First Archery Elk Hunt in CO

SuspiciousFish

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
May 26, 2022
Messages
218
Hi guys,

I am going to bow hunt for the first time this fall in CO with my Brother-in-Law. I am really excited to go hunting for the first time. As of right now we both put in for Mule Deer but have a backup plan to go OTC Elk in the same unit. I have been formulating a general strategy for this hunt and am accumulating gear. I wanted to bounce some of my plans off the forum as I am getting a good idea on what I want to do but dont want to go in a bad direction or miss anything. I have been lurking here for a while and reading up on different posts.

Overall Strategy:

The main strategy of this hunt will be saturation. We are going around Sep 11-14 which unfortunately puts us out there with bows in the middle of muzzy season. (CO need to get this fixed). This gives a short timeframe to cover as much ground as possible. With OTC elk there are about 2 good sized connected units we will have access to. We will be running a 4 seat side by side for our primary transportation. I am going to treat this hunt like a backpack hunt in regards to gear and we will be camping off the Side by Side due to the nature of the roads. My goal is to be able to unpack or pack camp in 15 min in light or dark. I have been doing a lot of E-Scouting on OnX and have pretty much the entire unit covered with glass points and digital trails from the road to the vantage points. I tried to keep the hike from the road to the glass point under 1.5 miles so we can always keep moving. I am going to try to do some boots on the ground this summer but its difficult as the drive is 3 hours and I have kids and work. My main scouting goal is to test the digital glass routes and glassing points, take photos and find water and campsite spots.

Current Gear list:

Day Pack:
Kuiu Venture 1800 pack with Kuiu piggyback extender (Pack Accessory Pouch)
Katadyn Water Filter
First Aid Kit
Survival Kit (Survival Blankets, lighter, tea candle. matches, whistle, extra compass)
Radio
Headlamp
Phone with OnX Maps
Compass and Topos
GPS SOS Beacon
Knife
Bear Spay
Kill Kit
Game Bags
Binoculars and Rangefinder
Dakine Pack Rain Cover
Thermarest Egg Crate Pad for Glassing
Dolica Pro-line Tripod
Bino Adapter
(I am in the market for a good value Bino Holster)

Weapon:
PSE Bowmadness Unleashed
PSE Kit 3 Pin Site
PSE Kit Bow Quiver
Tru-ball Hook Wrist release
Gold Tip hunting arrows (I want to build some 450 to 475 grain arrows as the PSE I have has a lot of FPS to play with. I chrono'd at 280 FPS with my old Cabelas )
I am still looking at broadhead options but am looking at the Magnus Stinger Fixed Blade.

Clothes:
Wool Crochet Hat (My wife makes badass crochet hats)
Kuiu Merino Balaclava
Boonie Hat
Kuiu Merino Long Sleeve
Kuiu Peloton 240 Hoodie
Field and Stream Fleece Vest
First Lite Guide Lite Pants (Awesome pants and keep me warm with thermals but they are pretty loud.)
Oakley Synthetic Thermal leggings (I may upgrade to merino. Heads up: Icebreaker is running storewide 25% off sale)
Columbia Rain Pants
Marmot Pre-cip rain shell
Costco Wool Socks
Irish Setter Elk Tracker Uninsulated Boots

Camp:
2 Person Backpacking Tent
Therma Rest Inflatable Pads
40 deg Sleeping Bag (I may need to upgrade to 20 - 30 deg)
Coleman single burner camp stove and propane
Tarp Shelter
Camp Table
(Optional) Mini Camp heater
10 Gallon water container for general cleaning etc
Mess Kit

Food:
Beakfast: Instant Oatmeal, Freeze Dried Cereal or Bars
Lunch: Bars or Trail Mix
Dinner: Freeze Dried or pre-frozen meals with cooler. I also might make pemmican and throw it in some hat water for stew.


Anyway, this is what I have put together so far. Feel free to critique any of my gear choices or strategy. I have a list of gear/general questions as well but dont want to bomb the thread on the OP; let me know if you would prefer to post them in respective threads. I have some concerns about crowding in this Unit due to some changes this year so if anyone is a CO resident and has good insight on OTC vs Draw Elk units in CO we can PM and discuss.

Thanks in advance for the advice. I am stoked to go hunting and planning for this hunt has helped me a lot in keeping myself physically fit and focused. It has already been extremely rewarding despite not being in the field yet. Its finally given me the motivation to wake up at 6:00am to lift or throw on a 25l b weighted pack and get on the treadmill. I also shoot every week at my local archery range and and getting confident with my bow.
 

rambo2345

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Messages
386
Congratulations on making the move to big game hunting. Looks like you are well on your way. Just a couple of comments that I hope will help.

Your listing of equipment sounds pretty extensive and a good one but might be a bit much for a side by side on potentially difficult roads.

It is likely that even this early in the year that you will need a warmer bag.

Good luck.
 
OP
S

SuspiciousFish

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
May 26, 2022
Messages
218
Congratulations on making the move to big game hunting. Looks like you are well on your way. Just a couple of comments that I hope will help.

Your listing of equipment sounds pretty extensive and a good one but might be a bit much for a side by side on potentially difficult roads.

It is likely that even this early in the year that you will need a warmer bag.

Good luck.

Thank you for your advice. The sleeping bag is my biggest concern at this point. Being the high country the weather estimates show a temp range from 20 at night to 65 during the day. The side by side is a 4 seater and there is two of us so I am going to see how much gear I can get into plastic bins then strap them into the back seats. My brother-in-law is coming from out of state so getting his gear to fit with mine without too much pre checking is also a concern.
 
OP
S

SuspiciousFish

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
May 26, 2022
Messages
218
I do some hunting out of a SXS, grab a collapsible bucket for water, and I use a gravity filter filling a clean 2.5 gallon container.

View attachment 415146
That looks like a legit setup. I have a Katadyn water pump but this looks much easier to manage back at camp. Back in Boy Scouts it was either pump or use iodine so I got used to it. Do you know much about the South Colorado Hunting units? I have a question about the unit we are looking to hit but would rather do over PM.
 

FlyGuy

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Aug 13, 2016
Messages
1,986
Location
The Woodlands, TX
Yes, those platypus camp filter set ups are amazing for base camps. Might be on sale at goHUNT this weekend? That’s where I got mine.

Unless you sleep really warm I’d suggest a 20° bag or quilt. (I can typically be fine in a 0° quilt in September too.)

Don’t worry about the MZ hunters. I know there was a bad incident last year but it’s typically pretty safe. Bring a little orange if you are really concerned about it.

Bring plenty of fuel, no gas stations out there.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

11boo

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Feb 24, 2016
Messages
1,634
Location
Grand Jct, CO
That looks like a legit setup. I have a Katadyn water pump but this looks much easier to manage back at camp. Back in Boy Scouts it was either pump or use iodine so I got used to it. Do you know much about the South Colorado Hunting units? I have a question about the unit we are looking to hit but would rather do over PM.

we have pumps and sawyer squeeze Filters, but two of us go thru 2 gallons a day, and the bag is too easy.
I hunt the other end of the state.
Do take some blaze. I had a bear hunter raise his rifle at me, while I was in camp and wearing a black stocking cap Last September.

The SxS makes it easy getting back into spots the truck would take a beating on.

A3894F6D-B16C-41B6-8DE8-C7BB5403458B.jpeg
 
OP
S

SuspiciousFish

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
May 26, 2022
Messages
218
we have pumps and sawyer squeeze Filters, but two of us go thru 2 gallons a day, and the bag is too easy.
I hunt the other end of the state.
Do take some blaze. I had a bear hunter raise his rifle at me, while I was in camp and wearing a black stocking cap Last September.

The SxS makes it easy getting back into spots the truck would take a beating on.

View attachment 415193

That is crazy you got drawn on even in camp. Some people are idiots and have no discipline. I think I am going to grab a cheap blaze vest and maybe just throw it in my pack for the final stalk. The pic looks sweet. I think as long as you can pack efficiently and keep light you should be able to run off the SXS. Did you run back to the truck at all or were able to keep sufficient off the SXS the entire hunt?
 

11boo

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Feb 24, 2016
Messages
1,634
Location
Grand Jct, CO
I was pretty shocked to see his rifle coming up at me in camp. It was a very secluded spot next to a well used access trail, and I was just going to say hi to them, not “Don’t point that F-ing gun at me You idiot”. I always kept a little blaze ribbon on the back of my packs, bear gunners are out all season. I now keep an orange bandanna handy.

We could easily go 10 days without a truck run. I end up going home once a week to help the wife, so always running ice back up on my return.

The fuel is where you could run short, but we don’t use the machine much once we are in. Half the time we hunt from camp, sometimes we run a couple miles to hit other drainages.
 

arock

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 10, 2020
Messages
166
Location
Colorado
You're going to want a warmer sleeping bag. Being cold and not sleeping is miserable.

You will also want a puffy jacket. Even if its July I won't go up into the high country without a puffy.

When we first moved to CO we got whacked with a hail storm on the hike in for a weekend camping trip and the temp took a dump from 60 to 35 within 2 hours. When I checked the weather after we got off the mountain it was close to 25. This was in August. Pretty miserable hike out but made it back to the truck, put on dry clothes and got off the mountain. If we had more appropriate gear it would have been significantly less concerning. Pretty much anything can happen up there and that was a swift learning experience. Luckily we were in a position where we had a fairly quick exit.

Figuring out your hydration solution is going to be a big deal. The hanging bag is a good idea. Depending on where you're at you may be able to steripen your way through it. I go through about 2 gallons of water a day. I'd also recommend some pedialyte or liquid IV or some other hydration supplement.

If you're bringing a cooler back - throwing some "real" food in there like burgers or brats; something not freeze dried and satisfying is super super super nice to give a bit of a lift.

Strategy wise - with the limited time, if you aren't in fresh sign and don't hear any then have a backup spot to move to. Seeing the terrain in person would be a good idea. Completely changed my plan last year. Looking at a hard copy map where it is a bit easier to see the super steep terrain since you can't zoom in and distort the contour lines is a good idea as well.
 
OP
S

SuspiciousFish

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
May 26, 2022
Messages
218
You're going to want a warmer sleeping bag. Being cold and not sleeping is miserable.

You will also want a puffy jacket. Even if its July I won't go up into the high country without a puffy.

When we first moved to CO we got whacked with a hail storm on the hike in for a weekend camping trip and the temp took a dump from 60 to 35 within 2 hours. When I checked the weather after we got off the mountain it was close to 25. This was in August. Pretty miserable hike out but made it back to the truck, put on dry clothes and got off the mountain. If we had more appropriate gear it would have been significantly less concerning. Pretty much anything can happen up there and that was a swift learning experience. Luckily we were in a position where we had a fairly quick exit.

Figuring out your hydration solution is going to be a big deal. The hanging bag is a good idea. Depending on where you're at you may be able to steripen your way through it. I go through about 2 gallons of water a day. I'd also recommend some pedialyte or liquid IV or some other hydration supplement.

If you're bringing a cooler back - throwing some "real" food in there like burgers or brats; something not freeze dried and satisfying is super super super nice to give a bit of a lift.

Strategy wise - with the limited time, if you aren't in fresh sign and don't hear any then have a backup spot to move to. Seeing the terrain in person would be a good idea. Completely changed my plan last year. Looking at a hard copy map where it is a bit easier to see the super steep terrain since you can't zoom in and distort the contour lines is a good idea as well.

Thanks for the heads up on the sleeping bag. I live in Colorado Springs and it looks like they have a rental shop for cold bags so I will probably hit them up. That is a good call on the jacket too. I have a puffy I use around town but probably need a more packable one. I think there are some good deals on MooseJaw right now for end of season clearance.

Yeah hail is a brutal reality of life in Colorado. My wife and I did a hike up by Monument last year and we got to the top of the ridge. I saw some black clouds coming in so we quickly bailed off the peak to get back into the woods. As we worked down we ran into an older couple wearing cotton T-shirts and jeans. I told them to head down as the storm was moving in and they said the forecast said it was heading East. I told them we literally saw the clouds moving in but its their call.

Well, about 20 min later there was a crack of lightning and the rain started pouring down. I always bring rain gear so we were fine and we made it back to the cars. 5 min after getting in the truck the hail started dumping. The hike was extremely technical and steep in even dry conditions and god only knows what happened to that other couple. I checked the news later that day and the next and there was nothing so I assumed they eventually made it down.

I am still trying to figure out the food situation and I think that is a good point. I have gone on backpacking trips before and eaten freeze dried food for days and it really wears on you after a while. We used to say, "You never crap out freeze dried food, it just turns into gas that you constantly fart..."
 

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