How long would you give a zone?

Rob5589

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Sep 6, 2014
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489
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CA
Here are the details: 2017, first time elk hunting. Saw elk, including few nice bulls, never got close enough for a shot. Did little to no calling as I was out of my element and didn't fully delve into how to hunt elk until 2018. Which brings up 2018; terrible, saw one cow, almost no bugling heard, never saw another elk after the 2nd day out of 8. 2019; I dove head first, read and researched, trained, game planned, felt I was good to go. Unfortunately, my partner was not. Not only did he not have an elk tag, our plan to pack in hunt and move as necessary, wasn't grasped by him. So, I had to re-plan on the way up. Got one bull close but wouldn't commit. I was pumped though as it was the closest I have gotten so far. Saw another bull a ways off but it was pretty dead after that. The week prior another bud was up there and bulls were going nuts, and although they never connected, they had opportunity.
So my dilemma is, do I give the area another go or move on? Year 1 I chalk up to rookie mistakes; 2 poor opportunities and weather; 3 what I believed to be solid plan that was scrapped at the last minute and a new one thrown together. Another issue, and major in my opinion, is that both hunters have to be committed to elk, and elk only, to potentially be successful. Even though I made it abundantly clear I was elk hunting, I caught a bunch of grief for not "equaling" the time for deer as well (he had deer tag only).
In my head I really believe that I can go at it even harder and maybe kill an elk ( I will shoot any elk ). But of course that may be just me being overly optimistic. I also found some great looking spots I marked on my OnX. For reference, I have been hunting 76/66A (archery) in Idaho which has good elk numbers and average to slightly above average success rates.
So what do you guys think? Hit it again? Move on? Take up needlepoint?

Thanks a ton
 

LivetohuntID

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Jul 5, 2018
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270
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North Idaho
I give an area a couple days if I'm not seeing elk or any sign. Now an entire zone? You could hunt a zone for 30 years and still not know a lot of it. Grass isn't always greener in another zone. You at least know the lay of the land where you've been going.
 

trophyhill

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Feb 27, 2012
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725
Location
Tijeras NM
Look. You obviously sound dedicated or "committed". Go it alone if you have to. Forget those bozos. Hunting with partners who aren't on the same page is a recipe for a bad hunt. The hardest part of hunting solo is packing an elk out. But so rewarding when you get home and say you've done it yourself.
 

sndmn11

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Mar 28, 2017
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987
Location
Littleton, Colorado
The "zone" is not the problem, your inexperience is. The animals don't fall into your lap any easier elsewhere. Spend time learning escape routes, hidey holes, and overlooked places and your success will be better. One would argue that an inexperienced person would learn those types of places best by spending several consecutive seasons in the same area.
 

cnelk

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Mar 1, 2012
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2,089
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N Colorado
Like fishing, never leave elk to find elk.

I’ve hunted the same 150sq miles for 30 years and each year I find new things about it.

Learn it. Learn it like the back of your hand. Forget the the obvious spots, look at the not so obvious.

You’ll do fine pilgrim.
 
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Rob5589

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Sep 6, 2014
Messages
489
Location
CA
All great stuff, thanks for the reassurance.
 

Wrench

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Aug 23, 2018
Messages
954
Location
WA
Stop hunting areas and start hunting elk. Your luck will change greatly. You're figuring out areas they'll be in.....but now learn why and how.

A lame pard is just one more scent bomb to screw it up. A good pard is priceless.
 

cgasner1

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Mar 12, 2015
Messages
180
Sounds like you guys went with different things in mind a solid hunting partner is hard to find Id have a easier time finding a wife that a new hunting partner go solo if you have to all my best animals killed solo have yet to go out of state solo but with the point game I’m playing the time will come and when it does I’ll be all over it


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wildwilderness

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Mar 1, 2017
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CO to AK
Sounds like you aren’t doing nearly enough scouting. I Often spend more time in the summer finding elk and learning the zone than actually hunting most years. You need to find elk. I also mostly go solo. If I do hunt with someone else who has a tag it’s generally just sharing a camp- we hunt separate, but can help with a pack out. If I have a good tag I will recruit people to help (call) who aren’t hunting.
 
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Rob5589

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Sep 6, 2014
Messages
489
Location
CA
Sounds like you aren’t doing nearly enough scouting. I Often spend more time in the summer finding elk and learning the zone than actually hunting most years. You need to find elk. I also mostly go solo. If I do hunt with someone else who has a tag it’s generally just sharing a camp- we hunt separate, but can help with a pack out. If I have a good tag I will recruit people to help (call) who aren’t hunting.
For sure. I just don't have the extra time available for CA --> ID scouting trips. Definitely would if I could.
 

Indian Summer

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Joined
Feb 17, 2013
Messages
97
There are lots of “elkless elk hunts”. Sometimes the area sucks. Sometimes it’s a lack of experience. No matter where you hunt there are guys killing bulls in the same place that others never saw an elk. Think about that. If you stick with elk hunting you’ll look back and realize that other than having a partner that wasn’t on the same page you did fairly well. To expect to kill an elk on your first hunt or two with no experience and no actual boots on the ground knowledge of the area is just not realistic. It’d be different if you were hunting it with a friend who had been there before. To switch areas is to be a complete rookie again. Instead take the things you’ve learned and go back armed with that knowledge and make some changes. Like cnelk said after 35 years I still learn things every single year. Every day! That’s elk hunting. It’s a long term thing not fast food. I think most hunters look at pictures of 6 point bulls and say man I’d like to hunt/kill one of those! But it’s definitely not for everyone and if it was easy everyone would be doing it. You gotta be able to handle getting your ass kicked without ever thinking of giving up.

If it makes you feel any better I can tell you that once you kill a couple things come together and it gets easier. Good luck!
 
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Michael54

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2019
Messages
280
You found elk. Now it sounds like you just have to figure out how to get closer to them for a shot. Sounds like you had a partner issue more than a zone issue IMO. On a bright note you have accomplished more than most that drive west to diy hunt. Good luck next year!
 

87TT

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Mar 13, 2019
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806
Location
Idaho
I think elk can smell "new" guy sometimes. I had some close encounters the first year that I wasn't able to close the deal that were my best ones yet. I'm sure they laughed at me. Like was said, never leave elk to find them. Work on your skills (shooting , calling, stalking etc.). It will come Grasshopper.
 

Z Barebow

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Joined
May 24, 2012
Messages
75
Don't overreact. If you are hunting elk, you are more than 50% of the way there. Hunting for elk takes much more work and it sounds like that isn't the issue.

I struck out for the second time in the zone I hunted. (Only hunted it two years) I have not drawn my bow back in ~ 28 days of combined hunting. Once home I was cyber scouting within a week. The elk are there. I am getting dialed in/sharpening my plan of attack based upon what I have learned! This is a general/OTC zone/unit. There aren't many "diamond" OTC units. (If there are, they don't "shine" for long!)
 
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