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  1. #1
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    Hunting during muzzleloader season - dumb question?

    Looking over Colorado elk statistics, specifically total harvested and percent success. Have noticed a few units might have rather low harvest/success for archery but pretty decent for muzzle loader and vice versa. My specific question, since I will be hunting from approximately 9/11-9/20, is if a specific unit has poor to somewhat poor archery harvest/success rates but good muzzle loader harvest/success rates - does it make sense that elk may just be more in that area during muzzle loader and late season archery dates rather than early season archery dates? Or is this more of a public vs private land hunting issue that shows up on the stats? I feel it's a dumb yet valid question at the same time! Curious what your thoughts are on this topic!

    - Keith

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    You may be correct. My guess is that it's mainly because the average hunter is more effective with a muzzleloader than a bow.

    Also look at the harvest breakdown between bulls and cows. It could be that most archers are targeting bulls, while a lot of the muzzleloader harvest could be from cow hunters.

    Lots of factors to consider..

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    Unless the tags are few, it should be harder to find animals during muzzleloader season when it directly follows archery because the animals have been alerted. Bows don't go boom but the presence of large numbers of humans for the first time in many months is disturbing. If there is private land readily available for the elk to move to, that should put downward pressure on muzzle loader harvest rates.

    On the other hand, muzzleloader range is 2X-3X that for bows, so that should be a factor in moving harvest stats up.

    So, how ML rates pan out is going to depend a lot on how many hunters hunt during archery season, the percentage of public land and how readily available it is for the elk to move into. The moon phase might also be a factor, as well ast the timing of the rut.

  4. #4
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    I personally wouldn't put a lot of stock in those stats. You have to remember muzzleloader tags are all draw only. There are no OTC tags. I think there's a big mis conception that the woods are all of a sudden flooded with hunters and there's booms going off all over the place once muzzleloader season opens. In my experience it just isn't so. I hunt both archery and muzzleloader season in different units and ALWAYS see way more archery hunters than muzzleloader. Muzzleloader success in the units that are OTC for archery elk are usually really low too. I would use other factors to determine when and where to go. I haven't hunted every unit in Colorado during this time so I can't say for sure what it's like. I'm speaking from my experience in units I've hunted.

    You might look at the # of muzzleloader tags given out for a particular unit to see what kind of additional pressure there will be in the unit you want to hunt. The statement you made in your OP.. low harvest/success for archery but pretty decent for muzzle loader and vice versa., pretty much say's it all. Especially the vice versa part... who knows for sure?

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  6. #5
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    My personal opinion is that units that have large numbers of archery hunters, generally have lower success rates for M/L hunters. On many occasions I have spent many days scouting areas I wanted to M/L hunt. One particular unit I spent 20 days scouting. When I got there just prior to M/L season opener, it was full of camps and archery hunters. The elk had totally disappeared from the areas I had seen them all summer.

    Just my take............
    Colorado Cowboy
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    "My Father always considered a walk in the mountains as the equivalent of church going."
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    In my experiences most people during the muzzleloader season are trail walkers and the timing of the rut during that season is what I would define as "Awkward".

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    Thanks for the replies, the verdict - who knows! Statistics normally paint somewhat of a clear picture for sports but these Colorado stats are killing me haha! Going to get some information from our Aspen local next week and see what he thinks. Currently have our OTC units narrowed down to 5! Slowly making progress...

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    While you guys are talking about dates. I have a question for you all. My dad and I have OTC archery hunted in southern Colorado 4 times without a shot, but have always been there around September 1-7 give or take a few days. We are set to go there later on this year, after the muzzloader season, Sept 15-22. Is this a smart move?? We are just looking at trying different tactics, and maybe find some more vocal animals.

    My thought is, its not like we are slaying them left and right going in early like we have in the past....

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    Quote Originally Posted by bowrunner View Post
    My thought is, its not like we are slaying them left and right going in early like we have in the past....
    You'll get lots of different opinions on this but I think your statement above say's it all. What do you have to lose? If you don't try it you may never know!

  11. #10
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    Does anyone know how accurate those harvest stats are anyways? Does CO do specific surveys on everyone? A few years ago, I was researching a deer muzzy unit that was showing success rates of like 0-5% for a few years. Talked with a few guys who hunted there and had been successful and they said those stats weren't even close to accurate.

 

 
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