First Archery Backpack trip/CO GMU 54

LitenFast

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2013
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382
Location
Ellison Bay, WI
Hello,
A buddy and I are planning our first backpack elk archery trip for this Sept. I have a fair amount of backpacking experience and have elk hunted in WY in 2011, but it wasn't archery or backpacking. We are both mid 20's and in pretty good shape, for Midwest boys anyway. We have both already started running and working out to get in shape.
My question is, is the West Elk Wilderness Area in GMU 54 a good place to head for? We don't expect it to be easy, looks really rugged, but we want to get away from the crowds. We will be learning a lot I am sure on our first trip like this, but are both pretty determined to go at it on our own with backpacks, except for possibly a pack out service depending on our luck/distance from the truck.
Is it possible for nonresidents to even draw this area without pref points? Any suggestions would be great, and PMs are more than welcome. I don't expect people to direct me to a certain ridge, drainage etc. Just trying to get a unit nailed down that makes sense for our type of hunting so other suggestions for units would be great too.
Thanks a ton
LitenFast
 

bnsafe

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Feb 24, 2012
Messages
284
i cant speak to that unit cause ive never been there, but go to the co website and you will find a ton of info. and order their magazine with the pp issue. it will give you all the draw odds. they also have hunt planners you can call and they were super helpful to me last year. good luck.
 
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LitenFast

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Jan 29, 2013
Messages
382
Location
Ellison Bay, WI
Any info on the general area also, units 53,54,55 would be great. I have spent some time looking at the stats on the CO DOW, what an awesome site. Having a hard time picking an area, there are so many, but I have heard this would have good backpacking opportunities. Feel like I am taking the GMU map and throwing a blind dart at it, ha ha.
 

drthornton

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Feb 29, 2012
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253
Location
Prosper, TX
Don't have any experience in there personally but I know 2 guys that go in there. They use horses and tell me they would not try it without. They are older gentleman, far from mid 20s though. I think you'll get a real deal CO experience in there. I would seriously consider lining up a pack service. It'll allow you to get in there deeper. Stats are real good for 54 as far as herd size, bull/cow ratio and hunting pressure but I think the terrain has allot to do with that.

I think this year is 54's 3rd year in the archery draw, was OTC before that, but it still has tags that go to leftover. If you are confident you are gonna go in there apply in April and put it as your 2nd choice and get a Pref point.
 

Broken Arrow

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Mar 5, 2012
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230
Location
Grain valley, Mo
I looked at 54 it is really rugged and steep. From looking at the DOW site it is a pretty good summer range area with several migration corridors. also it is my understanding that the reason it is a draw unit is that the cow population is above objectives and that making it a draw unit for archery is an attempt to lighten the pressure during Sept to help out the rifle hunters. at least that's what I was told. The success rate has been pretty consistant for the last several years. This will be my first time chasing elk (DIY bivy/spike camp solo) and it has been in the planning stage for a year and a half. I spent 3 months just pouring over success rates looking at summer range/migration routes and looking up past post on several forums for the units I was interested in. The terrain is the only reason I didn't pick 54 I went with a unit that was a little easier on the body with a very consistant success rate and gaps of a mile or more between hiking/pack trails.
 

HOT ROD

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Apr 15, 2012
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826
Location
Casper Wy
LitenFast every thing drthorton and Broken Arrow is spot on. I have hunted it a few times.The only gmu I have hunted in Co. U could check out eagle mt outfitters. To see about packing Ur game out. They do drop camps. U will work for Ur elk fore sure in there. They run there camps out of big soap park. Need any more help. i would be glad to help.
 

ohhiitznik

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Feb 24, 2012
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Location
Rochester Hills, MI
You have to understand that success rates and what not will not determine your success. You are not the other hunters. Here's what I did when I was in your position last year planning my first solo trip...

Picked an area, regardless of its success rate/access/location. Scouted that area with my knowledge of what/where/how to look for elk via google earth. Went there and hunted it and found elk.

if you're dead set on 54, don't worry about what others tell you. Check google earth, look for elky areas and then put your boots on the ground and go. If you really want to get away from the crowds, look for the units that are OTC with the least amount of hunters. Then you'll really get away. Find steep nasty terrain and give it a shot.
 
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LitenFast

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Jan 29, 2013
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382
Location
Ellison Bay, WI
Thanks a bunch for all the responses, I am definitely leaning towards this unit. Looks really rugged, but I have heard that bulls like it that way. I have been addicted to this site since I found it a couple months ago, lots of great info on here. I will post up my gear list in the next couple weeks as a different thread to get everyones thoughts on my gear, the gear part is my favorite part of planning.

Any other info on this unit is greatly appreciated!
 

Teeton

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Feb 18, 2013
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174
Location
Northeast, Pa
If I can help you out let me know. I've got over 100 days in 54 over the last 20 years. Hell one of my business emails has 54 in the address for unit 54. Look at the elk photos, the photo of me on page 5 with the horns was 54. Look at the photo and tell me if it looks steep.. Tee
 

ST52v

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Jul 12, 2012
Messages
626
It is draw but it generally has tags leftover aftre the draw. Last year I put in for a point for my first choice and unit 54 archery second choice. Pm me and I can send you some pitures from my phone. Robin
 
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LitenFast

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Joined
Jan 29, 2013
Messages
382
Location
Ellison Bay, WI
Put in for Unit 54 today with my hunting buddy. Now the waiting begins. Thanks for all the info so far and those that sent PMs. I am always looking for more info on the area and what people have done or seen in the area. We are hoping to concentrate in the West Elk Wilderness Area if we draw, and try to get back in a few miles. I also ordered up some maps of the area, and looked at Mytopo, looks like nice stuff.
 
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