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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello all,

I'm brand new to the forum and am looking for a little help or constructive criticism on my hunt plan for next year. Definitely not looking for honey-holes or 10 digit grids, just a point in the right direction.

I'm an active duty Marine that grew up on the east coast as a whitetail hunter but have had the fortune of being stationed on CA/NV border. I'm definitely new to western hunting but have experienced some succes knocking down a couple CA mule deer (eastern Sierra Nevadas) on solo backpack hunts and a Cow elk in CO last year out of a drop camp. Basically, I don't think I'm completely clueless and am definitely not afraid of some hard work or covering some ground.

Right now my group will consist of about 4-6 guys for the Any Bull Rifle season. I have a line on renting some horses and we plan on packing in the 7th then hunting the 8th through the 15th. I want to try to get 5-7 miles off the roads, set up camp, then hunt from there. Most of the guys I'm going with are in there late 20's as well so we plan on covering some ground to try to get on some Elk.

Right now I'm looking at the Southern Slope east towards the actuall wilderness area. My main issue is finding a step off point then a general area to set up camp. I live about 8 hours drive away, so after some serious google Earth and map work, I'm hoping to go backpack and check it out this spring.

From all the reading I have done so far, it looks like I should expect high pressure by the roads and rugged country and low elk densities in the back country.

Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated!

Thanks, Jon
 

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Take your fishing poles, enjoy the beautiful country.....
 

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It takes a few years to learn the uintas as far as elk patterns and where they are. But when you do and consistently get on bulls with an open bull tag in utah. It is a reward like no other

I have been lucky enough to get 3 nice 6 points and some rag horns over the years. And I smile just as much if not more over those then my limited entry bull.
It's hard work but the reward is worth it you are on the right path with the south slope. PM sent
 

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I think you would have more success in Idaho or Colorado on one of there OTC rifle hunts, I am betting the dates would be similar. Do you have to hunt in Utah? The extra couple hours drive would be worthwhile I think. I love the Uintas and hunt there about every year, but it's because I live here and it's the only place I can hunt bulls each year.

I do the horse pack in thing and have figured some stuff out and I am not even going to tell you what side of the range I hunt--it took too many years to figure stuff out. Every year I usually have a chance at a legal elk, I passed on spikes the last 2 years and almost had a rag horn this year but it wasn't in the cards. I am not successful every year and I don't have a large hunting party like you will which would make it more difficult in my opinion.

Being that you are out of state can you scout at all? Have you ever hunted with horses before? They are a huge hassle and it definitely has a learning curve to it--I have the scars to prove it! If you are paying a horse outfitter then I would take that money and apply right now for the Wyoming Special general hunt as its a much better hunt than the Uintas. Utah OTC Uintas is not a destination hunt for a reason, unless you have private land or some mega honey hole you would be better off someplace else, even for a hard chargin Marine.

If you want cred pics shoot me a PM with your email, I'm not posting any. Trust me on this one--with that many grunts you would be better off somewhere else.
 

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There will still be a lot of snow up there is the spring. If you are going to scout. It would be better to hold off until early to mid summer imo.
 

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I think you would have more success in Idaho or Colorado on one of there OTC rifle hunts, I am betting the dates would be similar. Do you have to hunt in Utah? The extra couple hours drive would be worthwhile I think. I love the Uintas and hunt there about every year, but it's because I live here and it's the only place I can hunt bulls each year.

I do the horse pack in thing and have figured some stuff out and I am not even going to tell you what side of the range I hunt--it took too many years to figure stuff out. Every year I usually have a chance at a legal elk, I passed on spikes the last 2 years and almost had a rag horn this year but it wasn't in the cards. I am not successful every year and I don't have a large hunting party like you will which would make it more difficult in my opinion.

Being that you are out of state can you scout at all? Have you ever hunted with horses before? They are a huge hassle and it definitely has a learning curve to it--I have the scares to prove it! If you are paying a horse outfitter then I would take that money and apply right now for the Wyoming Special general hunt as its a much better hunt than the Uintas. Utah OTC Uintas is not a destination hunt for a reason, unless you have private land or some mega honey hole you would be better off someplace else, even for a hard chargin Marine.

If you want cred pics shoot me a PM with your email, I'm not posting any. Trust me on this one--with that many grunts you would be better off somewhere else.
I agree with the notion to hunt somewhere else.

Not saying that it cannot be done in the Uinta's, but your odds of getting an elk somewhere else is higher. Utah does not even measure the success rates of these hunts and that should be a red flag.

Idaho or Colorado or Montana should be a lot better for general tag purposes. Wyoming has a high success rate general elk tag, but it will take a bit of time to draw in the regular draw.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Gentlemen,

Thanks for the feedback. To elaborate a little more, total costs and the composition of my group is a driving factor. So far it's looking like 3-4 guys in our late 20's and my two uncles in their mid-late 50's which rules out a back pack hunt.

The additional drive is not an issue at all and I have looked into Idaho and Colorado. However, I have not figured out a way to get away from the OTC road hunters and crowds without either ditching my uncles and backpacking in or spending $1500 to $2200 per person for the Drop Camp alone.

In Utah, between tag/horses/food and etc. we are looking at approximately $1400 per person. About $750 this is for the horses, so if anyone knows an outfitter/ranch/trespass fee or other way this money could be better spent in Idaho or Colorado to get us away from the Orange Army im all ears.

Not looking for 350 bulls, just a chance to get away from the crowds and see and hopefully have an opportunity on a couple elk.

Thanks again, Jon
 

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I will echo what Airborne said about the horses being a hassle. Taking them on hunting pack trips is more work than fun if you plan on hunting and taking care of them simultaneously. Hopefully if you are renting horses a guide/wrangler is part of the deal. If not my advice is that if you are going with a group of 4 or more for that amount of time is to rotate days as wranglers. One person is responsible for the horse each day and rotate through the trip. There is a laundry list of issues that can come up with horses aside from the daily care they require (injury, thrown shoes, etc). I own horses and have plenty of experience. Personally I have never packed in with my horses for more than a 4 day trip because hunting and taking care of the horses is so much work you are completely exhausted and done after day 4.

Also if you aren't riding them daily they can get bored after a couple days tied to the highline and become quite moody which doesn't help. :D
 

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"Not looking for 350 bulls, just a chance to get away from the crowds and see and hopefully have an opportunity on a couple elk."


For a fraction of that $1400 you could hit up a Spike only area. If it is elk you are after, I would go cow or spike. If you are cool lighting $1400 on fire, bull is the route. But your chances of success on a cow or spike are a fair amount higher. Colorado's either sex tag is a great option also if you are ok with ANY elk. But, Uintas is fun. It is hard hunting and I wouldn't count on success. With the hunt being a week later this year, I would plan on some downright crappy weather. Seems to storm yearly.
 

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Gentlemen,

Thanks for the feedback. To elaborate a little more, total costs and the composition of my group is a driving factor. So far it's looking like 3-4 guys in our late 20's and my two uncles in their mid-late 50's which rules out a back pack hunt.

The additional drive is not an issue at all and I have looked into Idaho and Colorado. However, I have not figured out a way to get away from the OTC road hunters and crowds without either ditching my uncles and backpacking in or spending $1500 to $2200 per person for the Drop Camp alone.

In Utah, between tag/horses/food and etc. we are looking at approximately $1400 per person. About $750 this is for the horses, so if anyone knows an outfitter/ranch/trespass fee or other way this money could be better spent in Idaho or Colorado to get us away from the Orange Army im all ears.

Not looking for 350 bulls, just a chance to get away from the crowds and see and hopefully have an opportunity on a couple elk.

Thanks again, Jon
Idaho would probably be your best bet, they don't require orange. :mrgreen:

There are some big elk regions in Idaho and you can get away from people without being packed in miles. Idaho closes some roads during the rifle season, which allows for you to get away from the roadies. If you go after the mule deer season closes there will be a lot less people.

Montana is another good bet. They have forever seasons. The forever seasons allow people to spread themselves out throughout. The MD rut is probably popular, but if you pick a limited draw MD unit the people will be less.

Colorado is another good bet. They do have the army of orange, but they have the most elk. Third season is probably better than second season as far as people numbers go.

The Utah Open Bull gives out 10,000 tags and the Uinta's gets most of the people.
 

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It is interesting that many are telling you to go to Colorado. Take a quick glance at the following link and scroll down to Page 22-- success rates for all rifle seasons. Then look through the Antlered success rates. Included there are the Limited Entry units so you will see some high success rates, but all those 0-15% success rates are the OTC general hunts. So before you go thinking that CO is easier to UT, you might want to consider that UT has a higher General Season success rate.

http://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/Hunting/BigGame/Statistics/Elk/2014StatewideElkHarvest.pdf

UT spike only usually has a 12-16% success rates while any bull usually hovers in the 15-18% range.

If you come to Utah be prepared for cold temps, warm temps, snow, rain, and make the best of it. There are bulls to be chased, but it won't be easy. Like most hunting- some hunters kill most of the game. I personally really like the Utah general season any bull hunts and even have had fun shooting spikes with my sons on the spike only units.
 

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Gentlemen,

Thanks for the feedback. To elaborate a little more, total costs and the composition of my group is a driving factor. So far it's looking like 3-4 guys in our late 20's and my two uncles in their mid-late 50's which rules out a back pack hunt.

The additional drive is not an issue at all and I have looked into Idaho and Colorado. However, I have not figured out a way to get away from the OTC road hunters and crowds without either ditching my uncles and backpacking in or spending $1500 to $2200 per person for the Drop Camp alone.

In Utah, between tag/horses/food and etc. we are looking at approximately $1400 per person. About $750 this is for the horses, so if anyone knows an outfitter/ranch/trespass fee or other way this money could be better spent in Idaho or Colorado to get us away from the Orange Army im all ears.

Not looking for 350 bulls, just a chance to get away from the crowds and see and hopefully have an opportunity on a couple elk.

Thanks again, Jon
You seem to be equating backpack/backcountry hunting with being 'into elk'. This is not always true and you should not assume that you cannot have a quality hunt while camping near a road. Elk are where you find them and they can move miles and miles in a single day. The beauty of camping near the road is that you can up and leave if the elk are not in your area--try doing this with horses after you are all set up--getting the darn things packed is an 'event' and takes a half day, on a decent trail you are going 3 mph max--going anywhere kills tons of time. Basically you are more married to an area while horse packing than truck camping.

If you hike a true mile off the road you will lose the vast majority of hunters and you will have plenty of help to get the animal packed back to the road. Plus with several hunters in your camp you can strategically spread out to different areas until somebody runs into some elk.

There are some great hunts that you can do in Idaho/Colorado/Montana and hunt from your truck and have success while also staying well under your budget. I would HIGHLY suggest you get a quality color screen GPS with the land ownership chip, especially if you hunt Colorado.

Do your research and you can do well in any of those states. Or come to Utah and share the Uintas with 10,000 hunters--no joke
 

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It is interesting that many are telling you to go to Colorado. Take a quick glance at the following link and scroll down to Page 22-- success rates for all rifle seasons. Then look through the Antlered success rates. Included there are the Limited Entry units so you will see some high success rates, but all those 0-15% success rates are the OTC general hunts. So before you go thinking that CO is easier to UT, you might want to consider that UT has a higher General Season success rate.

http://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/Hunting/BigGame/Statistics/Elk/2014StatewideElkHarvest.pdf

UT spike only usually has a 12-16% success rates while any bull usually hovers in the 15-18% range.

If you come to Utah be prepared for cold temps, warm temps, snow, rain, and make the best of it. There are bulls to be chased, but it won't be easy. Like most hunting- some hunters kill most of the game. I personally really like the Utah general season any bull hunts and even have had fun shooting spikes with my sons on the spike only units.
I'll play...

Mentally break down the hunter demographics of who is hunting Utah OTC compared to who is hunting Colorado OTC. Colorado is the US dumping ground of all back east guys who want to 'hunt' elk. You get a bucket load of out of shape, no experience elk hunters, many of who love to pop a cork. I have seen them in droves.

Who is hunting Utah OTC? Locals with local knowledge, and a lot of hard charging hunters. We are not a destination state, we are locals who go for broke. I have hunted a lot throughout the country and I truly believe that Utah produces some of the best hunters there are. Because most of us are/were Mormon or at least raised that way we generally don't party, don't drink, don't fornicate, and don't do drugs--we take all of our aggression to the mountain with us and hunt like wild men!

This is a little tongue in cheek but I do think there is some truth to it. So take the success % with a grain of salt, more information is needed to get an accurate view of reality.

A few hard chargin Marines are going to have a much better than average shot at shooting some elk than the average Colorado non resident. In Utah I see you as average or maybe slightly above in the uintas OTC hunting department.
 

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Here are some general season bulls I hope this works not sure how to download from my phone. But so far I am working on bull number 7 from the uintas this up coming fall
 

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hazmat,^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

You have done really WELL!
 

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Yes, very impressive hazmat. You have it figured out. I like the shrine type picture frame also. I have done a couple of those from my hunts of the past. A fun thing to hang on the wall if you cant afford taxidermy or even if you can.
 

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I agree with what has mostly been said already. I have hunted Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming most of my life and all things being equal Utah is at the bottom of the list for opportunity at finding elk. That being said you can certainly still find elk. I wouldn't get your heart set on a horse camp either. I have had as many opportunities at elk close to roads as I have 5 miles back in the wilderness in all of the states listed. The difference is the number of encounters. I think if you put in the same amount of effort and time especially in Idaho or Colorado you will certainly see more elk. I know the uintas fairly well and have had an entire hunt without seeing a single elk.....sometimes thats just the way the uintas are. The wilderness area of the uintas however is one of my favorite places of all times and I'm sure you would enjoy your trip but I believe there are better options out there! Best of luck on whatever you decide.
 
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