1st Elk hunt White River NaTional Forest.

Thommy94

New Member
Jan 10, 2021
12
1
This will be my first elk hunt this year planning n going second rifle season with an OTC tag Looking at White RiverNational Forest. Plan on parking at a trail head and bag pack in . Not looking for a someones honey whole just a few units for a novice to start researching. Being a novice I don’t want to pick an area that is more for the seasoned hunter. Was looking at 444 and 24. Not commented to white River Forest and I am open to suggestions. Also looking for trail head information were I could park and hike in.

Appreciate the help and advice
 

taskswap

Active Member
Jul 9, 2018
437
288
Colorado
In my opinion when it comes to elk in Colorado, being seasoned isn't the main driver of success. I've watched guys who said things like "my family's been coming to this exact spot for 20 years and we always take home elk!" go home empty handed bitching about "the good old days" while standing 30' from newbies from Florida filling their cooler. You have to be prepared to work. And if you are, both units are probably fine.

Personally, I start EVERY research by looking for access. That's a huge deal especially if you're on foot. Both those units have plenty of public acreage but it's not always easy to get to. For instance, if you look at 24 at first glance it looks pretty broad and easy right? There's a road running right through it.... but most of the south side of that road is a huge tract of multi-million dollar mansions on big ranches with private gates, and the few N/S access roads off it get a lot of hunter traffic because they're the main routes "in" to public land. Depending on where you park you can expect to compete with a lot of hunters, many of whom have horses or ATVs to get around.

OnxMaps + the MVUM can be your friend here. It'll label all the roads that are passable by vehicle, as well as campgrounds and trailheads. Plan on them not being SUPER accurate - they're pretty good, but plenty of times I'll see a road marked only to find a locked gate there. https://www.fs.fed.us/ivm/ is usually accurate, just a little clumsy to use.

Weather impacts things a lot. Bring plenty of gear. Heck, bring it all. This past season I went out Rifle 1 and it was 85 one of the days. My wife went out Rifle 2, 10 days later, and it was 13 or so her first day. And if it impacts you it impacts the elk too, so they can be high or low - you can't predict it until you're there. Good rule of thumb in my opinion is to plan to start high and work down.

Before I got into elk hunting I researched a ton. I read up on their habits, schedules, forage, and all sorts of data. To be honest, I never really found that stuff helpful. You'll get one source telling you to get as far off trail as you can because elk are crafty and know how to avoid people. But then my buddy watched a 5x5 walk right across a major trail right in front of him. I spent all of last season poking around the steepest, nastiest dark timber, draws, and canyons, which every guide says is "where the elk will be", but I ultimately took MY bull in a very open aspen clearing when I was barely paying attention anymore.

Then again, I guess a lot of what I wrote myself could probably fit the BS category. Best I can say is good luck :)
 

mallardsx2

Veteran member
Jul 8, 2015
2,670
1,299
What kid of shape are you in?
Why not just apply for a 1st season rifle tags that you have a good chance on drawing?
 

Thommy94

New Member
Jan 10, 2021
12
1
I’m in good shape I’m a runner. Been hiking with my pack on However I’m from Illinois so I’m not in mountain shape. I try to hike and run as many hills as possible. However I know it’s a different beast in Colorad. there two of us going I figured if it was ver the counter hunt we both would be guaranteed tags. I’m going to talk it over with my friend an maybe go that route
 

JimP

Veteran member
Mar 28, 2016
5,312
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Gypsum, Co
Whatever you do plan on getting at least to Denver a couple of days before the hunt to get accumulated to the altitude.

Also do some research on Altitude Sickness and learn the symptoms. Leave the alcohol at home and drink lots of water when here.
 

JimP

Veteran member
Mar 28, 2016
5,312
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Gypsum, Co
the unit number 444 is higher than the elk population in that unit
The other day I checked out a small herd of elk to the south of me in 44. In a field that should have over 200 elk it had less than 100. I need to get over towards Eagle and check out the herd there, but last year all I saw in that area was around 50. Plus when I was up in the wilderness area of 44, 45, and 444 last fall I didn't see a single elk.
 
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Thommy94

New Member
Jan 10, 2021
12
1
Wow thanks for the info. I’ve been to Colorado a few times in Durango but was not hunting done some fishing there. Appreciate the advice on staying in Denver a couple nights. Do you recommend any units I should research for a new hunter. Been doing as much research I can from a far online just a little overwhelmed. Also do you have any advice on caliber been looking at the 300 win mag or 6.5 Creedmoor. Going to be purchasing a rifle this Month.
 

HuskyMusky

Veteran member
Nov 29, 2011
1,197
80
IL
Watch out for the Orange Army :)

good luck, I would shoot the first bull/cow you see, if you get a shot....

I believe that was 1 of my first hunts myself, rifle, otc, colorado, white river.... I had starry eyes of big 6x6 bulls,

figure out ahead of time what you'd be happy with..... ie, a cow instead of a tiny bull, any bull.... etc....
 

JimP

Veteran member
Mar 28, 2016
5,312
4,156
67
Gypsum, Co
Watch out for the Orange Army :)

good luck, I would shoot the first bull/cow you see, if you get a shot....

I believe that was 1 of my first hunts myself, rifle, otc, colorado, white river.... I had starry eyes of big 6x6 bulls,

figure out ahead of time what you'd be happy with..... ie, a cow instead of a tiny bull, any bull.... etc....

You also need to consider that unless it is a OTC archery tag that there are a lot of units where there is a 4pt minimum on bulls, and unless you have a cow tag they are out of the equation.
 
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