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Preparing for My First Colorado Elk Hunt

Tips on honing my skills, scouting with the onX Hunt app, and gearing up for high-altitude challenges during my October Hunting Trip.

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This October I am going on my first elk hunt in Colorado. I started preparing for this in June and I know that seems like a long time for some people, but for a hunt like this, it's not long enough. Between the range time, scouting, purchasing gear, and getting in physical shape, I have grown so much as a hunter from this experience already. Along with getting ready for the hunt, I had to apply for my out of state hunting license. I strongly recommend taking the time to learn the rules and regulations for the state(s) you will be hunting. If you have any questions, you can call the state's Department of Natural Resources.

Game and Scouting

Like all hunts, you need to learn about your game. In this case it's elk, and I have done a lot of research to learn their behaviors. Knowing your game is one of the most important criteria for a successful hunt. Not only that, but I need to make sure I know for a fact that my kill is legal.

I have never been to the area I plan on hunting, and that leaves me at a big disadvantage when it comes to scouting and planning before I leave. Luckily, I found the onX Hunt app and have been able to learn about the area as best as possible. Going to Colorado for this hunt will be a huge change in altitude and terrain. The app has allowed me to see points of entry and areas to avoid, such as road closures and private property lines. I highly recommend this app, as it is full of useful information. While I will likely run into something unexpected, scouting the area will allow me to make more knowledgeable decisions, rather than just winging it.

Range Time

Range time is important because you might be taking a firearm you haven't shot before or haven't shot much of. In my case, I'm taking a 300 Win Mag that I had not shot before. Honestly, my range time was great! The gun scope was zeroed in and my shots were spot on. I won't lie, the 300 Win Mag did have more of a kick than I'm used too but it wasn't so bad that I needed to think about using another gun.

One thing that everyone should consider when hunting out of state is to make time to visit a range there before your hunt. With the change in altitude my gun will shoot differently than what I'm used to. I am curious to see how much of an impact altitude really has.

Hunting Gear

Your hunting gear will make or break your trip. It's all about the layers and if you don't go into your hunt with the best base layer, you will likely regret your decision. If you are going to be hunting in colder weather like me, the best material for your base layer will be merino wool. However, I heard that if you end up getting wet, you're going to be carrying around a lot of extra weight. That is why I recommend your top layer be something waterproof!

Other layers needed include pullovers, pants, a heavyweight fleece jacket, vest, and don't forget socks! Obviously, the temperature you are hunting in will determine the number of layers you need, just make sure you can stay as warm as possible while being able to layer down to stay cool.

It's important that I mention footwear here. Going into the Colorado mountains, I decided to buy two pairs of boots. One pair is lightweight and will allow me to move easier over the terrain. The other pair is more for climbing mountains and provides more support. Both are waterproof. The last thing I want is cold, wet feet.

Physical Requirements

I know I haven't mentioned the physical fitness part and well, that's because I haven't really applied myself the way I should have. While I have been hiking whenever I get the chance, I am nowhere near in the kind of shape I need to be. I should have done some endurance and weight training to aid in my hunt. Regardless, I'm so excited for this trip and still have several things to do before I'm ready to go, including washing all my hunting clothes with some Dead Down Wind detergent. If you think there's something I missed, please let me know! Be on the lookout for my follow up post sometime in November!