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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Where should a backcountry hunter go to find an opportunity to harvest an elk in an OTC unit with archery equipment in Utah?

I teach at a high school which makes archery elk season and really any season difficult to find the time necessary to hunt. I can take personal days and/or a sick day or two (unethically), but am usually so dedicated to my students, my discipline, and my ethical values that I won't... unless I draw OIL like my Idaho moose tag last year. Fortunately for me the school that I teach at does not require me to report for duty until the day after Labor Day and Utah/Colorado both have archery elk seasons that allow me enough days to potentially stumble across an animal.

I am not the best hunter, but I try really hard. My pack the first few years weighed between 80-120 pounds and I carried it more than twelve miles one way up a mountain near Silverthorne, Colorado. I brought more than I need and used a lot less of the things that I brought. Even after several years at slowly becoming less ignorant I still can pride myself on bring the biggest duffle bag on the planet full of clothes and really only using the extra socks out of the available clothing options once the hunt starts. I have lost 50 pounds in the last six months and do average running 12 miles per day now. In fact, I am heading out on a 20 mile run this morning. Perhaps I will toss my 3 bighorn sheep points in Montana and hunt the unlimited section north of Yellowstone next year. I am in the greatest shape of my life at 38.

I do hold a 'master hunter' certification which is kind of a misnomer as I can attest that it neither guarantees nor validates that I am any good at hunting at all, though I have harvest turkey, deer, elk, and moose. It does attest that I am knowledgeable about regulations, laws, ethics, conservation, and have passed a background check. My primary goal for the trip is shot opportunity and gaining more experience being in the presence of bull elk.

To this end I would like to solicit the advice of people local to the state of Utah as the place is your home (I can tell you exactly what unit you must hunt for any realistic chance at a Roosevelt Elk in western Washington).

What unit would you suggest.



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Any bull units get tons of pressure with low success rates. I've hunted most of them and have yet to find one that stands out much from the others. You'll see more elk on an le unit chasing spikes/cows.

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If you want an OTC opportunity at a bull of any size in Utah I would suggest either the North Slope or South Slope Uinta Mountains units. Success is always low, but on either of those units there's a ton of public land and plenty of opportunity to hike back away from the roads if that's your thing. The fishing is good, too. Most of Utah's other OTC any bull units either have low elk numbers or a lot of private land.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
2015 harvest report shows under 12% success for archery on north slope (OTC unit)

Good luck.

-DallanC
I have been really close a couple times in Colorado hunting units with similarly low hunt success percentages. I know the chance of success will be low in all units. I hope the number of days I have, my physical conditioning, and determination will lend some sort of advantage. My only other option is to go to Colorado, but the season opens earlier in Utah. Being a teacher that longer early season fits well with my schedule.

Thanks for all who have given input so far. The question really has been better clarified and currently stands at...

Of the OTC units available to hunt branch antlered bulls which would be the unit most likely of all to yield a shot opportunity to someone willing ready and capable to work for it (low success across the board acknowledged).

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Of the OTC units available to hunt branch antlered bulls which would be the unit most likely of all to yield a shot opportunity to someone willing ready and capable to work for it (low success across the board acknowledged).
I'm going to stick with North Slope or South Slope Uintas. Elk are hard to get to, but they are there and on public land.

Here are my opinions on our any bull units:

Henry mtns, San Juan Montezuma Canyon, San Rafael North - Don't waste your time.

Ogden, East Canyon, Chalk Creek - Good elk numbers, but private land makes it difficult.

Box Elder East, Morgan-South Rich - Almost 100% private land.

West Desert East, Fillmore Oak Creek, Beaver West - Enough public access, but low elk numbers.

Others - I don't know enough to comment.
 

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Bulls are out there. Especially if you're not afraid of hiking. Sounds like you'll do fine with some of the info already provided from others above. I don't have more to add, just a fun trail cam pic from a bull we scouted but couldn't get into last year on some public ground.
 

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To the OP:

Utah is not a destination elk state regarding OTC elk hunting, regardless of the season (for a reason). Limited Entry is entirely different. I would point you to Idaho for a closer drive and better chances at an OTC bull elk hunt. Unless you draw an LE tag, Non residents will get more bang for your buck in neighboring states hunting OTC.

Why do you want to hunt OTC Archery Elk in Utah? I assume you are coming from Washington state. Idaho is just next door with better opportunity. I'm curious why Utah OTC Elk.

Now, if you want to hunt OTC Ptarmigan, well sir...this is the place! plus it's closer to you than Colorado, although Colorado is probably easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
To the OP:

Utah is not a destination elk state regarding OTC elk hunting, regardless of the season (for a reason). Limited Entry is entirely different. I would point you to Idaho for a closer drive and better chances at an OTC bull elk hunt. Unless you draw an LE tag, Non residents will get more bang for your buck in neighboring states hunting OTC.

Why do you want to hunt OTC Archery Elk in Utah? I assume you are coming from Washington state. Idaho is just next door with better opportunity. I'm curious why Utah OTC Elk.

Now, if you want to hunt OTC Ptarmigan, well sir...this is the place! plus it's closer to you than Colorado, although Colorado is probably easier.
I have to be back to teach high school on sept 5. Idaho season starts Aug 30. Doesn't give me long to hunt. I can be in Utah on Aug 21...

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I have a lot of experience hunting the North and South slopes. It's a big area and I can help narrow down your focus. Will you be hunting alone?
 

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I have to be back to teach high school on sept 5. Idaho season starts Aug 30. Doesn't give me long to hunt. I can be in Utah on Aug 21...

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Fair enough

First off I would get this book and read it front to back twice-> https://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Utahs-High-Uintas-Overnight/dp/0762739118

It's a good start and will point you in the right direction if you know what to look for.

Early archery season is difficult in the uintas because the elk are not very vocal (they aren't super vocal anytime) and there is thousands upon thousands of acres often in thick country for them to hide out. In many parts of the range glassing can be more difficult depending on the area. In Utah most guys will sit water/wallows in the early season and chase bugles the last week. In the uintas there is water everywhere and specific wallows are not hit as regularly as in dryer mtn ranges. Many Utah hunters will put out salt blocks and sit them (tree stand/blind) during the early season. This is legal here and a common practice.

If you can scout in July/early August it would help in finding wallows and/or setting a salt location. This would be your best bet for early season success. Of course there is always showing up, still hunting about with the occasional soft cow call and you never know what you will get.

The Uintas are rocky and travel can be difficult. If you are going to go in deep you better have a horse to carry out that elk. That is not to say that elk cannot be found closer to roads or trailheads because they can. I would be mobile, hit different trail heads, go up a mile and look for sign, do this until you find a good amount of sign and then hunt.

No self respecting successful Uintas elk hunter will give you a spot because they are earned and hard to come by. It took me several years to find my spot and I wouldn't even tell anyone the drainage and that covers over 15 square miles. Not being rude, just putting it in perspective. I would say that I have hunted both north and south slope and I prefer the south slope, but that's just me.

You should also read Cameron Hanes Backcountry Bowhunting if you can find a copy

I hope this helps--If anything, the Uintas are a special place that I really have come to respect and enjoy
 

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Also use the search function on this site and search 'unitas elk'. I swear I have typed up essays upon essays responding to the annual uintas elk request thread. I honestly don't know why I do it--guess I just get board this time of year. Funny thing is, the guys asking the questions never come back and tell us how they did....strange huh :p
 

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i winged the North slope last year and got tag soup but had a blast. Called in a monster 2 weeks before the opener but he was smart and ran up high when he knew it was danger zone. Still best hunt i ever had , like they have said it is a HUGE place and you can get in and never see people all week and see the most beautiful sunrises ever. I was rifle last year and going archery this year to get in earlier and hopefully not pack in 100lbs of clothes and food , main goal is to pack OUT meat hahahah
 
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