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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
for the life of me i could not find a cow in colorado to shoot with a bow.:pukey:i had a deer tag and a cow tag so i figured i would have had a fair chance of taking something home this year with my bow. we scouted and searched and thought the elk were in the area only to find out that every elk in the area had gone somewhere else!!!! now i have very low experience with this because i getthe same results every bow season, but i wouldnt trade those days in the woods for anything else! i just wish i knew what i was doing wrong!
so here is what i did in the off season. i got with the colorado division of wildlife and got some migration routes figured out. rifle season last year my dad shot a nice bull in the same area. the area does get hunting pressure, probably average or slightly more than average. glassing and scouting preseason showed that the elk were just poluting the area. didnt get a chance to get up there and check on them for a few weeks before the season opened but we have pretty much found them in this same area just about all year long untill the coldest months hit, then they are a few miles away in lower elevation. there is a wilderness area that they could go in but when i glassed what i could, they were nowhere to be found. while hunting i could only find a few tracks here and there, and could see them on private land but it seems to me that the ones on private are a resident heard year round. i didnt have a chance to get into the wilderness area this year but it seemed almost redundant to hunt where i wasnt seeing elk. talked to a few people that hunt that area every year and a few who have been going up there for years have filled out every year! on guy was a muzzleloader another bunch were rifle hunters and a few that were archery hutners.
any advice would help put me at ease till next season.has anyone else ran into this problem, or am i the most unlucky hunter out there?
 

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I think scouting for when elk are in the rut is different from hunting them at other times. Here is a quote from the July-August 2009 Bugle from an article written by Chuck Adams:

"...scouting elk before archery season is often a waste of time. Bulls tend to rut in places different than the ones they hang out in at other times of the year."

We scouted our hunting area two weeks prior to our hunt and found plenty of cows and small bulls close to roads and in easy to hunt areas. When we returned for our hunt they were all gone. It took three days to find the herds by that time it was the peak of the rut and the bulls had pulled the cows into the deep and steep canyons of the wilderness. On day six we got right on them but I missed my shot at a cow.
 

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One of the things that happen during the summer is elk are in areas with great food sources[cows and bulls aren't feeding on the same things because of body needs] and those areas may not be good rutting grounds. A bull is going to take up an area with defendable ridges and timber with water near by. He has to be able to ward off other bulls to keep his cows, but he also has to be in a place where he doesn't use all his body fat up breed and fighting. If you keep watching elk in this area before, during and after the rut you will figure out where they are rutting. Like any other activity it takes time to learn what you are doing. Trial and error. How far west of Denver are you hunting?
 

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Just because you don't "see" elk doesn't mean they aren't there. Last year I went in the second week. A group of five guys from Minnesota were pulling out after a week of hunting. They said they didn't see anything except a few other hunters. After setting up camp I went out and came across 6 different cows and 2 bulls that afternoon. Look for elk "sign". If there's fresh sign, there are elk.......you may just not see them. If there's no sign........move on. Don't limit yourself to one spot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys

I'm hunting about 2 hours outside of Denver. One of the worst things about this area I'm hunting is that there is a ranch that nobody is allowed to hunt on and it's perfect for rutting elk, sage brush hills next to dark timber on the north side of hills and plenty of hay to eat with a creek flowing down the middle of the ranch.
 

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Get as close to the property lines as you can, and find some dark timber that has some benchs on it. This time of year if they are there you will see trails pounded into the ground, and look for rubs. When you find these areas, they maybe bedding areas, or travel routes. Stay out of the bedding areas!!! It is ok th hunt by them, but keep the wind in your favor, enen if it means a mile hike around. Get there before light and listen. If you dont hear anything, give a bugle that sounds like a young bull (high pitch with no growl or chuckel), and dont be aggressive so you don't push him off. All you need is to find out where he is, then close the distance, and try to get to with in 100 yards of him. Try cow calling, and see if he will sound off, and come in for a look. If he is bugling like crazy, cow call with a easy bugle. If he is still coming in, and bugling get aggressive with the bugle, and cow calling as long as he is coming in. The bull is going to be looking for elk, so give him one. Set up a decoy behind you. Let him see it, so he can focus on it, and not you. Once you see him close to you stop calling, or if you see him from a distance, call only when he stops, and just enough to keep him coming. Hope this helps. It does for me. Good luck
 

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Playing the fence line game can go either way. Done that for elk and turkey but I learned to walk a way. OTC tag? I prefer 9800' up to timberline. The cool temp timbered areas on semi steep slopes have served me well through the years. Small openings I have done better in than big meadows. Don't be afraid to walk high ground and glass down. Find elk in late July and watch them. They will move some heading into August. Build some points if you are going to hunt eastern slope. Unit 500 isn't a bad choice, for OTC 45.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks again

Yeah I had a OTC tag but I hunted in the units my deer tag was good for. Actualy i think my deer tag was good for 45..... Never made it north of i70 though. I tried the fence game once also but didn't have a decoy. Got them to come to the fence but never crossed it then I just figured they weren't commin over so I got a little closer and just watched them for a few hours as I walked the fence back to the road
 

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I have a couple of buddies that hunt this unit. They get back at least a couple miles off the roads (this unit is a heavy road-hunt unit, especially towards Eagle) and seem to fill their tags about 50-75% of the time during rifle. I haven't heard too many stories from them glassing animals in the open then putting the stalk on them, it usually involves finding fresh sign first. I would say the best thing to do would be to spend as much time scouting as you can during the off-season looking for wallows, good feeding/bedding areas. If you are only seeing sign here and there, go somewhere else. No reason to spend all your time in the woods chasing one or two animals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Awesome

So the general concencious is you needto put on alot of miles a few miles away from roads to find sign. Nex question is what would your guys strategy once you find the elk? I know every time is diffrent than the next and a lot of it is spontanious and not planned, I just wanted to get the juice flowin!
 

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So the general concencious is you needto put on alot of miles a few miles away from roads to find sign. Nex question is what would your guys strategy once you find the elk? I know every time is diffrent than the next and a lot of it is spontanious and not planned, I just wanted to get the juice flowin!
I called in quite a few cows this year with a cow call that i restricted the reed on so its pinched and has a higher tone to it, like a calf. I had 4 cows literally huffing their lungs out 4 yards away from me they came in so quick. Try to sound desperate, like a predator call and they eat it up. But most importantly, i found the heard first and set up calling on the edge of them. PS I hiked 6 miles to get to this spot, but also called them in after 2 miles of hiking in other areas.

I got the idea after hearing a lost calf and cow communicate last year in the dark. The calf was running toward the cow calling from a ridge and almost ran directly into me. Cool experience ;)
 

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If I know where the herd is there is a plan, always. That plan is formed by many different factors, wind direction and steadiness, temp, how far into the rut we are, how and how much the animals are talking, these are just a few. One of the factors people don't get is there is a huge difference in making elk sounds and talking to elk. Elknut has made a huge change for many people in the way they look at calling[Way to go Paul]. I wish I had Paul around to help me when I started. I learned like Paul did, many hours in the field but I also learned to use a call from some of the very best in the world. But calling is only part of an elk hunters tools.
But back to the question of what I do when I get into the herd. First make sure of wind, second figure out where they are going, third feel out the mood of the heard[that can be told by how much they are talking or how fast they are moving]. Then I call to see how they react. I make on of two calls, a multiple pitch/ high pitch bugle or a low volume set of grunts[short and sweet]. If I get a bugle of any form I will know what to do next, if I get a cow call I know to be very careful cause the bull is coming quiet to check me out. Cow calling will be my next step[I don't go on and on, quick series] but sound like more than one cow. The object is to get the bull to sound off. Once he does cut the distance to him in half then call to him. If he answers cut him off in the middle of his call, you want his reaction. If he goes quiet life gets interesting, if he screams back at you give him hell and get ready. If this is early in the rut he is probably a youngster with cows and will leave as soon as you put some heat on him, go after this bull and dog him until he turns to stand his ground, or call his cows away from him[be the bigger better bull]. Later in the rut bulls get tired of being dogged by other bulls and will stand their ground. They will pick a spot to see you coming and demand you show yourself. That is on their terms don't give them their terms, circle and dog them into a fight, WATCH YOUR WIND the cows will be looking and smelling for you and will fan out as things heat up. Again cut the distance if you can, a real bull will come in to challenge. While all this is happening be ready for the other bulls trailing the herd they may show from any direction at any time. One of the biggest parts of your plan what are you going to shoot? Cow, bull, what size bull? Not knowing what you are going to do can cost you, have a plan. One other thing I believe to be of huge importance, practice your calling[be good]. If I can spot a fake in the woods so can the elk. If you don't bugle well only use it to locate then don't bugle any more. I have kill more than a few elk without any calling at all. Wasn't as much fun but it was the option the elk gave me.
 
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