First Elk Hunt

CBartlett

Junior Member
Joined
May 24, 2022
Messages
11
Hello, I am looking into my first elk hunt with my dad, along with two buddies and their dad. We are from the midwest so we won't be able to do any prior scouting, other than e-scouting. We will be looking at a rifle hunt. We are looking at Colorado right now. We have been looking at units 12 and 24 based on harvest numbers but weren't sure if these units usually are densely populated with hunters. Are there other units or states we should look to consider? Any advice on which season to consider or the positives/negatives for each season? We don't have any preference points and would like to do a hunt sooner rather than later so a low point option or OTC would be preferred. We have been looking into the idea of drop camps. The dads have discussed potentially guided while my buddies and I are not looking for a guided hunt, maybe semi-guided. Do drop camps or some outfitters allow for this flexibility? Any recommendations on outfitters or camps?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

3forks

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Oct 4, 2014
Messages
680
Try unit 37 or 371 and PM the guy who started the thread below. Apparently, he’s got some really good spots.

 

S-3 ranch

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 18, 2022
Messages
241
Location
South west Texas & Gulf of Mexico

I hunt west of Trinidad/ east of Chama , October is my favorite part of the year to hunt , go guided for sure till you get the hang of it
 

FlyGuy

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Aug 13, 2016
Messages
1,986
Location
The Woodlands, TX
Hello, I am looking into my first elk hunt with my dad, along with two buddies and their dad. We are from the midwest so we won't be able to do any prior scouting, other than e-scouting. We will be looking at a rifle hunt. We are looking at Colorado right now. We have been looking at units 12 and 24 based on harvest numbers but weren't sure if these units usually are densely populated with hunters. Are there other units or states we should look to consider? Any advice on which season to consider or the positives/negatives for each season? We don't have any preference points and would like to do a hunt sooner rather than later so a low point option or OTC would be preferred. We have been looking into the idea of drop camps. The dads have discussed potentially guided while my buddies and I are not looking for a guided hunt, maybe semi-guided. Do drop camps or some outfitters allow for this flexibility? Any recommendations on outfitters or camps?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Man, I know you don’t know any better, but you are asking questions that are considered “impolite”. Any sort of “where should I hunt” question is Sort of like asking a girl how much she weighs if you know what I mean.

I would recommend you go guided at least the first trip.

If you don’t want to do that, then Honestly just pick a unit. There are elk in all of them. There are too many hunters in all of them. Nowhere is safe from that in the OTC world. Find a unit with terrain that looks manageable for your crew. Be honest with yourself about that too. Narrow it down to a couple and then all things being equal pick the one that is closest. A unit that is 4 hours closer of a drive means 1 extra day of hunting.

Also. Have realistic expectations. It may take you 10 years to kill an elk. Picking the “right” unit isn’t going to be what makes the difference. You just need to go and have a great experience. If you see some elk, you did great. If you kill 1 elk in your party then you’ve done phenomenally well. But mostly you just need to get out there and make mistakes and memories. Enjoy the process. You’ll only ever get one 1st elk hunt.

Best of luck to you and your mates. Would love to hear how it turns out for you.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 
OP
C

CBartlett

Junior Member
Joined
May 24, 2022
Messages
11
Man, I know you don’t know any better, but you are asking questions that are considered “impolite”. Any sort of “where should I hunt” question is Sort of like asking a girl how much she weighs if you know what I mean.

I would recommend you go guided at least the first trip.

If you don’t want to do that, then Honestly just pick a unit. There are elk in all of them. There are too many hunters in all of them. Nowhere is safe from that in the OTC world. Find a unit with terrain that looks manageable for your crew. Be honest with yourself about that too. Narrow it down to a couple and then all things being equal pick the one that is closest. A unit that is 4 hours closer of a drive means 1 extra day of hunting.

Also. Have realistic expectations. It may take you 10 years to kill an elk. Picking the “right” unit isn’t going to be what makes the difference. You just need to go and have a great experience. If you see some elk, you did great. If you kill 1 elk in your party then you’ve done phenomenally well. But mostly you just need to get out there and make mistakes and memories. Enjoy the process. You’ll only ever get one 1st elk hunt.

Best of luck to you and your mates. Would love to hear how it turns out for you.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
Sorry, definitely not trying to ruin people’s hunt spots. I’ll remember that for future threads. But thanks for the input. Good things to think about.
 

Augie

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Apr 21, 2022
Messages
101
For your first time going out west on an elk hunt pick a unit that has lots of road access and hunt from the truck. As a newbie what you really need is exposure to elk, driving around glassing and shutting the truck off listening for bugles will give you the best chance at that. Day hunting from the truck allows you to also be much more comfortable at night and save a ton of money not needing high end lightweight camping gear for the backcountry. Backpack hunting the backcountry has been romanticized a lot lately and to anyone unexperienced it can be not only a major hinderance to your success but also dangerous in certain circumstances. My main thoughts are this... going guided will be the best way for you to punch a tag so to speak and get a general idea of what you need to do in order to find and kill elk, but it comes at a high cost. Next best option is to go the cheap route and day hunt from the truck in a unit that has good road access. As a first timer it's unlikely but not impossible for you to have several good interactions with elk and get a shot opportunity. If you were going to go the drop camp option I would choose to wait until you have more experience and build up for a better draw unit, because once you get dropped off that's where you are hunting whether there are 100 elk or zero. There isn't a western state that currently offers better hunt opportunity for elk than Colorado while also being a reasonably cheap tag compared to several others. With the way some other western states are going in terms of drawing tags, I'd try to soak up as much knowledge in Colorado as you can while it's still an OTC opportunity.
 

svivian

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Messages
1,230
Location
Colorado
Hello, I am looking into my first elk hunt with my dad, along with two buddies and their dad. We are from the midwest so we won't be able to do any prior scouting, other than e-scouting. We will be looking at a rifle hunt. We are looking at Colorado right now. We have been looking at units 12 and 24 based on harvest numbers but weren't sure if these units usually are densely populated with hunters. Are there other units or states we should look to consider? Any advice on which season to consider or the positives/negatives for each season? We don't have any preference points and would like to do a hunt sooner rather than later so a low point option or OTC would be preferred. We have been looking into the idea of drop camps. The dads have discussed potentially guided while my buddies and I are not looking for a guided hunt, maybe semi-guided. Do drop camps or some outfitters allow for this flexibility? Any recommendations on outfitters or camps?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
You have already answered your first question. IF you are looking at harvest data and its leading you to those units do you think you are the only one?

#2 no one is going to tell you what unit to hunt, that's for you to figure out the hard way like everyone else.

#3 pay the price of tuition... either pay a guide/outfitter or with boots on the ground with no success.

Elk hunting is alot of fun no matter what unit you are in or how successful you are. Its always worth it to go regardless the outcome. Good luck
 

Gerbdog

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
562
Location
CO Springs
Its been beat to death but read over the forums, tons of information for these exact questions. Money or time or both in some many cases.... elk hunting isnt easy. Some folks luck out the first year, some folks take 10 years, some folks get it quick, some folks dont. You may stumble into a honey hole your first trip out. You may not. Next year the honey hole has 5 other hunters in it.

If you can swing it, a guided service is gonna give you a ton of learning opportunities. It's gonna cost you a good chunk of change.

Going it alone to save money will give you learning experiences as well ,you just may not see as many elk as you *may* if you go guided. Then again you could be up to your knees in elk.

So many variables, so much good advice out there, and no wrong way to do it.

Nike: "just do it" - some point in the last 30 years

A few things that are guaranteed to make your first trip better: Get in damn good shape. If you think your in "good" shape, push a little further and get in "really good" shape. Good boots you have broken in.
 

EJDXT21

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 29, 2021
Messages
109
Location
Kingwood, TX
Hello, I am looking into my first elk hunt with my dad, along with two buddies and their dad. We are from the midwest so we won't be able to do any prior scouting, other than e-scouting. We will be looking at a rifle hunt. We are looking at Colorado right now. We have been looking at units 12 and 24 based on harvest numbers but weren't sure if these units usually are densely populated with hunters. Are there other units or states we should look to consider? Any advice on which season to consider or the positives/negatives for each season? We don't have any preference points and would like to do a hunt sooner rather than later so a low point option or OTC would be preferred. We have been looking into the idea of drop camps. The dads have discussed potentially guided while my buddies and I are not looking for a guided hunt, maybe semi-guided. Do drop camps or some outfitters allow for this flexibility? Any recommendations on outfitters or camps?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I did my first Elk hunt last year in those units. PM me and I'll be happy to give you my input.

@FlyGuy I'm in Kingwood, not too far from you in the Woodlands. What are you doing for preparation on your hunts. I plan to go do some hikes in the Sam Houston National forest in the coming months. PM me if you'd like we can discuss it further.
 

FlyGuy

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Aug 13, 2016
Messages
1,986
Location
The Woodlands, TX
I did my first Elk hunt last year in those units. PM me and I'll be happy to give you my input.

@FlyGuy I'm in Kingwood, not too far from you in the Woodlands. What are you doing for preparation on your hunts. I plan to go do some hikes in the Sam Houston National forest in the coming months. PM me if you'd like we can discuss it further.

Hey bud, I primarily do CrossFit, but I also supplement with some pack training, mtn biking, trail running. All that stuff gets rough in the summers though. Haha!

I’ll send you a PM.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

Praynprey

Junior Member
Joined
May 27, 2022
Messages
12
For your first time going out west on an elk hunt pick a unit that has lots of road access and hunt from the truck. As a newbie what you really need is exposure to elk, driving around glassing and shutting the truck off listening for bugles will give you the best chance at that. Day hunting from the truck allows you to also be much more comfortable at night and save a ton of money not needing high end lightweight camping gear for the backcountry. Backpack hunting the backcountry has been romanticized a lot lately and to anyone unexperienced it can be not only a major hinderance to your success but also dangerous in certain circumstances. My main thoughts are this... going guided will be the best way for you to punch a tag so to speak and get a general idea of what you need to do in order to find and kill elk, but it comes at a high cost. Next best option is to go the cheap route and day hunt from the truck in a unit that has good road access. As a first timer it's unlikely but not impossible for you to have several good interactions with elk and get a shot opportunity. If you were going to go the drop camp option I would choose to wait until you have more experience and build up for a better draw unit, because once you get dropped off that's where you are hunting whether there are 100 elk or zero. There isn't a western state that currently offers better hunt opportunity for elk than Colorado while also being a reasonably cheap tag compared to several others. With the way some other western states are going in terms of drawing tags, I'd try to soak up as much knowledge in Colorado as you can while it's still an OTC opportunity.
Is this advice applicable to archery as well? Could totally see this with a muzzleloader but curious if this tactic changes with archery equipment?
 

Gerbdog

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
562
Location
CO Springs
Is this advice applicable to archery as well? Could totally see this with a muzzleloader but curious if this tactic changes with archery equipment?
Yes thats solid advice for archery as well, and really any western hunting. You should know an area pretty well before you commit to it, and then know the area well enough to tell whether the animals are there or not and be ready to move if they arent. If you dont know any areas then its good to keep moving in a unit until you find animals and this will also help you learn the unit better.
 

Ucsdryder

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 24, 2015
Messages
3,319
Harvest numbers huh? Don’t those come from the “voluntary” self reporting? Let me ask you a question. If you had a unit that you did well in and wanted to keep it as quiet as possible, in the day and age of the internet where nothing is really quiet, how do you think you’d go about filling out those VOLUNTARY harvest reports?
 

Hoyt Ag

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2022
Messages
34
I know 12 very well as it is where I hunt every other year. I have guided it a few times, but I am mainly in 11/22 working. Feel free to message me if you want to chat.
 

grizzlyshark

Newbie
Joined
Jul 9, 2022
Messages
7
I solo hunted those units last year 2nd rifle. I started by joining the crowds and going deep down many different trails. You will be competing with crews with pack horses and wall tents smoking cigarettes moving along the trails. It rained, snowed, melted and was muddy every day and repeated like clockwork. If you are camping anywhere away from the truck, I recommend a packable wood stove. I stumbled across 2 bulls in the gnarliest, nastiest, thick stuff on a SW facing hill and saw muley does and bucks as well on timber edges at about 8500 ft. I had a cow tag and finally spotted some on day 4 by driving down a few country roads and staying with the truck, glassing some wide open fields

be safe out there, as it was snowing and melting all creeks I crossed were raging rapid rivers when I would return from a few days out camping. big sketch. Day 7 those ankles were a little shakey.
 

Dos Perros

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jul 30, 2015
Messages
3,508
Location
Lenexa, KS
We are from the midwest so we won't be able to do any prior scouting, other than e-scouting.

Hello fellow Midwesterner. I've been west 3 times already this summer, once purely dedicated to scouting, and will go another time or two in August. You can do it!
 
Top