Colorado Unit 81 now a draw instead of OTC for Archery

ETXBowhunter

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Feb 3, 2022
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Hello everyone. New to the forum here.

Just wanted to pass along some info that I was just made aware of by the Outfitter that I use for Colorado Unit 81 archery Elk hunts in the San Juan Wilderness public hunting land area. My Outfitter just let me know that Unit 81 has went to a draw hunt for archery Elk starting this year (2022). Outfitter stated that the CPW told him that the decision was made to try and cut down on some of the hunting pressure with the herds on public hunting land. According to the Outfitter, CPW's idea behind this is that by going to a draw hunt for archery Elk it will afford better opportunities to the public land archery hunters in this Unit. Curious to know the opinions and thoughts of some the more seasoned Elk hunters on here who are familiar with the draw system in CO?
 

Gerbdog

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IS what it is. I'll adapt and overcome. I have several hunting spots in those units, and they were a favorite that i could hunt every year if i wanted. Now? Well... i dunno. I wont be burning my points on it. We will see, still working out my game plan for 2022. Wanna get down there and hunt a big bear boar i know of in the area.... would be nice to take an elk tag too... cause soon as you dont you know that 330+ bull is walking by at 20 yards.

I agree with CPW, it does get hit with a ton of hunters down there, pretty crowded, but im not convinced it wasnt a symptom of them closing off the other units from OTC to a draw to the west of the units (around the durango area).. i am starting to suspect all the OTC units will fall like dominoes as hunters keep piling into the remaining OTC units.

There ya go, gave my opinion as an archery hunter who has hunted 80/81
 

Still Hunter

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If they allocate the same amount of Archery Tags they did in the other twelve units two years ago it won’t make any difference. When they start filling the new draw unit tags with 2nd choices and still have tags left over there is a problem.
 

tdhanses

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Truthfully every unit should be draw and 1st choice options should only be allowed and if you want to build a pref pt no tag should be allowed. 81 will be an easy 100% draw this year.

This would remove those building pts for better units and keep people with a decent amount of points from putting in for low pt units, reducing pressure significantly as many hunt otc or units that don’t draw out on the first round while they bank pts.
 

clint6760

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So both units are separate now right? Meaning if you draw for unit 81, it will only be good for that unit and not both 80 and 81.
 

alex_b11

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IS what it is. I'll adapt and overcome. I have several hunting spots in those units, and they were a favorite that i could hunt every year if i wanted. Now? Well... i dunno. I wont be burning my points on it. We will see, still working out my game plan for 2022. Wanna get down there and hunt a big bear boar i know of in the area.... would be nice to take an elk tag too... cause soon as you dont you know that 330+ bull is walking by at 20 yards.

I agree with CPW, it does get hit with a ton of hunters down there, pretty crowded, but im not convinced it wasnt a symptom of them closing off the other units from OTC to a draw to the west of the units (around the durango area).. i am starting to suspect all the OTC units will fall like dominoes as hunters keep piling into the remaining OTC units.

There ya go, gave my opinion as an archery hunter who has hunted 80/81
I hinted 81 last year and the crowding was pretty bad. Counted the trucks at one of the main trailhead and there was 50 at the th alone. I cant complain too much because I was part of the crowding too.

I was there the whole season so I got the chance to meet quite a few hunters at trailheads and such. A lot of them had been hunting 78 every year until it went to a draw, so they just bumped over to 81.
 

prm

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I stopped hunting 81 years when I felt it was a zoo. I don’t have the answer, but the ability to be able to learn and hunt a single area year after year, and not be overrun, sure is getting more difficult.
 

Squirrel Master

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I hunted 81 in 2018, a little later in archery season. I saw a lot of people camped but not a ton of people in the woods. I applied this year because I found some pretty good spots last time and it's crazy how much I've missed the mountains. Only thing is, none of my group from last time wanted to apply, so if I win I guess I'll go back by myself...so hopefully I didn't bite off more than I can chew lol.
 

Nickofthewoods

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I was there the whole season so I got the chance to meet quite a few hunters at trailheads and such. A lot of them had been hunting 78 every year until it went to a draw, so they just bumped over to 81.
Which is probably part of the reason it's a draw unit now as well. Apparently everyone except cpw saw that issue coming from a mile away. I haven't looked at the unit map to see what the next closest otc units are but they will have the same problem of harboring all of the displaced OTC hunters from Tx, nm, ok, etc.
 
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cnelk

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Which is probably part of the reason it's a draw unit now as well. Apparently everyone except cpw saw that issue coming from a mile away. I haven't looked at the unit map to see what the next closest otc units are but they will have the same problem of harboring all of the displaced OTC hunters from Tx, nm, ok, etc.
The gray units around 80/81 are still OTC.


EF1D8907-84D3-4287-9711-86E224901CC6.jpeg
 

CObywayofUSAF

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I certainly don't fall into the "seasoned elk hunter" category, but I see both sides of it. I hunted a different OTC unit and experienced the packed trail heads, etc. It got pretty old going back over 5 miles to areas and still running into hunters. With modern gear, ONX, etc. hunters are more motivated/equipped to hunt every corner of a unit and it starts to feel impossible to get away from crowds.
 

RojoGrande

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82, 83, 85 and 86 have limited public land. Most of the elk get blown out the first weekend on to private. 851 is nearly all private except for bosque del oso which is a special draw tag (and really not worth it anymore). 85 has a lot of large ranches, Twin Peaks, Tercio, Hill ranch, Bar N 1, and several smaller (1000 to 2000 acre) ranches around La Veta. 86 has the Aught Six ranch and others. 82 has Sand Dunes and a lot of private on the lower elevations. 83 is just a lot of private in the San Louis valley. Not really a lot of choices to absorb OTC hunters from 80 and 81. As someone else mentioned 80 and 81 may have a lot of tags allocated so there may not be much of a drop off in the crowd. Same circus, different tent.
 

Nickofthewoods

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Not really a lot of choices to absorb OTC hunters from 80 and 81. As someone else mentioned 80 and 81 may have a lot of tags allocated so there may not be much of a drop off in the crowd. Same circus, different tent.

Or they will just show up anyway. When the other southern units recently went draw only, the USFS haphazardly posted paper signs at the entrances to many forest service roads midway through archery season alerting people that units were no longer OTC. I saw one sign that was stapled to a surveyor's stake that was stuck down an orange construction cone. That made it pretty obvious that people were still showing up thinking it was OTC and the Forest Service was scrambling to spread the word.
 

camelcluch

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Strange that the elk heard is hurting in numbers but they have allowed unlimited access for years. I believe the units are still OTC for rifle.
 
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