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elk in a weird spot
was coming back from climbing a popular 14er this weekend in a draw unit. theres a dirt access road that goes up to about 12,000' to access the trailhead, lots of people go up and do this particular 14er, so its well trafficked. coming down early sunday around 7am i see a CPW guy and laugh, thinking, no one hunts here with all this traffic, the elk are blown out. thirty seconds later i round a corner, look up an avy chute, and theres about 40 elk just hanging out, not a half mile from the road, if even that far. and about 500 vertical feet above me, maybe up to 750. two monster 6xs in the mix were just kinda pushing cows around and doing little locator bugles. no fighting yet, and the satellites were still in the mix. theyre getting ready, but it hasnt kicked off yet.
what was interesting is i would have never expected to see them here during the season. wide open, 7-8am, cars going by on the main road. i stopped and glassed them for an hour just for fun and to see how they behaved. not only was this a well trafficked area, but on the CPW hunting atlas (which yes, elk can be everywhere and this atlas is just an approximation) this area was not in either a summer or winter range. looked like a no mans land because of the 14er traffic. yet there they were, half mile from the road, plain sight, cars going by. just hanging out doing elk things. i dont have a tag for this unit but whatever, i love elk, even if its just watching them mill around and do their thing. made my day. and piqued my curiosity.
Several years ago we were hunting a similar situation. It was our last day and after a hard week of hunting we had come back to camp to eat before one more quick afternoon hunt. It was opening day of muzzy season. we were camped right off the road to the trailhead. Heard a bull bugle so close(on the other side of the road) that we were about to get up and go after him when all of a sudden a shot rang out. Guess a muzzy guy tagged out quick. We hadn't heard a bugle from camp all week. Tons of traffic up and down that road, and we did see elk above timberline on the mountain, not far from the trail. Planned to hunt it but never got up there due to getting into elk in another area. I guess the adage is true....the elk are where you find them.
should send me the gps coordinates to verify a weird spot....lol
There was a bull trolling around by the R/C airplane field at Chatfield Park yesterday...
That Chatfield herd is there all year round... I've seen them all over, one time he was in the open field where they launch the balloons.
here is a pic of a small bull (a cow, 2 whittail, and a flock of geese) a little ENE of the model airplane area..
They probably like it there because the hikers pay them no mind. They're not dumb!
Elk at Chatfield? Now I've heard everything! When did that happen ??
Chatfield... Been there as long as I can remember, and all year round, not just the winter.
Heck, I see Elk in even more urban area than Chatfield all summer long driving from my house to the archery range. You gotta know where to look, but they are there. Here is a pic of a pair of bulls that probably don't know what elevation above 6500ft is! And they are within a mile or two of a couple hundred thousand people!
I've been seeing the elk at Chatfield for at least 8 years, but I'm sure they've been there longer than that. I saw a bull inside the cloverleaf off ramp at C-470/285 once too, on the east side of 470, probably one of these guys^
Those bulls up above are in Highlands Ranch!
Man... I don't ever recall having any clue that they were there, but now, yeah, I guess I can see how they got there.... On the other hand, I do remember when we had a small herd o' speed goats that lived right where I've drawn the X
Those two look like a couple of Samsons just waiting to happen...
And, not to be left out, Here is a bad picture of some Bighorn Sheep headed up Green Mountain. This was back in June - a mountain biker took this picture and thought they were Mountain Goats! This is near the trailhead by 470 and 70 on the west side of the park.
I was just about to mention Green Mountain. I've seen elk there, including a nice bull this summer. I haven't seen bighorn sheep though, that's interesting.
What's that little canyon up Chatfield way? There were sheep in there 20-25 years ago... Lot o' litle trout, too...
GR - That's Waterton canyon and yeah Bighorns are still in there and lots of decent sized trout!
all great points, elk in very weird spots can be the norm in some places. my surprise was seeing elk in what i would call a more wild habitat - up above and out of the city, high elevation - so near a high traffic access road. my guess is they got pushed there by pressure elsewhere. the chatfield elk, evergreen elk, highlands ranch, etc - id imagine they have just gotten really used to no pressure, predators, and a sedentary, easy lifestyle.
Hockeydad, there is a big elk herd in Highlands Ranch! ...Or, right next to it at least. If you live there you can get a lottery tag to hunt elk on HR open space. I know a guy who got to do it.
Surf - Yeah, that is where that trail cam picture came from. And you have to be a Highlands Ranch Resident in order to enter the lottery.
Used to see a herd near Castle Pines, till they started all the building. I think that group has pushed NW along Sante Fe, towards the dump.
Last I saw on that HR hunt, they were near 100% success. I've got a buddy who has yet to draw that LO tag.
A couple weeks I also saw a small herd with two bulls south of the new construction in Castle Pines, south of the Safeway. They go where they please...
The "bachelor bulls" have been hanging NW of Titan & Sante Fe road for decades. 8-12 incredible bulls can often be seen near the Daniels cable dish farm. The 7x8 is awesome. The Cherokee ranch herd has somewhat scattered - Tweet left the land to be a "no-hunt" area "in perpetuity" , but the state found a way to circumvent that. For $15K, you can do a canned hunt there, with the right connections, or so I'm told. A nice herd is finding less & less territory to graze, but they are often seen west of I-25, between CP north & Happy Canyon. More often they are down on the east side of Sante Fe, on the old Cherokee Ranch. I've found elk droppings on the bluff behind my house - across I-25 & a bit SE of there. There is supposedly still a breeding pair of big cats on the Ranch. The elk have scattered up & down Plum Creek - as far south as Perry Park, and north to Chatfield.