OTC CO Expectations

WilliamDale

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
14
Hey guys. New member from Alabama looking for someone willing to give up their secret spots with as much details as possible….just kidding.

My real question is question is what to expect from a first time elk hunt on Public in an OTC Colorado unit. Not looking for specific units or tactics just general input. I’ve been building points in a few states but understand it won’t matter if I draw the best unit in the best state if I don’t know up from down when I see a mountain that has elk on it for first time. I know I need to gain experience, I plan on doing that by spending a some years hunting OTC tags. I won’t make my first hunt until 2022. Im not new to hunting in general but will be completely new to the elk woods. Thanks for any input look forward to reading about some of y’all’s first times in the elk woods.
 

Rob5589

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2014
Messages
3,989
Location
W Sac CA
Welcome! I was in your boots 4 years ago. My expectations were to learn all I could, hunt hard, and enjoy myself. Finally killed one on year four and my expectations haven't changed. Good luck!
 

isocyanate

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2020
Messages
161
Heading out for my first this year. While an elk is not a whitetail deer, it is a mammal…People, food, water, security , and females. Somewhere between all that is where I should find them…

Edited to add human pressure...
 
Last edited:

ForrestHorsehunter

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2019
Messages
23
Location
Idaho
You'll most likely run into, see, or hear other hunters every day. Even so, that doesn't mean you'll have a bad hunt.

Some of my buddies archery hunted for the first time last year so i joined to help out. We hunted an OTC Colorado unit and ran into, or called in hunters every day in a spot that i picked. Meaning it was a the type of country people typically like to avoid yet there was young guys out there charging this thick steep stuff. A couple guys even came straight up a couple thousand vertical from the bottom which blew my mind. I'm in crazy good shape and I wouldn't even attempt that, much less to be there by 7am. Never the less everyone enjoyed the hunt.

I can't imagine how crowded an OTC rifle hunt would be though.
 
OP
WilliamDale

WilliamDale

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
14
Heading out for my first this year. While an elk is not a whitetail deer, it is a mammal…People, food, water, security , and females. Somewhere between all that is where I should find them…

Edited to add human pressure...
Cool be reading up on e-scouting and terrain features to look for. I’ve deer hunted since I could walk but spend most of off days chasing turkeys. Elk sounds too fun to not try though. Also every time I have been out west fishing I keep saying I have to come back for elk!
 

Dos Perros

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2015
Messages
2,741
Location
Lenexa, KS
Haven't hunted CO OTC since 2017 so understand some things have changed.

We definitely have ran into some folks, but I think there are places you can go to get away from them. I think after you know what you're doing you should expect to see/get into elk most days. Should probably expect to get your butt kicked physically. Water can be scarce depending where you are, it plays a major part in hunt plans, deciding where to camp, where to hunt, which elk you can go after and can't, etc. I think regardless of the unit you should expect to see some beautiful country. Expect to be humbled -- it's always harder than you thought it would be. If your attitude allows, you should expect to find some deep gratitude for the opportunity.
 
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WilliamDale

WilliamDale

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
14
You'll most likely run into, see, or hear other hunters every day. Even so, that doesn't mean you'll have a bad hunt.

Some of my buddies archery hunted for the first time last year so i joined to help out. We hunted an OTC Colorado unit and ran into, or called in hunters every day in a spot that i picked. Meaning it was a the type of country people typically like to avoid yet there was young guys out there charging this thick steep stuff. A couple guys even came straight up a couple thousand vertical from the bottom which blew my mind. I'm in crazy good shape and I wouldn't even attempt that, much less to be there by 7am. Never the less everyone enjoyed the hunt.

I can't imagine how crowded an OTC rifle hunt would be though.
I figured I would be running into lots of people. I’m actually a little nervous about messing an elk up someone else was on without knowing it. Definitely been reading some of the etiquette posts I have found on here.

Love the mountains though and am looking forward to spending a week or 2 camping and spending time out there for sure!
 
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WilliamDale

WilliamDale

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
14
Haven't hunted CO OTC since 2017 so understand some things have changed.

We definitely have ran into some folks, but I think there are places you can go to get away from them. I think after you know what you're doing you should expect to see/get into elk most days. Should probably expect to get your butt kicked physically. Water can be scarce depending where you are, it plays a major part in hunt plans, deciding where to camp, where to hunt, which elk you can go after and can't, etc. I think regardless of the unit you should expect to see some beautiful country. Expect to be humbled -- it's always harder than you thought it would be. If your attitude allows, you should expect to find some deep gratitude for the opportunity.
The physical part has been on my mind for sure. As of today the most demanding day outside for me was 6.5 miles in and 6.5 back out in the same day with 3k elevation change from 7k to 10k. That was with a light pack and a fly rod though. Plan to know my limits though and that may keep me a couple miles from a campground or trailhead knowing if I’m just dumb enough to get luckily and have one fall into my lap I have to get it out.
 

ndforbes

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2015
Messages
49
Location
Colorado
As people have said, expect to run into other hunters. There is always someone willing to go into the deepest, darkest places, so complete solitude is tough to come by. If you just keep a positive attitude, give other hunters some space, and keep working hard, you will have a blast. One tip I would offer is do your best to use hunting pressure to your advantage. Try to figure out where they will go when the do get bumped or pressured and spend your time looking for those places.
 
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WilliamDale

WilliamDale

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
14
As people have said, expect to run into other hunters. There is always someone willing to go into the deepest, darkest places, so complete solitude is tough to come by. If you just keep a positive attitude, give other hunters some space, and keep working hard, you will have a blast. One tip I would offer is do your best to use hunting pressure to your advantage. Try to figure out where they will go when the do get bumped or pressured and spend your time looking for those places.
Hopefully I will be able to figure some things out about elk tendencies, fully understand they don’t ever have to do the same thing twice, and can use it in the future. Do you think the guys that own the private the elk head to would mind a first year hunter roaming around? Just kidding.

Attitude is always at 100% while hunting. Take it too seriously and I personally lose the fun. Looking forward to spending time in the woods with my brother and maybe another friend or 2.
 

Dos Perros

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2015
Messages
2,741
Location
Lenexa, KS
The physical part has been on my mind for sure. As of today the most demanding day outside for me was 6.5 miles in and 6.5 back out in the same day with 3k elevation change from 7k to 10k. That was with a light pack and a fly rod though. Plan to know my limits though and that may keep me a couple miles from a campground or trailhead knowing if I’m just dumb enough to get luckily and have one fall into my lap I have to get it out.

I tried to never let where I'd kill one bother me. It's probably unwise to think like that, but have a outfitter/packer lined up and kill wherever you can. When I say lined up, I mean you've talked to the guy, told him the dates and drainages you'll be hunting, and established how you'll get ahold of him (like texting his cell from your InReach). I'd call him a day or two ahead or during your drive just to verify he's ready.
 

Fullfan

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2016
Messages
580
Location
Nw/Pa
Well you will not be alone. With the fall back state of Idaho screwing up the nonresident tags, Co is the only state left with OTC elk tags. You can prob figure out the rest. Good luck
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

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Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
1,281
If you want to accelerate the learning curve, you may want to consider doing a guided hunt. You can learn more in a week with them than a few years of wandering around on your own.

But we all place a different value on our time and have different priorities.
 
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WilliamDale

WilliamDale

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
14
If you want to accelerate the learning curve, you may want to consider doing a guided hunt. You can learn more in a week with them than a few years of wandering around on your own.

But we all place a different value on our time and have different priorities.
I have always thought that is what I would do for my first elk hunt. Throughout my 20’s I said I would save and do it in my early thirties. Of course as time went on I got married, had 2 children, started a new business, bought a bigger house etc etc. I started to re-think on how I wanted to approach it once I hit my early 30’s. Now I think I may want to do it in my own a few times for a handful of reasons.
1) Even with a guide I would want to have some experience especially if I was fortunate to draw a better unit somewhere. I wouldn’t want to spend money on that tool until I felt I had at least some competence.
2) I am looking for an experience as much as anything. Filling a tag of any kind is always a plus and objective, but not the only reason I hunt.
 

AZ_Hunter_2000

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Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
1,281
I have always thought that is what I would do for my first elk hunt. Throughout my 20’s I said I would save and do it in my early thirties. Of course as time went on I got married, had 2 children, started a new business, bought a bigger house etc etc. I started to re-think on how I wanted to approach it once I hit my early 30’s. Now I think I may want to do it in my own a few times for a handful of reasons.
1) Even with a guide I would want to have some experience especially if I was fortunate to draw a better unit somewhere. I wouldn’t want to spend money on that tool until I felt I had at least some competence.
2) I am looking for an experience as much as anything. Filling a tag of any kind is always a plus and objective, but not the only reason I hunt.
No worries and I totally understand.

I view the outfitter/guide fees as an educational expense and not necessarily a direct hunting expense. I can ask a ton of questions in the field and get instant feedback which I can then apply immediately; these questions are not solely related to the target species but can include other species in the area. This helps with DIY hunting that species in general and/or that specific area in the future.

For years I regularly got my rear handed to me while doing DIY black bear hunts in AZ. Every spring and fall I’d give it a go. Had fun but ate a lot of tag soup. Enough was enough so I did a guided hunt. Learned more in 5 days than literally months of going it alone over the years. Some of the best money that I’ve ever spent.
 
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WilliamDale

WilliamDale

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2021
Messages
14
No worries and I totally understand.

I view the outfitter/guide fees as an educational expense and not necessarily a direct hunting expense. I can ask a ton of questions in the field and get instant feedback which I can then apply immediately; these questions are not solely related to the target species but can include other species in the area. This helps with DIY hunting that species in general and/or that specific area in the future.

For years I regularly got my rear handed to me while doing DIY black bear hunts in AZ. Every spring and fall I’d give it a go. Had fun but ate a lot of tag soup. Enough was enough so I did a guided hunt. Learned more in 5 days than literally months of going it alone over the years. Some of the best money that I’ve ever spent.
Do you think the lessons learned going it alone for however many years you did played a roll in your success once you hired a guide the first time? I truly understand the value added by hiring a guide. I don’t do it often but have hired fishing guides. I still normally tried it first and sometimes with success. I normally only hire a guide when I don’t have something I need to make it possible, I.e. a flats boat for tarpon or drift boat for steelhead in Idaho.
 
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