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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: State College, PA
Re: Colorado Elk Hunt
Good luck man! CO hunts are awesome, amazing country. Been doing them for a long time w/ some of my best friends. I was blessed w/ a fine 6X6 last year on a do-it-yourself hunt.
I agree, any of the guns you suggested should be fine, good knock-down power, and then placement is the key. I've been taking my .270 and love it. Saw a guy drop a cow at 600 yards w/ it from ridge top to ridge top, was amazing (I wouldn't take that shot, but he was a guide w/ serious rifle skills). Weight is important given the amnt of daily hiking you'll most likely do, and the ability to shoot long range w/ accuracy (flat shooting rifle) can make a big difference. Pick your gun of choice and practice a bunch in all ranges so you know where it'll hit (suggest out to 300 yards as a minimum).
Good rifle optics are important, much of the action can be early/late in the day and can be in low light conditions. I've used the Leupold VX-3, and VX-3 long range, very nice but lots of good optics out there. Having a good rangefinder (I like w/ ARC) can be important too. Ranges, distances can play tricks with you out there.
Good set of glassing binochulars can be huge. I've got some 10X42 roof prisms that work well, but they were no match against my buddy's Swarovski's for scouting in the dark under moon-light (this happens in the early am, late evening as you often try to catch them in the meadows to locate the elk). Granted they can be extremely expensive, but take the best ones you can get your hands on....even if you have to borrow from a friend for a wk.
Training is of UTMOST importance! I don't know where you are hunting exactly in CO, what altitude, etc but the West is brutal compared to PA. STEEP mtns that seem to "go on forever" combined w/ high altitudes will take a flat-landers breath away, literally. You can't really train for that altitude in PA. We typically base camp at 11K feet and hunt up to a little over 12K feet. You need to be in incredible shape before hand to be able to cover ground day after day at high altitudes. Even then, you'll find yourself walking 50 yards and stopping for air. Normally your body will slowly adjust ("acclimating"). One way to deal w/ this is to go in a day early and rest, letting your body adjust before the serious hikes begin. Perhaps taking anti-sick meds would be a good idea but in general you have to take them before you go in, once you get sick, they won't help you.
My training starts during winter w/ regular walks, riding an excerise bike (cardio), etc. Nothing crazy, just steady excerise. Then about when spring turkey hits, I'm in the woods a lot hunting, walking, hiking w/ day packs, etc. By summer, I'm now hiking up local mtns w/ the frame pack I'll be using out West and will do 7 mile hikes a few times/wk. Once the hike is solid, I started adding weight to the pack (dumbells, rocks, etc). Gradually increase the weight up to around 75lbs or so up until the the last week or so before the trip. The last week, I rest...and head out.
The biggest thing I've learned from training is to START SLOW and start early. Putting it off 'till summer then rushing out of the gates can cost you your hunt if your strain/hurt yourself. That nearly happened to me last year. Work had kept me too busy, started preparing too late and ended up pushing myself too fast too quick. Strained a muscle in my rib that made it hurt to breathe, and nearly didn't make it. I'll never make that mistake again.
Feel free to PM me or whatever if you have anyother questions. I've done it a bunch, and it's provided me w/ some of the best experiences in my life. Your team you go with can make/break the trip. If you aren't tight w/ them beforehand, you probably will be aftewards. It's a wonderful thing. Best of luck!
I live to hunt....and hunt to live!