Unit 61 Colorado

brimow

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Colorado
Greetings everyone. Season opener is getting close. I hold a unit 61 archery tag for this year and am very pumped about this season. I will be heading into the unit for my first time over the next couple of weeks. Looking to hear anything from anyone that has been in the unit this summer. How are conditions? Precipitation? Any scouting images? Just getting excited about September and wondering what is going on out there. Feel free to pm if you don’t feel like sharing publicly. I will do the same after I get my feet in the dirt out there.

I am planning on hunting the first week and then from the end of muzzle to the end. Hit me up if you are hunting and need any help (packing, vehicle, etc). I will mostly be solo but very willing to help anyone else out during the month.

Shoot straight!
 
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brimow

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Colorado
The Monsoons have hit the Unc pretty hard as of late, I haven’t been up there in 4 weeks, it was incredibly dry then.
Thanks Fred. Planning on a quick run over that way tomorrow and check out some of the areas.
 

jray5740

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2017
Messages
262
Location
Colorado
Hope my .02 helps you here. I hunted 61 in 2019 for bear, but I was keenly aware of what it might be like to hunt elk there and took some notes along the way. What I saw was hard country to glass very far during summer months....I bet as the fall sets in and leaves fall from trees it becomes significantly easier to sit up high and look around. I also found that alot of game prefer the south half of the unit in lieu of the north half....this was my observations after about a week there. This by no means dosent mean no game up north, but there was a significant amount of camping/atv/recreation activity north compared to south and I think that had alot to do with it. All of my e scouting spots had people in them either recreating or hunting, which led me to believe I simply wasnt working hard enough to get to where I needed to be.....and in 61, it will feel like you are working hard because alot of it is very steep and thick. Overall my impression is I know exactly why bears are heavy in this unit....lots of oak brush/berry.....which confused me when it comes to elk quality here as that is generally not what they prefer, however there is also alot of aspen country and from people I talked to there, the elk do frequent the oak brush as it is great cover and cooler in the shade no doubt.

You should not have an issue finding water, at least in my experience. I would stay as far from Divide Road as I could if I were you. Watch Randy Newberg on youtube hunt 61...great visual, but remember its way harder to see/glass with live summer trees/buses than late fall. If you have an atv bring it.....to get you to the end of a trail where you should definately work from there on foot to get to your spots. This area seems to draw a mass amount of people who camp/ride/make alot of noise and leave alot of human scent.......get away from it. The elk hunting should be great! I did see a few good ones looking down into oak brush from higher up.....there one minute gone the next type of deal.
 

1982davew

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
Messages
12
Hope my .02 helps you here. I hunted 61 in 2019 for bear, but I was keenly aware of what it might be like to hunt elk there and took some notes along the way. What I saw was hard country to glass very far during summer months....I bet as the fall sets in and leaves fall from trees it becomes significantly easier to sit up high and look around. I also found that alot of game prefer the south half of the unit in lieu of the north half....this was my observations after about a week there. This by no means dosent mean no game up north, but there was a significant amount of camping/atv/recreation activity north compared to south and I think that had alot to do with it. All of my e scouting spots had people in them either recreating or hunting, which led me to believe I simply wasnt working hard enough to get to where I needed to be.....and in 61, it will feel like you are working hard because alot of it is very steep and thick. Overall my impression is I know exactly why bears are heavy in this unit....lots of oak brush/berry.....which confused me when it comes to elk quality here as that is generally not what they prefer, however there is also alot of aspen country and from people I talked to there, the elk do frequent the oak brush as it is great cover and cooler in the shade no doubt.

You should not have an issue finding water, at least in my experience. I would stay as far from Divide Road as I could if I were you. Watch Randy Newberg on youtube hunt 61...great visual, but remember its way harder to see/glass with live summer trees/buses than late fall. If you have an atv bring it.....to get you to the end of a trail where you should definately work from there on foot to get to your spots. This area seems to draw a mass amount of people who camp/ride/make alot of noise and leave alot of human scent.......get away from it. The elk hunting should be great! I did see a few good ones looking down into oak brush from higher up.....there one minute gone the next type of deal.
Absolutely spot on. Take this advice and hunt hard and you will find them. Up north looks picture perfect but can be almost completely void of elk except for a few reliable places that are nasty to hunt
 

Phaseolus

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2018
Messages
742
Location
Palisade, Colorado
Seems like the bull draw fire would have burned a lot of that nastiness.
Most of the Bull draw fire was lower than the hunting season habitat, it also covered a tiny part of the unit. Re-growth of brush is also pretty thick, you won’t be just walking across Little Johnson.
 
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brimow

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Colorado
I got into the unit this weekend. Man it is huge. Stayed mostly on the south end off of the divide road. Not much for sign but only was off trail for a bit. Put over 60 miles on the quad and probably the same in the truck due to the rain. Glad I got out there but man I am really scratching my head on where to start.

the terrain varies so much from the divide road to the bottom. Cattle are everywhere.

I did kick up a group of cows and calves Saturday night just off one of the trails.

gotta get back to the e scouting.
 

Grant K

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Messages
40
Location
Ridgway, CO
Cattle don't matter much in 61, if you are seeing them you are probably in the elk zone...
it's for sure tough to glass at this time of year, what I would say is don't waste too much time looking for small groups of elk, when the rut gets going you will probably be finding the bigger bulls with the big herds, it can seem like there are no elk and once you find the right basin there will be 200 in it, I'd cover ground fast until you find one of the big herds.
my opinion is that the south end tends to have more elk but the biggest bulls usually come out of the north end, I wouldn't worry much about the recreationist, pretty much none of them are dropping off into the canyons where the elk are hanging out, I don't think I have ever seen a non-hunter off of a road or trail in 61 and I've spent a ton of time in there.
 

11boo

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2016
Messages
873
Location
Grand Jct, CO
You put a lot of miles in on the rubber, next time start burning boot leather and you will get into elk. That place has a bunch.
 
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brimow

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Colorado
You put a lot of miles in on the rubber, next time start burning boot leather and you will get into elk. That place has a bunch.
Yes, I did a bunch of time on the rubber because I had limited time available and had never been in the unit until this weekend. My intent was to try and get an overall "feel" of the section I was in and then put boots where I had some folks suggest previously. I never worry about seeing elk while scouting. I would have liked to seen more sign that I was exploring the right areas. Next time will be a day or 2 ahead of season and then my focus will be on getting into the elk.
 

Aruggles

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2019
Messages
11
Cattle don't matter much in 61, if you are seeing them you are probably in the elk zone...
it's for sure tough to glass at this time of year, what I would say is don't waste too much time looking for small groups of elk, when the rut gets going you will probably be finding the bigger bulls with the big herds, it can seem like there are no elk and once you find the right basin there will be 200 in it, I'd cover ground fast until you find one of the big herds.
my opinion is that the south end tends to have more elk but the biggest bulls usually come out of the north end, I wouldn't worry much about the recreationist, pretty much none of them are dropping off into the canyons where the elk are hanging out, I don't think I have ever seen a non-hunter off of a road or trail in 61 and I've spent a ton of time in there.
Why does the south end of the unit tend to have more elk?
 

Grant K

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Messages
40
Location
Ridgway, CO
Why does the south end of the unit tend to have more elk?
Not entirely sure what a biologist would say, my guess is that it is more friendly habitat to the south, the north end is largely big canyons at the elevation where elk are summering, plenty of cover, and food is available but it's definitely less ideal for large numbers of animals, the south has a better variety of habitat, more benches with food and water, and some big flats and mesas that offer easier living than the steep zones to the north...
all of those are also probably reasons that big bulls tend toward the north, it's harder to make a living but much less human disturbance.
 
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brimow

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Colorado
Cattle don't matter much in 61, if you are seeing them you are probably in the elk zone...
it's for sure tough to glass at this time of year, what I would say is don't waste too much time looking for small groups of elk, when the rut gets going you will probably be finding the bigger bulls with the big herds, it can seem like there are no elk and once you find the right basin there will be 200 in it, I'd cover ground fast until you find one of the big herds.
my opinion is that the south end tends to have more elk but the biggest bulls usually come out of the north end, I wouldn't worry much about the recreationist, pretty much none of them are dropping off into the canyons where the elk are hanging out, I don't think I have ever seen a non-hunter off of a road or trail in 61 and I've spent a ton of time in there.
Good to hear on the cattle. Some of the areas I hunt over on this side can get run over with cattle and when the grass goes the elk find "greener" pastures which can mean a different drainage and even a different unit.

My goal for this tag is opportunity. Getting into elk and getting a chance to make something happen. I have zero trophy expectations. I spent my points to be in elk. I won't take a rag horn the first trip out but I am also not holding out for a "big" bull. 2nd trip out if needed will be a different story for that rag horn!

I don't worry about the recreationalists, except maybe them taking all the good camping sites! I don't know if it was the weather or what but I saw virtually no one out there this weekend. I drove for miles on the divide road Sunday morning and didn't pass another person. Was actually a little worried that if I had a problem it was going to be a long walk to find some help.
 
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