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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I joined the forum recently. I know how these things normally go with guys joining and asking for honey holes and for other people to do all the work for them. I get it. That's not what I'm trying to do. I'm just looking to get some advice on what I'm doing.

So, I moved up here from TX last year. I was fortunate enough to get my first elk (a cow) in WY last year. However, this is my son's first year hunting big game. I am still learning and a lot of this is very new to me. I would love for my son to get an opportunity to harvest a cow elk. We both have tags in the Kamas Oakley unit. I'm not worried about my tag at this point. My whole goal is to get him on an elk. I chose this tag because all told, it offers us the possibility of about 11 weeks of hunting between the different seasons.

We went out this last weekend despite the weather. He was a trooper and didn't complain about the rain, snow, wind, etc. We hiked approximately 8 miles each day and saw nothing. Some of the points that I had picked out were so fogged in that we couldn't glass. We dropped elevation and I don't know how to find glassing spots at lower elevation apparently, so we ended up moving through the woods to try and bump something. Needless to say, we saw and heard nothing.

We spent our time on the southern portion of the unit accessing areas off of 150. This apparently was what the rest of the orange army decided to do as well. I was thinking of trying to go to the Northern part of the unit this next weekend, as it appears there is a little less public access and maybe there won't be as much pressure???

I guess my question is does this strategy make sense? Are there actually access points on the North? Also, I'm still struggling to be able to look at maps and identify truly good areas that allow for glassing. I seem to read it wrong and if we are not at the top of a ridge, we end up in thick forested areas with little to no windows to view from. If anyone can share some info on how you identify glassing spots, I'm all ears.

Here are a few pics from our weekend:
Plant Plant community Ecoregion Natural landscape Natural environment
 

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Goggle Earth is possibly the best way to get an idea of vegetation coverage and glassing locations. The Uinta's are a hard area in a lot of respects because of the vegetation.
 

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When you are just starting out in a area you pretty much just have to get lucky until you get to know the area.

I have found that cutting around the side hill is usually best when you are looking for a vantage spot, I like looking for rock ledges where I can get up on top of them to glass, but this doesn't always guaranty a good viewing area.

As for pressure, if there is access there will be pressure from other hunters. However opening weekend is usually the worst. Hunters will usually have just the weekend to hunt and perhaps Monday and head for home come Tuesday. Second weekend is usually always less crowded but you will always have other orange pumpkins sitting on the hill with you.

The same time frame is good for the general deer season. The army of hunters will show up for opening weekend and be pretty much gone by Tuesday. Some of my best hunting time has been during the week after everyone has left the area.
 

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Cows are all about one thing this time of the year. Graze, graze, graze. Winter is just around the corner. Also, bulls will still be making some noise so it you can hear a few bugles, cows are likely not too far off. Grassy slopes with dark timber on the backside are key areas to check out.
 

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Thats awesome you are getting your son out. Such a beautiful time of year to be in the mountains! This weather front is crazy! There is some access on the northern most part of the unit that likely got hit pretty hard. But as Critter said, the crowd slowly goes away. Especially with this weather. It gets a few more excited, while sending many others home. My experience has shown in some units that I help a lot on are the elk will still remain though harder to spot. As the pressure dies off, they'll be a little easier to find. Not a lot, but a little!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
When you are just starting out in a area you pretty much just have to get lucky until you get to know the area.

I have found that cutting around the side hill is usually best when you are looking for a vantage spot, I like looking for rock ledges where I can get up on top of them to glass, but this doesn't always guaranty a good viewing area.

As for pressure, if there is access there will be pressure from other hunters. However opening weekend is usually the worst. Hunters will usually have just the weekend to hunt and perhaps Monday and head for home come Tuesday. Second weekend is usually always less crowded but you will always have other orange pumpkins sitting on the hill with you.

The same time frame is good for the general deer season. The army of hunters will show up for opening weekend and be pretty much gone by Tuesday. Some of my best hunting time has been during the week after everyone has left the area.
Thank you for the advice. We are hoping the second weekend will be a little less crowded, but we are also planning on trying to get back in a little further to try and get away from a little bit of the road pressure. My son just doesn't have the best mountain legs yet, so I have to be mindful of where he can get into and out of.

That's really good info on the deer season as well. I will be headed down to spend a week in the San Juan Abajo area for my buck tag in a couple weeks. I will be doing it solo, and have the whole week off to find a buck, so I will expect the big rush that first weekend and then let things taper off later in the week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Cows are all about one thing this time of the year. Graze, graze, graze. Winter is just around the corner. Also, bulls will still be making some noise so it you can hear a few bugles, cows are likely not too far off. Grassy slopes with dark timber on the backside are key areas to check out.
I completely misread some of the areas that I had identified. What I thought were grassy areas ended up being thick brush and trees. THey just looked different on Google Earth than the pines and were lighter green so I interpreted it as grass. I think I have that figured out now. There just aren't a ton of grassy slopes in the unit unless you get up above 9000 feet. Not sure if that's were the elk will be or not since the area is getting hit pretty hard with snow this week.
 

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I completely misread some of the areas that I had identified. What I thought were grassy areas ended up being thick brush and trees. THey just looked different on Google Earth than the pines and were lighter green so I interpreted it as grass. I think I have that figured out now. There just aren't a ton of grassy slopes in the unit unless you get up above 9000 feet. Not sure if that's were the elk will be or not since the area is getting hit pretty hard with snow this week.
When high pressured, they will usually stay high until extreme weather forces them down, either really cold or snow. If a storm forces them down lower, they often will go back up once it breaks and clears off. They'll stay on those south-facing slopes to feed with bedding areas in the dark timber on the north-facing side.

We have killed cows at 9,600' in December quite a few times...
 

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Good info. I've also seen during any hunting season that the elk are in the trees 15 minutes before first light and out no earlier than a half hour before. That doesn't mean there not up moving and feeding but I don't see them out in the open. The dropping Aspen leaves will make them easier to spot. It still might be tough getting a clean shot though.
 

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Yes I agree with APD. You'd be lucky to catch one in the open during light if there is good feed in pockets within pines and Aspen. If they visit the open meadow's they'll likely be just inside the edge of the trees where there's cover and still the feed. I'll visit them in the morning and evening and spend more time during the day still hunting, ocassionally stalking up to the edges of meadow's hoping to find one bedded just inside.

This is all with heavy pines, high pressure, and not knowing the area really well in mind. If I knew the area really well, I'd either sit a hole they'll visit for food water while in hiding or I'd sit an escape route. Escape routes may be hard to identify until you find an elk, scare it off, and follow the tracks in the snow.
 

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Thanks, all. This is really helpful. I'm still hoping I can get out this weekend after bronchitis blew my opener. I know the area I planned to hunt as a hiker, but much less well as a hunter. It's good to know that what I've figured out so far isn't totally out the window. Still hunting the area might be a good excuse to pull out my old Lee-Enfield and take advantage of having iron sights.
 

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When it comes down to it elk are where you find them.

One year I had a cow tag and after doing quite a bit of hiking around I got back to my truck and decided to take a drive with my hunting partner. It was noon so we were eating sandwiches inside the truck driving down the road. About 1 pm I asked him if he wanted a candy bar and he said yes that he did. I got out and got a couple of bars out of the back and started down the road again. Less than 100 yards later I saw a cow elk come up out of a creek bed and she was running towards the road. I hit the key to turn the truck off and grabbed a rifle barrel, I had no idea if it was mine or his. I jumped out of the truck and had to run to get in front of it as it was lurching down the road. I got off to the side and took a shot at 20 yards, she ran another 100 and I put the finishing round into her. My hunting partner had finally got out of the truck and was fumbling around for a shell to chamber. He asked me where the elk was at and I told him that it was laying down in the sagebrush about a hundred yards away.

I have seen bulls do the same thing, you just never know when they are going to show up.
 

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I don't hunt the Uintahs because it is THICK...but I know people who do and they find elk. What most will say is that it takes several years to really key in on where they are at. That area, because it is so thick, does not give up secrets easily.

As to finding glassing spots, look for points on a topo map. They should be in white if they are "open". If there is green on them, they are likely locked in and vegetated. Once you find some of those open points, you can confirm it by using Google Earth. Of course, the only real way to know if it's what you want is to mark it down as a possibility, then check it out in person. This obviously takes time, but over a couple years, you'll find good glassing areas and maybe just a few elk too.

The points made about pressure are spot on. Opening day just scares the hell out of deer and elk! After all the pressure of the Sat. opener, I found that they disappear until about Tues. and then are much easier to find until Friday when the 2nd weekend crowd starts to arrive. If you can hunt mid-week, that's the ticket. Crowds will be much less crowded the 2nd weekend, but pressure will still be a factor. If you can find those escape routes, they are money. Mark them for future hunts and then let other hunters push animals to you next year!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I don't hunt the Uintahs because it is THICK...but I know people who do and they find elk. What most will say is that it takes several years to really key in on where they are at. That area, because it is so thick, does not give up secrets easily.

As to finding glassing spots, look for points on a topo map. They should be in white if they are "open". If there is green on them, they are likely locked in and vegetated. Once you find some of those open points, you can confirm it by using Google Earth. Of course, the only real way to know if it's what you want is to mark it down as a possibility, then check it out in person. This obviously takes time, but over a couple years, you'll find good glassing areas and maybe just a few elk too.

The points made about pressure are spot on. Opening day just scares the hell out of deer and elk! After all the pressure of the Sat. opener, I found that they disappear until about Tues. and then are much easier to find until Friday when the 2nd weekend crowd starts to arrive. If you can hunt mid-week, that's the ticket. Crowds will be much less crowded the 2nd weekend, but pressure will still be a factor. If you can find those escape routes, they are money. Mark them for future hunts and then let other hunters push animals to you next year!
This is valuable information. I had no idea when I got hte tags that the area was so densely covered. The area I hunted last year in WY was pretty open. So, basically what I learned last year isn't giving much experience for this year because the terrain differs so greatly. Thanks for the info on the glassing points. I will put it to use!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
When it comes down to it elk are where you find them.

One year I had a cow tag and after doing quite a bit of hiking around I got back to my truck and decided to take a drive with my hunting partner. It was noon so we were eating sandwiches inside the truck driving down the road. About 1 pm I asked him if he wanted a candy bar and he said yes that he did. I got out and got a couple of bars out of the back and started down the road again. Less than 100 yards later I saw a cow elk come up out of a creek bed and she was running towards the road. I hit the key to turn the truck off and grabbed a rifle barrel, I had no idea if it was mine or his. I jumped out of the truck and had to run to get in front of it as it was lurching down the road. I got off to the side and took a shot at 20 yards, she ran another 100 and I put the finishing round into her. My hunting partner had finally got out of the truck and was fumbling around for a shell to chamber. He asked me where the elk was at and I told him that it was laying down in the sagebrush about a hundred yards away.

I have seen bulls do the same thing, you just never know when they are going to show up.
Now, that's how it's done!
 
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