1st time DIY Elk Hunt, Colorado 3rd Rifle Question

Tabsgm

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Oct 29, 2020
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Hey all

I am a newbie here, just joined today. Driving out to hunt in Zirkle Wilderness for 3rd rifle OTC. I think I have a pretty decent grasp on how to proceed, but was wondering if anyone has advice or pointers? I was supposed to be hunting with a buddy that lives in Denver, but he was literally transferred to the East Coast just this week, so I will be figuring it out on my own with my brother in law. I have been out west before but mainly for fishing no real back country hunting. Any input is appreciated.
 

ddavis_1313

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Oct 25, 2012
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477
Hey all

I am a newbie here, just joined today. Driving out to hunt in Zirkle Wilderness for 3rd rifle OTC. I think I have a pretty decent grasp on how to proceed, but was wondering if anyone has advice or pointers? I was supposed to be hunting with a buddy that lives in Denver, but he was literally transferred to the East Coast just this week, so I will be figuring it out on my own with my brother in law. I have been out west before but mainly for fishing no real back country hunting. Any input is appreciated.

Glass, glass, glass, then glass more. Run ridges where you can see further and glass. Also, if elk are moving away from you, don’t try to catch them. They will make it 2 miles before you break 500 yards.


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Tabsgm

Tabsgm

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Copy that, I figured as much with the terrain, elevation, even though we have been preparing will be an adjustment. How significant is water sources to pressured Elk, will they come out of the recesses of cover or only after dark? I am trying to employee Midwest hunting logic to the west and I know they are not even close to the same.
 
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Tabsgm

Tabsgm

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Thanks, I will call out to CPW, we were wondering that too, we are coming in from the North as well, heard a lot of the roads in are closed because of the current fires. We have some back up locations determined as well, and if needed will adjust. I am thinking with the weather, little snow, and warm temps, to be about 9K for finding the, sound reasonable? Or should we look higher? Also figure post rutt, the bulls will be in the darkest thickest stuff we can find.
 

spike camp

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I dunno where you’ll find them, but 9k sounds low for the Zirkle area.
Weather looks hot and dry again, so it’s not like we’re in winter now with this little bit of snow accumulation.
Definitely don’t come at it with an eastern Whitetail strategy....
They’ll just be where you find them.
 

cnelk

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Elk in the Zirkels are getting ready for their migration during that time.
It’s already been cold in that country and some may have already moved out to the sage.
Be prepared to move and move some more.
Sounds like more snow will be hitting the mtns mid November

This was the temp the other morning

228F8E5B-0FC3-49D4-AAAC-D99FC1EC3891.jpeg
 
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Tabsgm

Tabsgm

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Wow the -24 is way colder than I was anticipating. I have a good 0 degree bag, now wishing I had colder rating. WE picked the area we did based on migration routes, anticipating either cold or snow. Let me ask this, I am taking a GMC 2500, chains for front and back, I have driven on a lot of back country rds, any insight there or warnings? Is driving and looking for them even worth trying, I would think that Elk avoid rds like the plague..
 

AaronMColeman

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Wow the -24 is way colder than I was anticipating. I have a good 0 degree bag, now wishing I had colder rating. WE picked the area we did based on migration routes, anticipating either cold or snow. Let me ask this, I am taking a GMC 2500, chains for front and back, I have driven on a lot of back country rds, any insight there or warnings? Is driving and looking for them even worth trying, I would think that Elk avoid rds like the plague..

That was a freak cold spell. It won’t be that cold when you get there. That was the night I short my bull :). Next day it was 35F on the same mountain. But, yes, be prepared for anything!

Glass and move. Glass and move. Don’t waste a ton of time in any one spot unless you have a reason to. Elk move and where they were yesterday is not where they’ll be today.

Someone mentioned not getting ahead or chasing the elk. That is true if one spooks or the herd bolts. But generally I think cutting off a herd is a great strategy. Even if the bill is pushing them, cows often have no urgency. If you see the herd feeding to the left, plan your route for visibility and scent and get to wheee you think they’ll be. Will they be there? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But you just have to try to get ahead of the slower moving herd.

Another thing I like to do is when nothing else is working, sit maybe 200y from timber you think they’re in and cow call sparingly. This works great on satellite bulls and raghorns in later season.

Good luck!
 

AaronMColeman

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Oh and in you’re road hunting question, yes that works but don’t expect them to be right there ready to be shot. I look at driving roads as either a way to get closer to where I want to hike, or a way to find glassing spots and see where they may be, then plan a route to them. And after a few days of hiking your ass off, an afternoon of driving can be really helpful.
 
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Tabsgm

Tabsgm

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Awesome feedback. On some of the other threads, I have heard nightmare stories of crowds of people at the trail heads, and more and more hunters moving into back country hunting because of some of the popular hunting shows out there. I assume this is true of all public land, not just CO. We will do everything we can to cover ground and out work everyone else.

With the colder temps, one of the respondents mentioned the Elk would be moving to Sage for food, is there any other primary cover type we should consider? I know in early season shows Elk are portrayed in Aspen, but i figure after all the previous seasons, they will be in the evergreens, and places less visible to the passer by. Last question (for now) saddles, drainages from elevation are all good spots from what I have researched, will elk hold up in relatively smaller spaces or does size of the depression matter much? I would think key drivers are cover, food and water, but again, first time in this space.
 

Str8shooter

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You would do well to not get too wrapped up in what kind of cover to hit...hit it all...they are transitioning from summer to winter habitats now and can be anywhere from 13k to 8k feet up there...from alpine to montane or sage habitats... and their food choice is just as varied. Whitetail hunters from the east I run into often say things like " we sat an elky looking spot" or walked to a meadow that" should have elk". A big tip is to recalibrate your understanding of animal densities on the landscape. There are something like 20 whitetails per mile in midwest states like Kentucky...most of Colorado has on the order of 1-3 elk per square mile and is actuallly typically less than 1 when you are talking about public lands. Go big with the boots, vehicle and optics until you find elk or steaming fresh sign. Ill never sit an area that doesnt have fresh sign, or that Im not smelling elk or literally watched elk move into... Sage/aspen interface isnt a bad place to start...but be quick to call an audible if you go a couple days without seeing elk or fresh sign.
 

cnelk

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If I was hunting there 3rd Season, I wouldn’t forget my ‘Independence’ or ‘Republic’ and my ‘Onions’. Wink wink
 

Str8shooter

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Id forget em now.....dudes like ^ drop names like this and you can be sure they'll be crawling....with more dudes....SMH. Another tip is if you read about CO spots on the internet...particularly with this level of resolution...forget about em. cnelk...its called a private message guy...
 

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cnelk

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Id forget em now.....dudes like ^ drop names like this and you can be sure they'll be crawling....with more dudes....SMH. Another tip is if you read about CO spots on the internet...particularly with this level of resolution...forget about em. cnelk...its called a private message guy...

Unless youre not familiar with the area, its no big secret. Plenty of guys, plenty of elk. Hunters keep the elk moving.
Always elk cycling thru these areas. Ive killed elk in all of em - early and late seasons.

It dont matter if you dont hunt them, many guys will and will kill elk.

BTW - Independence is effing huge. No way can you hunt it in a week.

Maybe Ill send the OP a PM with real honey hole over there. :)
 

Fatcamp

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I think you’ll do fine just based on the fact you are obviously naturally lucky. You got a lot of feedback and advice fast considering you said newbie, first post, just going, and asked for area specific info😂
Most dudes that ask anything close to that get tore up from the floor up on here😂

They win, bro. Too tired to argue any longer. At this point I'm just IM'ing my honey holes right off the bat. 😒
 
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Tabsgm

Tabsgm

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Hey guys, I do appreciate the feedback, I get the newbie point, hard to give advice to anyone joining the club. with no credibility I am getting the point, walk though, cover ground, then do it 10X more when I think I have covered enough, until I find them. I am looking forward to getting out, and putting some dirt under my feet and seeing the country.

Last question then I will leave you all be. How touchy are elk to firearm discharge? White tails basically get herded across public and private land by shots going off. In some of the areas I have hunted you can actually plan on the animals movement by where others are shooting. I would assume Elk are similar, but such a large expanse of land, and cover it may be foolish to assume anything.. Do they tend to move or hunker down tighter when shots are going off?
 
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