5 days early for scouting?

John87

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Jul 16, 2019
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Me and some buddies drew Colorado 1st rifle tags, and for a couple of us, it’s our first elk hunt. I’ve been planning this trip for more than a year now, and have changed plans and gear several times since I started planning, lol.
We are going in 2 truck, as there are 5 of us going. One buddy and myself are planning to leave out Friday night, take turns driving straight through to a small town close to where we will be hunting, and staying at a motel. Then, Sunday morning, driving into the mountains and hiking in to where we plan to hunt and setting up camp. The other guys are leaving out Monday morning and when they arrive, they are setting up a canvas tent at the trucks, then meet up with us a few days before season.
I plan on using the 5 days before season to scout out some spots that look good from what I can see on OnX, and hopefully spotting some elk and getting a plan together for opening day.
I’m not asking anyone for any hunting spots, or anything like that, just critique my plans so far. Is there a better use of my time? Any feedback is appreciated.
 

WI in the west

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I went 5 days early for a mule deer hunt last year, just be careful not to burn your self out would be my only suggestion. By the second day the season was open i was getting pretty run down being day 7 out there in the high country.
I think its a good idea id just maybe plan a rest day in there maybe so you hit thise 5 days of season hard. good luck!
 
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John87

John87

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I went 5 days early for a mule deer hunt last year, just be careful not to burn your self out would be my only suggestion. By the second day the season was open i was getting pretty run down being day 7 out there in the high country.
I think its a good idea id just maybe plan a rest day in there maybe so you hit thise 5 days of season hard. good luck!
we plan to rest before season starts, maybe do some fishing and rest up.
 
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John87

John87

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So many guys go early and tramp around the woods before season. Probably see some elk.
But they just can’t help themselves and keep going back to see elk.

Then come opening morning wonder why they don’t see any elk.

Seen it so many times.
So, stay out of the area till season open? Or keep my distance from them, if I find elk, make a note of it and move on?
 

dtrkyman

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Burned out in 5 days, maybe, but I would scout as much as physically possible. I would imagine you will have plenty of company CO. 1st rifle!
 

fmyth

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If I went 5 days early I'd take a day to set up camp. Then spend the next 4 days learning the roads trailheads and access points and mark them all on Onx. I'd also pick my plan B camping spot in case we get over run on opening day. I'd spend the rest of my time glassing from the road or not far from it. I sure wouldn't be busting brush for 5 days.
 

cnelk

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So, stay out of the area till season open? Or keep my distance from them, if I find elk, make a note of it and move on?

That would be a good plan. Like someone mentioned above, learn all the trails and roads. Good chance some locals (like me) are gonna roll up on Friday, set up a tent and go shoot an elk opening morning.

You’re gonna want to know where other camps are.

Here’s a Pro Tip - when you’re driving around, look for camps sites and especially look for camp sites with game poles already up. ;)

Always a good sign
 

CJF

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Scouting the days leading up to season should be done with glass from a distance if possible. If a herd sees and smells you they can be over a 12,000’ ridge in a heartbeat and you will never see them again on that hunt.

My critique of your overall plan is that you seem pretty locked into one camp area. I know guys that hunt this way and have a good time, but they aren’t as successful as ones who are willing to move. Spend some of your extra days glassing different drainages….like others have said, there may be a ton of people and no elk where you camp after opening day. I’d invest time in finding those secondary options.
 

cnelk

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I'd set up wall tent camp, hang out in my fold up recliner, and drink a lot of sweet tea. I would not get far enough off road to need a bottle of water.

Go hang out and acclimate.

Hey now! That’s exactly how I hunt elk! 😂
 

MallardSX2

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I would get there a day or two early, set camp, and drive the roads and see what kid of access I had and what kind of pressure there was and from where. In 2 days of window surveying I would have a solid plan so I didn't kill myself getting it packed out of there.
 

Kurts86

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I would not drive through the night on the way out. It’s a great way to set yourself up to be worn out even faster on a 10 day hunt. It’s not worth the 1/2 day it might save.

I’ve shown up 3 days early for Colorado 1st rifle before and worn ourselves out before the season even started. We gambled on a spot way too deep that held elk in August and September and the forage was wiped out by mid October and weather was bad early. Once you log a marathon before the season straight from sea level, at altitude, with camp on your back and not so much as an elk sighting you are pretty wiped out and not in a great headspace going into the opener.

Metering out a hard but sustainable effort for a week plus elk hunt at altitude is one of the most difficult aspects of these hunts. IMO acclimation isn’t so much a factor as how fit you show up, how hydrated you manage to stay in dry high elevation climates and not getting yourself into an energy debt you can’t dig out of. Physical recovery is really difficult even at 6-7k elevation your nearest hotel likely sits at.

Your scouting days you need to go light, split up your group as best as possible and camp at the most central road intersection in the unit. Remain flexible, glass from up high the first and last few hours of light each day. Driving the unit even 2 days early won’t show you where all the camps are, plenty show up Thursday night or Friday before the opener.

5 guys is going to be a difficult number but at least you have 2 vehicles. Some guys are going to throw in the towel after a few days but use them to shuttle you so your hunting and scouting can be point to point across the unit rather that always out and back. I’ve never had good luck when we have more than 2 guys per vehicle, multiples of 2’s just hunt better and avoid 3rd wheel issues.
 

Hoyt Ag

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A guide that trained me always told me to scout with a spotting scope with a bottle of water and hunt with binos and your Camelbak. Doesnt apply to every state or terrain, but he has a point to scout from a distance....
 

joel_sledz

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Jan 18, 2016
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If anything go one day early, hike in, set up camp and relax the rest of the day. Do your scouting while you’re hunting. Assuming you only have a select amount of PTO a year (no clue if you do or not) but why waste 5 days to just scout? Use those 5 days plus the other days you set aside to hunt. If it’s huh pressure, you’re most likely going to watch bulls for a few days before the season and people will blow them out walking in the day before opening day anyway. Just my opinion!
 
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