A Trip West 2018

mbVT

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Back from CO. Four of us did a drop camp hunt in a wilderness area Sept 8-15. Either sex muzzleloader tags (no scopes, loose powder, bore size projectile).
One miss, two passed on. There were a lot of people in the area (hikers and hunters) and after 3 days, the elk, who were still on alert from a busy Labor Day in the area, decided to leave. We managed to find some way up after some work, but they gave us the slip as well. No bugles.

Had a ton of fun. Hiked a bunch of miles, 53 in 6 days was one measure. Saw a ton of critters. Elk, mule deer, black bear, dusky grouse, bighorn sheep, pica, mountain lion tracks. Caught brook trout for dinner multiple nights. We're already scheming on going back...just have to find a less pressured area.

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longbow

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I've always done well renting a car and camping along the back roads. You have a lot of mobility and you can get into elk hiking in 1-2 miles, sometimes less. Save money also. Maybe something to think about for next time. I always went with bow though, and tried to be out of there before ML started. A lot more guys for sure.
 

sneaky_pete000

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Whats the strategy MB? Listen for a bugle and go after it, or were you calling proactively? I'm assuming its a lot of time glassing? Either way, beautiful pics and sounds awesome.
 

JDK

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OTC tags?

What unit?

I've been looking at Colorado but the crowded part seems to be a recurring theme.
 
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Great looking country, glad you still had a good trip. I've heard of mixed reviews from ones I have spoken with in the past about the drop camps some offer. Guess it all depends what outfitter you use etc.
 

Mountain Hunter

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Thanks for sharing Matt. Looks like a great trip! 53 miles in 6 days at altitude? There are going to be some bucks that are in trouble should we get tracking snow this season!
 

Big D

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Some beautiful scenery. Too bad about the elk. I'm sure you gave it a good run.
 

VTHunter08

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I've been waiting for this recap! Sounds and looks like you guys had a good trip, sorry nothing came back with you. I to would be curious what unit you went to. My hunting buddy and I are still trying to decide what state to go next fall for archery elk. He wants Colorado, I kinda want Idaho. I'm nervous about the public lands hunting pressure in Colorado. I've talked to several people that have gone out there to different units and they all have said about the samething, they see more people then elk.
 

mbVT

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Draw tag north of Steamboat Springs.
The pressure out there seems cumulative and the elk don't deal well with it, more so than other species (plenty of mule deer seen). I saw two people not in my party all week, one hunter and one hiker, but these elk had been hunted since Aug 25th (or so), and the hiking trails nearby over labor day weekend moved them too. Plus some camps set up in the general area.
This kept the elk split up more, and made them call shy for sure.
We ended up hoofing around quite a bit- some glassing, but most activity was in the night. Was prepared to call, but didn't.
I've hunted out of this camp before and seen more...I think more people are willing to do the public-land-hike-in hunt.
I do think a vehicle with the option to spike out from different trailheads would be good, or prep for a move from the drop-camp into a harder to access drainage will be key next time we go.
 

NH Hunter

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That's just awesome country Matt. Looks like it was still a hell of a nice place to be.
 

Mainewoods

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I guess I missed this one and bummer you guys didn't connect. I know you were pretty excited for the trip and all the planning, but that's some beautiful country for sure! Our plans have changed for next November, and we have canceled the drop hunt plans (still hoping to get our deposits back) and going full DIY for 3rd rifle elk. Flying into Denver on 10/31 and returning on 11/9. We have the rental truck and AirB&B in Hayden all booked. We were going to do a full DIY wall tent rental out of Denver, but the logistics of staying in a wall tent in November for 9 days and all the gear, was just too much when flying in.

Part of the reason why we dropped the outfitter drop camp was because of the same things you experienced. Camps and areas hunted hard from early fall and elk really move away from the pressure and hit the private land. With a 4x4 truck and a good nights sleep at the cabin, we'll be mobile and fresh every morning, well hopefully anyway. As a real bonus, I reconnected with a good friend of my dads, who lives in Craig, CO and hunts the area regularly. I'm getting lots of good and local intel, but you never until you get there.

Right now our "expendable" cost, which will include split truck rental and cabin, elk tag, flights, and airport parking, is at $1,760 each. This will hit $2k easily if I get an elk. There's some gear cost that I need but it's not much and once I have it, it'll be with me for many more hunts. Hopefully this goes well.
 


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