CO 1st rifle

SneakyThunderCat

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
152
Looking for some advice on first season elk hunting in CO. Me and a couple buddies have been tossing around the idea of going to a new area for an easy to draw 1st season tag this year instead of our usual 3rd season OTC tag to try and distance ourselves from the crowd a bit more.

We want to do a backpacking style hunt. What can we expect as far as weather, hunting pressure, elk behavior? I realize weather changes all the time, and I'm asking about this plenty far in advance, but I'm just trying to get a general idea of what to expect.

Also, any internet scouting advice for hunting a completely new area would be appreciated. Boots on the ground scouting will be out of the question this year due to schedule conflicts, but we plan to go out a few days before season to try and get on some elk. Just trying to gain some insight from people who have experience hunting that season.

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SesnDC

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Jan 9, 2019
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Best advice I got was to use Google Earth in conjunction with OnX to get different perspectives of the same are. Between the two you can get a pretty good understanding of the layout of an area without having boots on the ground.

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Joined
Nov 16, 2016
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Location
Colorado
Hunting pressure is usually pretty high during 1st season, in my experiences it is equal if not more crowded than 2nd and 3rd season (though this will depend on the unit).

Weather will likely be cold and there will likely be snow on the ground. I backpacked in during 1st rifle this year and all my water sources from September had frozen over. We ended up finding a frozen puddle and took the top layer of ice off and melted it down for drinking water. There's also a chance it could be warm without any snow on the ground.

The elk tend to get outta dodge when 1st rifle rolls around. They are much less vocal and will probably be in the thick stuff far from trails or down close to private property.

Finding an unpressured area would be very beneficial.
 
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SneakyThunderCat

SneakyThunderCat

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Best advice I got was to use Google Earth in conjunction with OnX to get different perspectives of the same are. Between the two you can get a pretty good understanding of the layout of an area without having boots on the ground.

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This is a great idea, I'll be sure to do that! thanks!
 

SesnDC

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Jan 9, 2019
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61
Weather will likely be cold and there will likely be snow on the ground. I backpacked in during 1st rifle this year and all my water sources from September had frozen over. We ended up finding a frozen puddle and took the top layer of ice off and melted it down for drinking water. There's also a chance it could be warm without any snow on the ground.
Weather is unpredictable. Bring a good layering system. It was 15 degrees the first night we camped and that was a cold sit the morning of opening day. A couple days later it was in the 60's during the day and I even encountered a hunter wearing shorts. Be prepared for anything. I drove out there so my mindset was to be prepared for any weather and leave the crap I didn't need in the truck when I got there.

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RazAlGhoul

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Jun 29, 2019
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111
If I had found the perfect elk rifle, the fun would be over! I plan to keep looking and trying and shooting.
That Model Seven MS in .350 Remington Magnum is indeed loads of fun. With factory ammo it's sort of a 2-inch rifle at 100 yards. Handloading or custom ammo would undoudtedly improve that.
Still, my old .338 has always been my go-to elk rifle, and then there's the .35 Whelen, which I've never tried, and the new .325 WSM. I've mentally toyed with the idea of a Remington M700 Ti in .30-06 rebarrelled to .35 Whelen. Such a rifle should come in at about 6.5 pounds all up. That could be my next elk rifle project. All I really know is that my annual elk hunt is a great rifle testing ground and trying new rifles in the mountains is a hoot.
 
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SneakyThunderCat

SneakyThunderCat

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152
Weather is unpredictable. Bring a good layering system. It was 15 degrees the first night we camped and that was a cold sit the morning of opening day. A couple days later it was in the 60's during the day and I even encountered a hunter wearing shorts. Be prepared for anything. I drove out there so my mindset was to be prepared for any weather and leave the crap I didn't need in the truck when I got there.

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That's what my plan is. Hard telling this far in advance for sure! Didn't know how doable a backpacking trip would be that time of year with how unpredictable the weather can be. We've always hunted all day and returned to the truck that night, so bringing everything with is will definitely be a new experience. And we will definitely need to buy some gear to prepare. Thanks for the advice!

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Coveyleader

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Nov 27, 2013
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576
From a gun hunt perspective, may be the best season in CO second to ML season. Weather is area dependent and impossible to plan, but first part of October can be incredible. Elk will still be bugling and when you hear them, good chance you will kill them.

I take friends during this hunt, and the pressure seems to be lower as its a short hunt, and most people want to hunt elk and deer combined if possible. Keep in mind, packing out several elk in that short of a window can be a killer. I've packed 6 in four days and it was harsh!

Have fun enjoy.
 

Thomas11

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Feb 13, 2017
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225
I did this hunt last yr and backpacked in. The first couple nites it was in the single digits and snowing. I was camped above 11k. It was cold! So u have to be prepared. What I think maybe gets overlooked in regard to weather, is the forecast u get for the nearest town is going to be lower elevation than usually where u r going. So the weather will be colder and conditions worse in the mountains. U can absolutely do a backhunt hunt for first rifle just be aware of weather and forecast. Something else is it’s a 5 day season so don’t go so far in that u can’t get out or move locations if they aren’t there at your number one spot
 

iowawhitetailnut

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Oct 16, 2019
Messages
44
This is all great info as i am planning rifle 1 hunt in colorado as well. Backpack camping in single digits weather, frozen water sources, and snow....I can see why so many people are addicted to elk hunting!?!
 

prm

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Mar 31, 2017
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579
I was @$&% cold at night last year. I was at 11.5k’. A 15deg bag was not comfortable. Ended up using the woobie over my bag and that was comfy! Nice during the day though.
 
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SneakyThunderCat

SneakyThunderCat

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Dec 14, 2018
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152
Thanks for the info guys. I definitely wasn't expecting it to be that cold, but then again I only have experience hunting 3rd rifle. Gives me a great excuse to upgrade the ol gear stash!

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commandoNate

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Oct 26, 2016
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157
Location
Colorado
October is very much a transitional month in terms of weather. Although I've never hunted 1st rifle I've done 2nd a number of years in a row now. We've experienced everything from t shirt weather to snowfall measured in feet and all in the same general area! We always have ourselves prepared for a backpack hunt AND a basecamp hunt. Being prepared for anything keeps you in the elk woods and that's how you fill tags.
 
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