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2016 Uinta Elk?

13683 Views 39 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  Clarq
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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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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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.


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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I do all of those and still seem to have some success..
Ha!! Well you don't have to brag about it! I should follow that up with "pics or it didn't happen" :grin:
Why not apply for Wyoming special, with no points you have an ok chance of drawing, it's around $1100 and there won't be near the people. It's a great tag that comes with a bucketload of opportunity. I know some good areas and if you draw it I will point you in the right direction plus you won't need horses. You can archery hunt the whole month of September then come back in October and rifle hunt for a couple weeks. And if you don't draw then go OTC in another state. The draw results come out quick so you can plan accordingly.

I can point ya in a couple different directions in Colorado if you decide to go that route. I can give ya some areas in the spike areas of Utah if you do that also, but I won't help one bit when it comes to the uintas--that is too precious to give out, just too much blood, sweat, and tears to give anything up....sorry
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