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Ok. Here is my honest advice. If you are doing an archery hunt and you are not experienced elk hunter or caller, I wouldn't pay an outfitter for a drop camp. I would set up a base camp by the road and spike camp over-nite from there. Drop camps can be successful, but in-experience cannot be compensated for in a drop camp, and I feel your money would be better spent of videos/books/road camp etc. Now, there is absolutley nothing wrong with being inexperienced, we all gotta start some place!!

Secondly, I also want to talk about drop camps. They can be deep in the back country, or not so deep, the most important thing is being in good elk country. It is common for folks to say all the elk are located out of base camp and drop camps are fringe areas with minumal elk.

An outfitter has many considerations when placing base camp. It is the hub of the operation and has specific requirements. First, it has to be in elk country, second it has to have room for all the client/cook/guide/tack/shower/latrine/kitchen tents and be level. It has to have room for stock and coral, readily available firewood, water source etc. So many times a base camp is selected not due to elk in the area only, but other considerations. This in no way means it is a better elk area than drop camps, it is a better logistical camp area with equal elk opportunites. Outfitters want their clients to kill elk, and in this day and age a cruddy drop camp would be hammered online. I would put a clients and guide in our drop camps in a New York minute and feel just as comfortable with that clients opportunites.
Finally, just being "dropped" off at camp isn't enough. An outfitter should be supplying their clients with GPS readings of wallows, travel routes, bedding, feeding routes etc. He should sit down before your hunt and go through the maps with you and explain the area. He should stay in contact via radio if possible each day, and check on your camp every other day. He should supply tents, cots, first aid kit, wood stoves, table, cooking equipment, laterns etc. In our case we supply the food as well, but not all outfitters do that. Many times I will even stagger the drop camps with the base camp hunts so I can cruise down and spend the night with the drop campers and guide them around for a day. However, that is completely a function of what is going on in base camp and would never promise that I could.

I personally don't think drop camp is for rookie elk archery hunters, rifle hunters yes. Archery requires excellent calling skills and fundemental elk understanding, and if you are brand new elk hunting you will struggle. Rifle hunters do not need to get that close and really don't need calling skills, so drop camp can and is successful for them.
 

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I did a drop camp hunt with Broken Arrow Lodge out of Alder, Mt. Hunted with a couple friends from Cabelas and had a great time. Excellent camp shot 2 elk and a coyote out of three hunters. Could have tagged out but older hunter was having difficulty with deep snow. Didn't see another hunter all week and fresh sign everyday. Can't ask for more than that. Good luck.
 

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I only do do-it-yourself CO hunts w/ some of my best friends, it's been an annual tradition for a long time.

I personally haven't done a "drop camp" because we choose to pack all our gear in ourselves vs paying to have someone do it for you. So obviously I can't recommend a drop-camp outfitter, but I can tell you the benefits of going that route vs packing in/out on your own....and what it's like trying to do it on your own backs. Basically it comes down to where you hope to hunt, how physically fit your group is, how long you plan to stay in the woods at a time, whether money is an issue, etc.

Drop camps can be nice because most outfitters will take in all your tents, food, hunting equip, gear, firewood, etc depending on what's being offered w/ the drop so that you DON"T have to carry it all in/out. The longer you hope to stay in the woods, the more food, gear, etc you'll need to survive the stretch. Obviously the more stuff you need, the heavier the pack in/out on your backs. Addtly, many will come back in and get your game after it's harvested in take it back out on horse/mule, but like others said, you want to ck to see if there's any addtl fees to pack out game, or a limit to how many times they will come in/out for you, etc.

We usually go in for 9-10 days straight and only leave if we have too, or game is killed and can't be kept in the woods. Usually 4-5 guys go in together, we all weigh our packs and shift things from pack-to-pack so we all have a fair load on the way in. We pack smart too, ultralight tents, water pufiers (to save packing water weight), ultrailight camp stoves, smart food choices, etc...everything is thought threw carefully down to the ounce. Still we have yet to do a trip where everyone doesn't have at least 100lbs of gear on your back. So, can the guys in your team carry 100lbs on their back for 8 miles up rugged mtns at 11K feet, or is the terrain you choose to hunt easier ground, lower altitude, and it's only 1 mile in, or what. Be realistic about your capabilities as a team, hiking a few miles around in PA w/ a 100lb training pack is a lot different than doing it for real in steep country at 11K feet. You can't really train for that kind of altitude, so you must be peak fit before trip to handle what you'll experience if you try it on your own.

If you haven't done a West trip before, a drop camp may be a good way to start. The outfitter knows where you are, 'cuz he put your stuff there, in case you get into trouble. If you don't have to carry it all in, a light day pack may be all that's needed by your team on the hike in/out, that's nice. You can generally take more/better food/gear/etc w/ horses than you can struggling to do so on your own two feet (extra socks, real meat, addtl luxuries). Lastly, if you kill something, especially an elk....welcome to pain! Brutally heavy animal, it's nothing to have 4 guys in rough country w/ up to 100-150lbs each. And once it's out...you've got to go back in and keep hunting.

My advice, think it all threw carefully w/ your teammates, put your heads together and come up w/ a plan. Every guy or team is different, lots of variables to consider. In short, drop camp is simply easier than taking it in/out yourself. Only your team will know if they can handle it one way or the other. Perhaps it's worth the price for your group, or maybe your team strives to do it all on your own....my group loves the pain.
 

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Hey John-happy to share a few pics. These are a couple from our hunt last year. The 3 of us ended up w/ a vicious flu bug (came from one of the guy's 1 yr old b-day party) on day 3 of the hunt, that took 3 days to kick. Throwing up/runs every hr for 3 days straight at 11K feet, sub-zero nights in the snow, but we never quit...this was our reward! I'm in the one w/ the 6X6 bull, my buddy took a very nice muledeer buck (5X4, small brow tine).





A couple pics from our rifle hunt last yr (our ultralight base camp w/ stove that 3 guys stayed in we packed in):









Couple pics from the yr before, archery hunt (do-it-yourself):





 

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beaver boy said:
If you are looking for a outfitter check out Ron and Debbie Hilkey owners of Adams Lodge in Meeker Colorado. I know they have a web site. They have excellant drop camps in the White River National Forest. (Camps are in the Flat tops wilderness Area) They pack you in by horse and pack your kill out.
We did a DIY hunt about 20 miles south of there near Buford, in the White River Nat'l. Forest back in 2000. It cost me all of $625 for 5 days of hunting and 2 of hiking in and out. Five of us went, 2 stayed at base camp in the South Fork park and 3 of us hiked up in for 6 hours. Only one of us scored. I took 36 pictures of the beautiful wilderness out there, only to find out my camera screwed up, tore the film slots and never advanced the film. I got nothing except about 40 minutes of 8mm video from before and after the hike/hunt.
 

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Ouch--hate to lose pics from a special hunt that's for sure. The memories will live on w/ you and your buddy's though, and that's what counts. I've got HUNDREDS of pics from my hunts...so pretty out there, have to pick your spots for camera vs hunting sometimes...hahaha.

I got a super Cannon smash-proof/waterproof camera from the wife for X-mas solely for hunting. You can actually swim under water with it, does a great job, super pics and the video is an added bonus. Nice to have a good camera you don't have to worry about the weather, I just throw it in the vest at the start of the season and it's always there if I need it for field pics, etc. One of the best things I ever got for hunting....so many good times I wished I had a camera and didn't have one w/ me, not anymore.
 

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I agree! The difference out west is the people don't litter and if you break down they stop to assist you. They have a different mentality. There are alot of good people around here too but take a walk in the woods and it's obvious we also have alot of scumbags. Trash, stolen tree stands, etc..... The scenery out west is unbelieveable. As alot of us on this forum have been blessed to witness. I hope everyone gets to see the Rocky Mountains and the vastness of the West.
 

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Yep--the West will make you feel very small, really quick. Awesome experience, I'll be out there again this yr, can't wait! My training is just about to start....
 

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Good luck on your hunt out west. Headed to South Africa this fall and British Columbia next fall for goat, bear, and deer. I already started training for my BC hunt because of what other hunters have told me about hunting for goats.
 

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Drop camps are difficult to do the first time out. It is nothing like PA. Just dealing with the amount of land out here can be a problem. I always recommend using an outfitter to set you up at a minimum. He can give you a lot of information to help your hunt. There are a lot of elk out here. There is also a lot of land where there are no elk. You can spend many days hunting good elk country and be hunting in the wrong direction and see nothing for days. Most important is getting the elk you see on the ground with the first shot. They really are not hard to kill but if wounded can go many miles, like six or seven miles. If you have to chase one, you can cause an entire herd or two to completely vacate an area. When they move, they can easy go for 10 miles to a new area. Also getting one out of the woods is a big problem. They are big heavy animals. In most states the law states all the meat is to be carried out.

Even with all the mentioned potential problems, elk hunting is extremely exciting. And as you learn it becomes even more exciting.
 

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big 28 keep up on the physical training. i have done 2 goat hunts and they are brutal. train mentally also trust me that is a big part of goat hunting. never let the mountain beat you. good luck. if i could hunt anything it would be goats and sheep. nothing like mountain hunting
 

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I'm at 50lb in my Alaskan Guide Pack (the same one I'll use on the trip). I have been chasing turkeys all over the slate banks and doing alittle running. I appreciate the advise and will be ready next September. It's hard to find mountains around here to somewhat give me the same conditions as BC, but I do have some huge slate banks that are hard to climb due to the fact that you take a step and go back a half step. Any ideas I'd appreciate them.
 

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no conditioning can prepare you for those mountains. i did everething possibile. trust me it does help but other than living there it is still hard. the biggest help to me was mental. i would not let the mountain beat me. time is on your side and taking your time and resting often you would be suprised how fast you got up the mountain.. the funny thing is when you get upo top it gets alot easaier. i have shot 3 mountain lions and all 3 were amazingly hard to get to. the one thing that kept me going was the prize at the top of the mountain
 

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As a general rule of thumb if my base camp destination is 5-6 miles in I choose to DIY via backpacking. If it's much deeper into the wilderness than that I would look into drop camps. That's just a personal preference as if you need to re-supply you could make it out to the truck and back easily within a day. Not to mention if you down an elk.

I've only been on two drop camps and have had great success on both (DIY hunted quite a few years). I have also packed in past some drop camps thinking why not DIY it if that's as far as you're going in. But then the hunters may not have to will or gear to DIY it. If you decide on a drop camp do your research and call references.
 
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