couple miles of you in any direction.
1) Good ratio - this is a good stat to look at and gives you good info about how hammered the herd is.
2) Hunter pressure - this is a good stat to take into consideration. The problem is, if you're a DIY public land hunter, high hunting pressure is most likely very bad. And unless you know how to use pressure to your advantage as it directly relates to elk, it's a net huge negative for your hunt as the redeeming quality of an elk hunt is the experience even if you don't kill something; the only thing that can ruin that experience is a bunch of people crawling up your ass. And if you don't know how to use pressure to your advantage, you're going to be one of the hoard. If you want to actually kill elk on OTC public land, DIY, you will either kill an elk on opening day or go hunt where the elk go when the hunters show up and the elk move to where they don't get killed. Most of the time, that's private land. Figuring out the public land spots that they go to requires more brains unless you go scout and find them. Doing that during your short hunt is a tall order.
3) Good elk population - this is a worthless stat. If 100% of the elk are on private land during archery season or archery season +1 day, then this is a horrible unit to hunt public land even if it's got the largest amount of elk in North America.
4) Rugged terrain - this is potentially good. Too many people look at rugged terrain though, and cant figure out how the elk use it. 14K feet usually has the most rugged terrain, but you won't find the elk there. They're in the rugged terrain that no one else is willing, but more often smart enough to enter.
5) getting away from roads - that's generally good because it gets you away from the 100 lbs overweight road hunting crew. But it doesn't get you away from what, I think Lou Phillippe first coined, as the "Sitka Army." I killed my best bull on public land this past year and it was 20 yards from a road, but also happened to be one of the best places in the unit to kill a bull. My partner killed a bull a couple hundred yards away later in the season, again, less than 100 yards from another road.
I have nothing to offer you on 65 or any other CO unit for that matter, but I wish you the best of luck on your hunt.
sounds like you have done your research, go and learn the unit. good luck.
Just another version of “not looking for anyone’s honey hole but....”
Forgot that unit I’d check out unit 122 for elk. Shorter drive too!
Go deep! Where’s cnelk?
Seriously though, going deep is so overrated. And if you’re alone, I don’t care who you are, 6+ miles with 100 pounds for 3 trips is not fun, and for many people NOT Possible!
Sounds like you thinking right but gotta get YOUR boots on the ground to really know...I like rugged terrain as a BARRIER from most hunters in my day I called it the Golden Wall...
JohnMC is super helpful. I think we will change our plans and go unit 122! Who’s with me!?
Pretty convinced it’s impossible to go deep enough in Colorado. I’ve had as many chances within a half mile from the road as I have several miles back.
Stay away from trails and people and you’ll get chances
And after posting this “idea”on a public forum, start over with a different unit and keep it to yourself. Units get messed up simply by posting online.
Unit 122 is 100% private land.
@quinn. I know. I was being sarcastic referring to the fella above being cute recommending 122.
Check out Thorton. Huge bulls in Thorton. 350 all day.
You see these questions every day on Facebook, guys wanting information on units, where they should hunt, which units are better. Spend your time on the phone talking to fish and game, the DOW officers are a wealth of information. Wanna know elk numbers, call the biologists in the area, call and talk to the forest service in the area. It's that simple.
Don`t over think it....pick a unit, do some research, get some maps, pick a trailhead and GO. You`re not going to get what you are looking for through others. The only place to find it is in the dirt.
It will be an experience of a lifetime. It takes years to figure out some units.
"2) Hunting pressure is up usually, but I will be able to hike deep"
Haha, yeah, but then you have to haul out an elk from "deep"
And the deeper you get, the more outfitters are dropping folks from the backs of horseback. No one is going to pay good money for long to get dropped where people can dayhike to. And the reputable drop camp outfitters are putting guys in places that traditionally hold elk. So by going deep, you're either going into elkless country, or outfitter country. It's a total crap shoot.
"...pick a unit, do some research, get some maps, pick a trailhead and GO"
The "GO" part of this advice is correct. "Trailheads" are where the hoard start. If you want to be part of the hoard, pick a trailhead and GO. Or you could back up 1/2-1 mile, turn 90 degrees left or right and go where no one else is going and blind dumb luck will give you better results than joining the hoard, go up the trail 1/2 mile and turn 90 degrees and have similar results, or follow the back country trails (the I-80s of the elk world) like the hoard and have minimal chances at cows and raghorns. Or skim the edges of where everyone else is going and have even better results.
I have given up everything I know about the draw units I have hunted to anyone who asks here. I have also had people here put me and my hunting group on lots of elk in couple different units. It's a two way street......I figure why hold back on a unit that I could not live long enough to hunt again. PM's are the only way to do it.
Agreed pm are the only way to go if you want to share.
See Idyll.....we knew we would get some of your advice out of you...lol Your advice is solid and we all had to learn the hard way....I know I did.
The elk will be where the hunters are not.
Lots of good advice above.
IdyllwildArcher - good post! However, the math is a bit off. :)
"If you have 5000 elk and they winter on private ranches and disperse into 50,000 acres of woods during summer with a road every 1/2 to 1 mile, you have an average of one elk every 1000 acres. Its 10 acres. If you have 5000 elk and they winter on private ranches and disperse into 500,000 acres of woods during summer with a road every 10 miles, you have an average of one elk every 10,000 acres. Its 100 acres.
Heck, its not even geometry! :) no harm intended...
Naught into Naught. Too much cipherin' for me.
As an out of state hunter who has had good success in CO OTC units my advice is to follow thru with your research and take a summer trip to your targeted area and do some scouting with some predetermined spots in mind to check on. I have a very understanding family and we go "trout fishing" for a week every summer. I do as much elk scoutng as fishing. And BTW both Wy and CO supply you with a fishing license when awarding a elk tag. Feel free to PM if you want to discuss OTC units
65 is a good OTC unit, there are not elk behind every tree but they are there! Best advice I have read so far is DO NOT walk in on a "trailhead"! Why you ask? Everyone walks in on a trailhead 1-3 miles then hunts a half mile off of it. You are much better off IMO to walk in at a random spot you have picked out and bushwack in a mile, then hunt instead of walking in at a trailhead like the other 100 guys in the area will probably do. Best of luck don't worry about all the negative Nancy's on here....
Oops on the math, still the point was that the bigger the wilderness, the more room the elk have to disperse and being a herd animal, this creates feast or famine.
Thanks for all the replies fellas. I am in no way going to act like I’m looking for specifics. Not in any way my intention. Ive hunted whitetail my whole life with good success on public land only. Always have, and always will do my own homework. Sorry if it seamed as if I was asking for a “handout”.
The "specifics" is the GMU number in the OP.
jbhunter, did you hunt elk this year? Please share your experience and perspective, but not the unit.
Yes Chasewild, thousands and thousands of acres is “specific”. I get ya.
Things changed quickly after my original post. I have been filming for a public land YouTube channel, and was filming elk hunts in Kentucky (My home state this year). Had another baby, and leaving the state just wasn’t an option for me this year. But I’ve already got the week slated for SEP 10-20, 2020. No UNIT specifics here. Ive actually had much more time to research and have found some GREAT opportunities. Headed out mid summer with the family for some hiking/camping/scouting.