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Colorado Elk Hunt

Hello! Welcome to Elk Hunts Colorado!

This site was designed to help the typical hunter make an informed decision about their Colorado elk hunt.  This blog is not owned by any type of hunting business so it’s designed to offer an unbiased opinion for those looking to hunt Colorado.

If you are one of the many hunters looking for an awesome Colorado Elk Hunting  experience, you have come to the right place.  Colorado  hunting is truly a unique experience of a lifetime.  You’ll see all kind of big game and wildlife including mule deer, black bear, coyote, turkey and maybe even a mountain lion!

Colorado features some of the finest elk hunting in this country. The extreme bulls are here and many big bulls are harvested here annually.  For those of you who have hunted in Colorado previously, you understand the wide range of wildlife available to the hunter. The Colorado hunt with its diverse natural habitat provides unbelievable hunting possibilities for the sport enthusiast.

If this will be your very first time hunting in Colorado, you will be taking part in an unforgettable adventure.  The elk hunting in Colorado is well known for producing large elk.  In fact the Colorado Division of Wildlife says Colorado is the “elk hunting capital of the world!  The trophy bulls are definitely available in Colorado.  Whether you are an archery hunter, muzzleloader or you prefer to hunt the late rifle season, a fully guided hunt is truly a North American hunting experience.

But, why a guided hunt?  Whether you are an experienced hunter or a beginner you will learn a lot by hunting with a professional guide.  You will be hunting with an expert who is very knowledgeable about the game and the terrain you will be covering.  On a fully guided hunt you will become familiar with hunting in ways you never imagined.

In addition to the many things you will learn from your guide you will also benefit greatly from their knowledge of the particular area that you will be hunting in.  They know which units are producing good results and have spent the weeks before your hunt scouting those areas.  This greatly increases your chance for a successful hunt!

Usually a guide service has different packages you can choose from priced at different levels.  Sometimes you can choose to bring your own accommodations or stay in the facilities that the guide offers.  If you stay in the accommodations provided by the guide service, they will more than likely provide all your meals also.  Who doesn’t like getting back to camp to find dinner ready?  This can be money well spent when you have put in a hard day of hunting.

But wait, there’s more!  After an exhilarating hunt and a successful kill, what’s the part most of us don’t really look forward to?  Packing out the elk…..but on a fully guided hunt your guide will field dress, skin and cape your elk.  They will even make sure it gets to the nearest processor in a timely manner!

Most importantly, though, this site will help you find a guide service that knows how to locate the big Colorado bull elk! You don’t want to rely on just your good luck. If you have waited for years to go on your Colorado Elk Hunt , the last thing you need is to trust your elk hunt to an amateur guide service.

 

 

Hunting Conditions in Colorado

Elk Hunts Colorado hopes you are having a successful elk hunt this year.  The following article gives and update on the conditions in Colorado this year.

Relatively dry weather adds to hunters’ challenges

By Tom Boyd
Special to The Denver Post
Posted: 10/19/2011 01:00:00 AM MDT

 

Elk can hear bears, mountain lions and wolves, which are quieter than hunters. (RJ Sangosti, Denver Post file)

Happen upon an elk hunter in Colorado’s high country during the upcoming rifle season, and they’ll likely have one eye on the sky, hoping for some sign of moisture.

Unfortunately, these hopes will likely come up dry. Forecasts for the popular second rifle season (Saturday-Oct. 30) appear to be dry and sunny throughout Colorado, and where it’s not warm, it may be downright hot.

This creates crunchy conditions on the forest floor, not exactly ideal for stealthy movement. Pine needles crack underfoot. Aspen leaves are anathema. In the whispering silence of a big-game hunt, each boot step on dry leaves might as well be a shout of warning to nearby game.

“Every year is different. This one is very different,” said Dick Ray, president of the Colorado Outfitters Association.

Ray, who runs Lobo Outfitters near Pagosa Springs, said some elk in southern Colorado herded up and headed for lower ground during a massive, but isolated, snowstorm in the Wolf Creek area. On the other hand, many of the elk are still alone or in small groups, enjoying what’s turned out to be a prolonged warm spell.

“Down here (in southern Colorado), the aspen leaves and the oak leaves have just begun to turn. Consequently, you have full foliage, which you seldom ever, ever have this late in the year,” Ray said.

Warm conditions coupled with a remarkably wet, late spring, have complicated matters even further in all but the southeast region of the state, where drier conditions prevailed. Colorado’s elk can find water and foliage almost anywhere they choose to meander — and without cool weather and snow, most aren’t herding up and heading for the low country quite yet.

That leaves hunters in a bind. They can’t hole up near water and wait for the elk, and it’s too late in the season to bugle them in. On the other hand, when hunters get out and move, they’ve got to navigate through dry, crunchy conditions.

Big bulls didn’t get big by playing it casual with warning sounds. From that first pre-dawn feeding, to the afternoon regression, on to the evening browse, bulls and cows always travel warily this time of year. Cup-shaped ears up to 6-inches long capture the subtlest of sounds, and each ear can pivot individually — like radar — toward suspicious sounds.

“Their biology over thousands of years is survival,” said Randy Hampton of the Colorado Division of Wildlife. “This isn’t about being geared to hear a hunter coming. This is about hearing a mountain lion coming, a bear coming, a wolf coming — and bears, mountain lions and wolves are a lot quieter than we can be.”

Consider that an elk also has millions of olfactory nodes within its protracted snout, all evolved to capture the scent of danger, and suddenly that sweaty, hard-hiking hunter crashing through the bone- dry understory doesn’t seem like much of a threat.

Yet even in warm, sunny years, about one out of every five elk hunters harvest an animal.

Ray and Hampton agree there’s no one secret to success, but those who can handle the intimidating, log-strewn terrain of dark timber tend to get to tell all the good stories in the pubs, Hampton said.

“If you talk to 100 hunters, you’re going to get 55 different ways to get an elk,” Hampton said. “But of the 20 guys that got an elk last year, I would bet you almost to a man they worked the dark timber in these kinds of conditions.”

With more than 40 years experience hunting all over North America, Ray said every year presents its own set of challenges, but with the right attitude and skill set, any hunter can find success. After all, the elk “don’t disappear,” he said.

“Nothing will beat woodsmanship skills, like getting up early, being there early, having the wind in your face and the sun at your back, seeing the game before it sees you and hugging the shadows,” Ray said.

“You don’t need the latest brand of camo, you don’t need much of anything except good woodsmanship skills and a good attitude, and you can still go out there and have a good time.”

Those with one eye on the sky may just find their reward, too. After all, there are few things quite as unpredictable as Colorado’s mountain weather. Snow can come at any time. With it comes a dampening silence and a fresh tablet of whiteness for the elk to scribble their tales of comings and goings.

So a hunter can always take heart that, even if those faint remnants are all that’s to be seen of this year’s elk, many a good story is still out there waiting to be told.

bowhunter

Road Closures For Opening Day of Archery

 

If you are a bow hunter who is planning your hunt in parts of Eagle County, Routt County or Grand County on Saturday, August 27 on the opening day of archery season – plan for road closures & delays due to the USA Pro Bicycling Challenge scheduled on the same day. More details available here.

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North American Elk

Elk in North America during days gone by were the most broadly dispersed member within the deer family.  They were found across the continent everywhere with the exception of the Great Basin desert as well as the Southern coastal plains.  Their unique population was determined to total approximately 10 million prior to the arrival of European man.  These elk stood up against the affects of western settlement better by comparison than the buffalo simply because they inhabited tougher terrain.

The significant decline in elk quantities is thought to be the result of market hunting and growing agriculture across the country.  In 1922 the elk population reached its lowest point of 90,000 animals.  Of these animals, 40,000 resided within Yellowstone National Park.  Yellowstone’s herds managed to become the foundation breeding stock of the North American elk.

In the state of Colorado the native herd around the year 1910 is estimated to be about 500 to 1,000 animals.  To build up these herds, fourteen different transplants were made between 1912 and 1928 totaling about 350 elk.  Somewhere between 1912 and 1967 upwards of 13,500 elk ended up being transplanted out of Yellowstone Park.  These transplants have become the thriving elk herds we now see in Colorado.

The North American hunting enthusiast seeks to preserve wildlife habitats so that the Colorado elk and all North American elk will continue to have a place to thrive.

Bull Elk – Magnificent Majestic Beauty

By Dennis N. Darger

Elk are members of the deer family which comprises ( from largest to smallest ) moose, elk, caribou and deer. The bulls weigh from six hundred to eight hundred pounds or more. Elk have eyes on the sides of their head which lets them see in about any direction except behind them. Elk are large ungulates found in Europe, North America, New Zealand, and the Far East. They are highly flexible, prospering in a large range of environments. Elk now live as far east as Pennsylvania, where they were reintroduced in the early 1900s, and now more than seven hundred elk wander thru forests in the north-central part of the state. Elk populations are also growing in other states where they had virtually vanished.

 

Elk can be pale grey, tan, or brownish to reddish in color, depending on the species. Bulls have a tendency to be lighter colored than cows. The pale rumped American elk called “wapiti”, which is Shawnee for “white rump”, are found in the woods, mountain meadows, foothills, plains, swamps, and coniferous forests of western North America. Elk are powerful and muscular. Bulls are some twenty five percent bigger than cows at maturity. Elk are one of the largest land animals in North America, and are the most common larger mammal found in Yellowstone National Park. They are herbivorous animals who can find lots of food in places where deer typically can’t. They consume an average of 20 pounds of food every day. Elk are ruminant animals, similar to cows, and therefore regurgitate their food and remasticate to help in digestion.

Elk grow antlers that provide a method of defense, as does a powerful front-leg kick, which is performed by either sex if incited. Antlers are made from bone which can grow up to one inch each day. Antlers that are in the growing stage are soft and workable and covered with hairy skin, which is called velvet. Elk shed their antlers starting in late February for the largest males, extending to late April and even early May for the younger ones. Every year they start growing new antlers again in summer. These antlers can weight up to 40 pounds and be up to 5 feet wide.

Elk also lose and replace their hair twice yearly, once in the spring and again in the autumn. They often roll in mud wallows to loosen their dead winter coats and help dislodge annoying parasites. Elk are best viewed at a distance, using binoculars or a spotting scope for close-up viewing.

Elk are primarily crepuscular, most active early in the morning and late in the afternoon. They are timber-oriented animals, preferring to be in the cool shade. Elk are social creatures. They live in summer herds with as many as four hundred others. Elk can live twenty years or longer in captivity, but average 10 to 14 years in natural habitats. Bulls often don’t live as long as cows, seldom exceeding twelve years.

Cows
Starting in the second autumn of their lives, cows generally give birth to a single fawn 8 1/2 months after mating. Calves are precocial, walking right after birth. They are born in late May or early June, and weigh between thirty and forty pounds when born, and 225 to 275 pounds when weaned about six months later. Calves are born with a protecting coloration of light spotted areas on the back which act as camouflage. They grow quickly and lose their spots by summer’s end. Cows often leave their newborn calves vulnerable while they go off to feed, and they fall prey to bobcats, coyotes, and the like.

The Rut
Elk are generally passive animals and though human attacks are rare, they do happen. Elk are big, wild animals and can be deadly, particularly during rut. Antlers are an indication of strength and dominance among males and are used to lure females in the breeding season. Bulls are only territorial during the mating season and are otherwise not assertive toward other elk. Bulls pack on the weight in summer, then show small interest in feed and lose up to 40% of their body weight during the rut. Bull elk that enter the rut in poor condition are less certain to make it thru to the peak conception period or have the strength to survive the severity of the approaching winter.

Bull elk are only capable of breeding from about August to January, and the cows cycle only in that same period. Bulls do not enter actively into the rut till they are about three years old, although they can breed for the 1st time as yearlings, at roughly sixteen months of age. Elk are harem breeders and can mate with as many as 50 cows in a season. There is some evidence that the females select the male. Elk by nature are gregarious at all seasons, but in spring and summer the old bulls often are solitary or in bachelor herds, and typically live apart a lot of the year.

Elk are the noisiest member of the deer family in North America. Bulls have a loud vocalization composed of screams known as bugling, which can be heard for miles. They vie for dominance through bugling, sparring, and chasing wannabe rivals away.

Elk Hunting
Elk are hunted as a game species, and are often subject to limited, legal sport hunting. Hunting has been utilized as an elk management system to keep the amount of elk in balance with their habitat. Hunting license charges make a contribution to elk research, and the acquisition of additional vital elk habitat.

Elk Farming
Although elk are regarded as pests by many farmers, some farmers raise them commercially for hunting, meat production, and velvet collection. The beef for meat production is leaner and higher in protein than meat or chicken, but is typically tougher requiring marinating, grinding, or stewing. Bulls produce velvet each year with an average two-year-old male producing 9 pounds of velvet. The velvet is considered by some cultures to be an aphrodisiac. Western North America, and New Zealand are the home of many commercial elk farmers.

Whether you relish hunting them, eating them, or simply enjoying their majesty, magnificence, and beauty, all must admit that they add depth of appreciation to our lives.

Visit Wet Jet Precision for Wildlife silhouettes, pictures and additional information.

Dennis N. Darger at Wet Jet Precision can be reached toll free (888) 707-5077 to discuss “Wildlife Silhouette Art” cutting costs for your gift giving needs. Services are nationwide. View their work at http://www.my-waterjet-cutting-service.com and/or email Dennis at dennis@my-waterjet-cutting-service.com Copyright 03-05-10. Article may be reprinted if it is reprinted in its entirety.

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Picking A Guide Service

 

 

At Elk Hunts Colorado we believe that preparation is the key to having a successful deer or elk  hunt.  If you are considering using  a guide service, advanced preparation is also very important.

This advanced preparation for your Colorado elk hunt typically starts a year prior to your actual hunt.  Your job as the hunter (besides preparing physically) is to find a guide service that is reputable, trustworthy and able to provide you with testimonials of other successful hunts.  Hunting videos showing live hunts can also really help you to make your decision.

Start out by deciding on an area or a state that you may possibly want to hunt in.  Take into account how big the elk herds are in that area and the rate of success for the hunter.  If you are looking to take a bull elk that could land in the record books, Colorado has been the top spot over the last twenty years.  An additional factor in making your decision could be how close you happen to be to a particular area or state.  And if you are considering hunting Colorado, more licensing information can be found here:

Big Game Season Dates and Fees

Once you have picked your state, it is time to decide which type of hunt you would like to go on.  In some states guides offer a bare bones package that may include a place to stay near the hunting area, and recommendations by the guide about the best hunting spots. But you are left to hunt on your own without the knowledge of an experienced guide.  This is your least expensive option.

The next step up in guide packages is drop camp choice.  Your outfitter will usually provide you with a rigged up backcountry camp.  At this primitive home away from home your outfitter shows you the place you will begin the actual hunt and then leaves you to hunt without assistance.

He may provide a guide who can drop in on you every day or so to find out if you need anything.  The guide might also help you pack out your game, if necessary.  This can be an affordable option if you and your buddies are pretty familiar with elk hunting.  This type of hunt is generally about half the cost of the standard hunt.  However, you need to realize that you will not have the wealth and knowledge of the guide with you on the actual hunt.

 

Another option available to the hunter is the guided only hunt.  In this option you are receiving all the benefits of having an experience guide with you while you are hunting but you provide your own tent or camping rig.  This package can also save you some money.

The fully outfitted hunts are the ultimate choice for many hunters.  This fully guided hunt option encompasses everything.  You are given a place to stay near the hunting location and typically all your meals and transportation are included also.  Before you ever arrive your guide service will have scouted the area many times to ensure you the best chance at harvesting your elk.

In most cases the outfitter will also field dress your game and also skin and cape it. Choosing a fully guided hunt will cost you more, but with the expertise of your guide the success rate is considerably higher.

Because you are investing a great deal of time and money in this elk hunt, it is definitely worth your while to check out your outfitter, call him on the phone, ask him questions, get some referrals, watch the  hunting videos and make an informed choice.

Preparing For Your Archery Hunt:  Make Every Shot Count

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