How to choose a unit

pioneer1500

Newbie
Joined
Oct 9, 2017
Messages
1
Location
MN
I'm trying to plan my first elk hunt to either Wyoming or Colorado OTC and have been going over the harvest reports for CO. I guess I'm wondering how you guys picked the unit that you hunt. Did you look at success rate? Amount of hunters in the unit? Amount of public land? Did you pick a unit sight unseen?
 

GregB

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2017
Messages
549
Location
Idaho
Harvest reports can be deceptive, if there are a lot of outfitters or private land that gets hunted this can artificially inflate the stats. One of the big things for me is access. Not so few that everyone is getting funneled into the same areas but still have areas that don't have roads. One of the best pieces of advice I heard on here is to pick a state, a unit, and a mountain and go hunt it.
 

Marble

Senior Member
Joined
May 29, 2019
Messages
289
I picked mine based on people I knew and trust spending time in the unit, and them telling me things that you can't really gather from the data or goHunt.
This...

Knowledge of the land you are hunting is king! We are very successful in a unit where most are not. We a few advantages. First we know the land and where to glass to find animals. Second, we have horses and all the stuff to support them. Lastly, we have the entire 9 day season set aside. This give us the chance to recooperate and travel within the unit to get to where others are not.
 

tcatnodak

Newbie
Joined
Apr 13, 2016
Messages
4
Location
Minnesota
Pioneer,

I would first decide what kind of a hunt you want. Are you going after a cow or a bull? If Bull, happy with any bull, or only going to shoot at something really big? Then try and figure out if you are more interested in an open terrain hunt, or want to walk dark timber. Are you in good shape, comfortable traveling long distances on foot and climbing a lot, very comfortable with navigation, etc. There are vast differences in terrain (open/very wooded), steepness or lack thereof that can drastically change things. Much of that information can be gleaned from some google maps looking, but you sorta have to have an idea on what you might enjoy more.

Then certainly all of the factors you mentioned (success rate, public land, number and type of animals taken in the unit, number of hunt days to harvest an animal) can be taken into account to try and help narrow in on a unit also.

Your points or lack thereof come into play also, as without points you would have to pick and easy draw unit and season, or have to hunt OTC on a later season perhaps. Then the unit and elevation come into play again, as weather and what it does to access come into play more as you go later into the year.

Also consider your "lodging" facilities. Are you going to want to camp on the mountain in a tent and be close to the hunt (get some more sleep, but maybe not as good of sleep), or do you want to stay in a hotel in town and get less sleep but are OK with travel time back and forth each day.

If you are new to elk hunting, I would actually recommend that you consider length of season. The first season is shorter in many or all units, even those you can draw without points. But being new, it will take you some time and experience on the ground to just learn the unit and elk. You might have less of a statistical chance (according to hunter statistics) to get an elk in a later season, but having a few days extra (if you have the much time available for vacation) might mean that you personally as a new hunter would have a better chance, since you have more time to learn the unit and how to hunt elk.

Then after all this and you have picked a unit, hunted it next year, didn't get an animal, make sure that you remember it is called hunting for a reason, and the success rate is 15% because it is not easy. Don't dwell on the "I didn't get one this sucked", rather remember all that you learned and how great it was to to just get some exercise outdoors if nothing else.
 

timekiller13

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2015
Messages
421
I just picked one sight unseen and ran with it. You can look at harvest stats until you are blue in the face, but the reality is, almost every OTC unit has about the same success rate, give or take a few points. Any unit that has really high success is either tough draw or has very little public land.
 

kiddogy

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Messages
478
Location
idaho
first and foremost.... are there elk there when I want to hunt it????????????
access ,do I have a reasonable plan to pack out and care for the meat once I do kill?
# of tags ?? unit I am hunting now is a complete shitshow of hunters.
 

CJohnson

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2019
Messages
21
Location
SC
I picked a unit with OTC tags that I could make it to during the summer for a camping trip. As an added bonus, I picked one that many people said wasn't that great, was overcrowded, etc. Got lucky and shot a cow.

I'm a complete rookie at it, but the only advice I would give you is don't spend too much time poking around the internet and work on your fitness.
 

trophyhill

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
725
Location
Tijeras NM
A couple friends previously hunted the OTC unit I've hunted the most. However I did stumble onto a great OTC unit that will remain nameless and I will definitely hunt there again if I don't draw ;)
 

cnelk

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2012
Messages
2,089
Location
N Colorado
First decide what season you will be hunting.

Archery? Are you willing to go up where the elk are at?
Need to hear bugles?
Rifle Seasons? Do you like snow and colder weather and hunt the migration?

Very seldom can you hunt the same spot for different seasons.
I know where I'll be hunting in September, and it wont be the same place if I hunt November.

Make your own success rate
 

Grant K

Newbie
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Messages
9
Location
Ridgway, CO
cnelk nails it... I'd also add that looking at the terrain is helpful, there are units that have no real high country, that doesn't mean hunting will be bad, it just means if you dream of big mountains you will be disappointed, the same thing for late seasons, don't commit to an area that's 90% tall mountains if you are going third or fourth season unless you know it has accessible public down low...
OTC colorado is good for this, you can adjust on the fly if elk aren't where you are you can entirely change the type of country you are hunting...

all that said, some of my best hunts have been essentially throwing a dart at a map and starting at that point, be flexible and hunt hard and you can find elk almost anywhere.
 
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