Not sure where the boundaries are but we ride that area extensively on our dirt bikes and have seen elk up on top where the 01 trail tops out coming out of Circleville. It's a very steep rise up out of Circleville for sure. Good luck.
What are your goals for the hunt? Would you be happy with the experience as long as you had a chance to see/stalk some bulls? Or do you have an expectation of "I won't pull the trigger unless the bull is XXX inches"?
If you are more like the first one, then just head down, try the area above Circleville. My limited experience down that way saw lots of elk--lots. If you are really concerned about shooting a large bull, try a guide. I think High Top Outfitters has a guide that knows the unit really well.
I'm somewhere in-between. I'm shooting for something around 360. I can kill something smaller than that in Oregon and have several times. I won't hire a guide. I can't spend that kind of money. If I gave my self the chance to see a monster bull and killed something between 340-360 I would consider the hunt more than a success. . . After talking to several people my question is this: Do I hunt the East or West side if I want the best chance for a monster bull (370 or larger)?
Without a guide and no ability to prescout, I think it is a tall order to get a +360" bull, regardless of which side you focus on. Can it happen? Sure. I only really have any experience above Circleville in that unit, and there are plenty of elk there for sure. But it is steep, thick, and nasty. Good luck
If you realistically want a 360-370 bull and don't have the means to do a lot of pre-scouting or hiring a guide, then I would take off as much time as possible before the hunt, and string together as many days on the mountain as possible. If you want an elk that big, what are you willing to give up for him? Perhaps it's just me, but I'd try to get to your hunt area 5-7 days early, and scout your tail off until the opener. If you find a 360-370 bull, camp on him and try to kill him the first day or two of the season. It may or may not get easier after that, but at least you'd have the bulk of your season to try and find another animal if it didn't work out.
Utah has a lot of good and great elk, but it's not near what it was 7-10 years ago (number and quality of big bulls). Personally, I like what the State is doing offering up more tags to move people through, but the natural effect of this is that numbers of the biggest bulls are down as more are killed each year with increased tag numbers.
A forum community dedicated to hunting and fishing enthusiasts in the Utah area. Come join the discussion about safety, gear, tackle, tips, tricks, optics, hunting, gunsmithing, reviews, reports, accessories, classifieds, and more!