Elk vs Mule Deer - I need help deciding between tags

Magnum61

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Apr 27, 2016
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Hello Everyone! Thanks for checking this thread out.

Let me lay some facts out:

  • I've never shot an Elk
  • I've hunted Elk and have found elk at the same time
  • I'm mainly a Mule Deer guy
I have the choice between a 3rd season Mule Deer tag in Colorado or hunting OTC Elk 3rd season in CO and learning an area that would be beneficial for me to learn for future hunts(multiple reasons).

I've heard everything from "You never turn down a 3rd season MD tag in CO" to "Your Unit is a dumpster fire, get a refund".

My second option is the OTC elk tag. Being a solo hunter, does anyone have any advice of how to look at this situation?
 
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Magnum61

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PNW Native forced to California
I forgot to add a piece to my points above. I feel like I'm hearing that Mule Deer are struggling everywhere and Elk are doing really well. this is also an opportunity outlook as well.
 

Laramie

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My first post still applies- Even on a down year you stand a high chance of harvesting a deer during 3rd season. On the best years, you still have a slim chance of filling OTC elk. If you haven't done it, it is an experience.
 

Young Blood

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Kalispell, MT
This is probably a really stupid question from a guy that has never looked into the CO regs... can't you hunt both at the same time if they are both 3rd season? Again, probably a stupid questions. I'm just used to Montana where seasons and elk/deer habitat overlap.
 

long hunter

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If it were me and the time allowed I would give a week too each, one week hunting mule deer and a week hunting elk, actually hunt the deer first, As Larimie said your best opportunity lies with the deer, maybe tag out early and that gives more time for the elk.
 

thedutchtouch

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Sep 2, 2021
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i'm a newbie so keep that in mind as you keep reading... i'd go elk, variety is the spice of life. try to think of it in terms of which hunt would you regret missing rather than which would you like to do, perhaps that will help?
 

sndmn11

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Morrison, Colorado
Solo? Muleys, and they taste better. I don't know that I wouldn't have it in the back of my mind in an unfamiliar unit that I need to limit my distance from the truck for meat packing purposes that are most likely in snow. I would be far more confident in accomplishing that task with a deer than an elk.
If I knew the unit well and where I could move meat to access points or hidey holes that produce in snow that aren't epic jaunts into the wilds....I'd think about an elk.
 

Jimss

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Mar 6, 2015
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Colo mule deer are headed for the toilet. Take advantage of a 3rd season deer tag before this happens! Later season dates during the rut plus more tags equates to few mature bucks available in the years to come. OTC elk is available every year.
 

Hunt4lyf

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Colo mule deer are headed for the toilet. Take advantage of a 3rd season deer tag before this happens! Later season dates during the rut plus more tags equates to few mature bucks available in the years to come. OTC elk is available every year.

This right here.
 

specneeds

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I’m an elk hunter first & deer a distant 2nd. But I agree the later season & lots of tags issued will really knock down the big bucks for a few years.
 

AaronMColeman

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Nov 20, 2018
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Wyoming
If it were me, Elk all day long. If it were highest odds, Mule deer...but I'd still choose elk. If it were health of the species, elk all day long. If it were coolest animal on earth, elk all day long.
 
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