Colorado Early Rifle High Country Thoughts?

Huntin_GI

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Apr 14, 2016
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119
Hey y'all,

Just curious to everyones opinions/experiences with the early rifle season in CO. I am going into this season with just a few (3) points and have first choice in mind BUT if I don't get the tag (point creep) I may try to hold out for an early rifle hunt. Anyone had a chance to do this hunt? As seasons have pushed back, has the above tree line hunts become more difficult? This is only my third season in CO and the first two were spent focusing on elk (1 Bull, 1 Cow) which paid off but now I am getting interested in some new adventures. Chime in with thoughts, experiences, and or recommendations regarding early rifle vs archery
 
Joined
Oct 10, 2018
Messages
79
i don't think early rifle dates move back like later rifle seasons this year. as many will tell you, bucks are hard to find up in the high country - you have to have time to scout and put some miles in. archery dates are better, bucks tend to leave the open basins and move to the trees as soon as they rub off velvet (because of flies biting their velvet?) Great adventure to be had if you have the time and muscles, mental and body!
 
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Huntin_GI

Huntin_GI

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Apr 14, 2016
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119
Would you recommend leaning into an archery hunt considering I do have scouting opportunities and try to be up there on the opener?
 

jolemons

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Mar 16, 2013
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770
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CO/NM, United States
Did it 3 years ago in 444. We were in on opening morning and the deer had, for the most part, timbered up. Tough hunt. Good luck

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MuleyFever

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Nov 7, 2012
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4,733
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S. UTAH
Hey y'all,

Just curious to everyones opinions/experiences with the early rifle season in CO. I am going into this season with just a few (3) points and have first choice in mind BUT if I don't get the tag (point creep) I may try to hold out for an early rifle hunt. Anyone had a chance to do this hunt? As seasons have pushed back, has the above tree line hunts become more difficult? This is only my third season in CO and the first two were spent focusing on elk (1 Bull, 1 Cow) which paid off but now I am getting interested in some new adventures. Chime in with thoughts, experiences, and or recommendations regarding early rifle vs archery
I think a few of those tags can be great but not the ones that take your number of points.
 
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Huntin_GI

Huntin_GI

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Joined
Apr 14, 2016
Messages
119
Had no doubt that if I wanted to do this hunt it is a few years down the road. My line of thinking had me debating the "quality" of that hunt in the first place. The issue, as I understand it is the deer moving into timber as soon as the velvet is gone. If that is what happens, I imagine I would be better off hunting the high country on opener with archery tackle as it provides earlier dates.
 

Str8shooter

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Jan 16, 2014
Messages
276
As has been alluded too, early rifle season is right on the cusp of the time those deer head into the trees. Early snow or freeze up can also push those bucks down and 2 weeks of archery hunters blowing out basins makes for educated deer in most units. Also keep your eyes open on early rifle hunts that are specifically "above timberline only",... It also seems that a lot of dudes report missing at 12k+ with their rifles. Extreme angles are likely one part of the equation, but muzzle velocity and drops can change significantly up high and most guys arent setting up chronographs to develop dope at those elevations before their hunts. Wind ripping up or down concentrated drainages can also push bullets in ways many arent prepared for.
 

Fozzy26

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Joined
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
122
Location
Cuchara, CO
I'm curious about this also. Mostly from the later season dates. I have been on two of these early rifle hunts with friends of mine that have drawn them. Both were awesome and resulted in awesome bucks. I started 6 years ago building points specifically for an early rifle tag, but with the later season dates, I'm worried that they will be hard horned and pushed down into the timber. I have talked to some people who had the tag last year (first year this tag was pushed back), and they eluded to the fact that most of the bucks they found were hard horned ( to be expected) but that they didn't see as many deer up high either. With the rest of the rifle seasons being pushed back, I'm wondering if my points are better spent hunting a good 3rd season tag, and hunt them more towards when they start rutting and are more active. Lots of decisions to make.
 

Marble

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May 29, 2019
Messages
1,197
I've been hunting second season in CO since 2002. Each year I've had good opportunities at big bucks at 10,500 to 12,000'. There have been two years where the deer had moved out where I didn't see a deer or a deer track. Those were years where a storm came in the week before second season and put ~20" of snow down and the temps remained in the teens. The elk remained but were lower than normal.

I've always seen some deer in the timber, but primarily glassed and hunted the areas 11,000 to 11,500 and found lone mature bucks, or groups of bachelor's. Those deer remained in this area until I assume they are forced out by weather or they come down to rut.

My best success has always been finding a glassing place where I can see several ridges anywhere from 1-5 miles and picking out bucks. Then hunting them. I normally have fairly long shots doing this.

IME, if you can find good glassing areas and have glass good enough to reach out and pick up bucks, you will have opportunities in early rifle.

But finding these spots to glass and areas to hunt sometimes take years to develope...which is what your struggle will be if you are not intimately familiar with the area. This where having 3-4 days of scouting can make or break a trip and is so important.

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Joined
Apr 8, 2019
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10
Looks like muzzle loader and high country rifle will have the same season dates for the next few years. With your points, you should have some more options going for muzzle loader.
 
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