Elk Hunting Tips for first timer


Active Member
Taking my first trip out west with my brother in law. So far planning to head to north central colorado to hunt the 2nd rifle season with OTC bull elk tags (gonna put in for draw hunts, but no preference points. Looked at the hunting atlas and lots of online resources. Any tips on hunting a new species in a new area on public land? Will be a successful trip even if neither of us pull the trigger.
Do your best to find a good area, hunt a couple miles from a road or ATV trail. Plan on spending a several seasons getting to know it. Figure out in advance how you’re going to get meat out of nasty steep holes others are unwilling to hunt. Personally, I’d look for thick north facing slopes with water. Find their bedding areas, a place to glass from....and figure out routines. Mountain winds are fickle and pushed elk will go miles, not just to the adjoining property. Frequently, OTC public land areas require different tactics than you’re accustomed to seeing on the hunting shows. In hard hunted areas, lots of calling can be a mistake... Sometimes less or none at all is more. Enjoy the Rocky’s....they are their own reward. Most folks find it takes a few seasons to put it altogether.
Start now getting in shape if you haven’t already. Nothing worse than finally getting to take a trip out there and not being able to catch your breath or get in front of animals because of physical limitations. Or being insanely sore. Honestly that was my biggest drawback from my first hunt, I thought I was in shape until I tried to hike up the mountain at 9k feet.
I now train hard before the season dropped 40 lbs and was much more ready the following year. Tons of information on podcast and YouTube about selecting a unit and tactics, I feel getting yourself in shape is step 1.
Get in the best shape of your life. When you get there, keep trying because you will need it. You may spend 5-7 days just trying to find an elk. Keep searching and eventually you will find some. Its easy to get discouraged. Once you find them and dont bump them, it makes it much easier to follow/hunt them for multiple days. Most elk in CO are familiar with hunters. Keep calling to a minimum, using 2 different sounding cow calls. If you hear a bull bugle, get as close as possible to him, before trying to call him.

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Thanks guys, that hunting atlas is some amazing stuff!!! spent 3 hours looking at different maps with the migration routes and wintering grounds. We plan on mixing in some fishing and small game to make sure dont get discouraged or burnt out. Thanks for the advice on calling, guys on tv make it look so easy
Thanks for the advice on physical preparedness. I teach an online night class so I get a lot of free time to stare a computer screen, need to start standing and walking more. Hard to experience hills being at the beach, walking in sand may have to suffice.
Good luck on your hunt!

If you can’t get to any hills, climb stairs in the tallest building you can find. It won’t be the same, but it’ll work you legs and lungs pretty hard.