Unit 161 - OTC Elk
Has anyone ever hunted this unit? our plans keep getting changed for next falls hunt. We finally settled on an OTC elk bowhunt. Mostly because some of us may have to bow out last minute due to family/work commitments and do not want to have money invested in a tag. we have 4 to our party. We are also on a time crunch and we know we wont have a full 10 days like we had wanted, so it will be a more abbreviated hunt (at least for 2 of us 4) so we are looking for places closer to our home state of Wisconsin.
I looked into the routt NF, and saw this unit. Havent done a ton of research yet and have to look into the mRS on this unit, but was tentatively looking at the zirkel wilderness area.
any thoughts or suggestions?
I wish we had more time.....and if we did I would be looking at a different area.........but it is what it is. a short elk hunt is better than no elk hunt!
any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I assume you are talking about Colorado? I didnt know it was close to Wisconsin. lol. I have never hunted that area but I think on an archery elk hunt I would want to have plenty of time to hunt.
I agree with Musket Man, hard to do any Elk hunt on just a few days. I would want minimum 5, unless I was hoping for nothing more than the experience. I know a guy who hunts over in the Routt and they always see a fair amount of Elk. However they have been hunting the area for over 6 years. Have you guys hunted Elk before?
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Even 5 days would be very short with 4 hunters on an OTC archery hunt in a new area. I think I would want closer to 10. OTC elk are a whole different game then deer or antelope. With limited time I would rather go without a tag and do some scouting for another year and enjoy some new country. No pressure to try to fill a tag in a hurry and have a good time. If I really wanted to hunt something with only a few days to do it I would hunt antelope.
I have hunted 161 in Colorado 3 times. Once on a rifle hunt the other two times were bow hunts. The first time was rifle hunting out of the Big Creek lake camp ground. The 3 of us never saw an elk. There was lots of Old Elk sign though. The next year I and a friend packed in on my mules to the Seven Lakes area on a 5 day bow hunt. Seven lakes is in the Mt. ZIRKLE Wilderness area. Very beautiful, but never saw or heard an Elk. The following year we parked at the Encampment River trail head and packed in for 7 days with my mules. Again we never saw or heard an Elk, but we ran into to other hunters who had killed a 5x5 earler in the week. They said the Elk were bugeling like crazy a week before we got there. All these hunts were still great adventures, even though we didnt kill anything. Our problem was we didnt have enough time for these hunts as we always had to return home for work. I plan on returning there again for a bow hunt in the next couple years or so for another bow hunt now that I have time.
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I have hunted elk a couple of times. shot a cow in the northern bighorns by burgess junction. also hunted kind of by Afton once as well right by the Idaho border. too hot that year. elk were all up into Idaho. had 1 good bull I was trying to get in close, but he was having none of it and led his harem 0ver the border and out of wyo.
I know it is not ideal by any means having only 5 days to hunt, maybe 6 (probably a leave sat and be back on the next sunday hunt), and a couple guys will probably stay longer b/c they have more vaca time. but 10 days of hunting or more just isn't in the cards for me this year, heck I am not sure if I can work out a sat to next sun hunt. and it is either this hunt or no hunt at all. hunting in Wisconsin sucks unless you own land, which I dont. I would hate to miss an entire year.
so yes, this would be more of gaining more experience / scouting for future hunts.
Colorado isn't close to Wisconsin per say......but it is closer than Idaho or western Montana! so "close" is in the eye of the beholder! hahaha!
ya see guys, I am kind of stuck between a rock and a hard spot. I am the only one of my group that has hunted elk, and recruited my group members into western hunting, which I have been doing since I was a young kid following the family all over the Wyoming and the Dakotas. But starting a new career has really kicked my behind and made hunting hard at the moment. I do not want to invest in a hunt right now not knowing if I will even be able to go come next fall. which is why the OTC elk hunt has appeal. I have shot enough goats. Until my son is old enough to hunt, I don't need to shoot another. and there are few places to buy a mule deer tag without applying, and I am not traveling anywhere to shoot a whitetail.
as it is, I am probably 50/50 on whether I can even go at all. Or if I do, I might drive separate and just call/pack meat/tend camp, and leave when I have to leave and let the rest hunt longer.
but either way......I am our info gatherer and am doing what I can to gain some experience for my hunting party even though my own time is limited.
Thanks for the replys guys!!!!!!
It is closer then Idaho or western MT! I remember you talking about Nebraska a few months back and now Colorado and closer to Wisconsin sounded funny. lol. I think there are some decent deer regions in WY that have leftover tags and I think Nebraska has an OTC ML deer hunt in Dec. OTC in CO is a good option too but the otc units typically get alot of pressure and if you were able to commit to going before app time and applied for a unit you could draw with 0 points it would prob be a better hunt. The other thing to consider with elk is their size and getting them out. If all 4 of you were successful on a wilderness hunt packing 4 elk out without stock would be quite a job and is part of why I think 5 days would be so short. The other thing on early hunts is warmer temps and getting the meat out before it spoils.
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Nebraska was MY plan, however my compadres had other plans. They do have access to some prime private lands in Wisconsin..........I am quite envious of them and wish I could get on the same lands but it is not land they own or lease............so Nebraska was not attractive to them due to overlapping seasons. we thought of rifle in late October for this unit, but those guys also take time off in early November for bow in WI and don't think they can get that much time off.
all of your concerns Musket Man/mattdeere/schl44 and others are valid, and concerns I have as well. which is why my Nebraska plan made sense. but........they want to try elk. cant blame them. elk country is beautiful. I miss the Star Valley area of Wyoming, and the northern horns are beautiful. I have 4 elk pts in WYO and hope to cash them in in a couple years. elk hunting is fun but hard.
I am starting to think that 4 guys with tags will be peeing our money away. I for one, just love being in elk country, regardless if I have a tag in my hand. and our 4th guy is pretty iffy on going.............so.........I may be the camp tender / trout fisherman if there are any around.........and meat packer. We do have a 4 wheeler to help with meat if we can get quarters to an accessible trail. now 2 guys with tags in 5 days? that is way more doable than 4 (presuming guy #4 drops out)....................sounds way more doable to me. and 1 bull out of 2 guys is a HUGE success. hell, a cow out of 2 tags is a huge success. I will have fun calling and just enjoying Gods Country. Hunting isn't all about the kill anyways.
Thanks for all the info guys. We have a long ways till September. I will continue my research. Thanks for the fun discussion! any further advice and info will be appreciated.
Last edited by Ilovethewest; 02-24-2014 at 06:39 PM.
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2 tags sounds like a good plan. Go enjoy the trip and if you like it and see some elk try to go back in a year or 2! 1 prob with elk tags is they are so expensive compared to deer or antelope. The first time I ever went to CO with a deer tag an OTC elk tag was $240 something so we all got elk tags. the next year when we got there elk tags were about $450 and we only got a couple elk tags. The cost of tags is some of why I havent hunted elk alot. Hopefully I will be hunting elk in Idaho this year finally!