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CO Unit 54/55 Advice

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CO Unit 54/55 Advice

Postby fish19 » 10 11, 2017 •  [Post 1]

Hi all,

Just moved up to Gunnison unexpectedly for a job and looking for some advice for 2nd season otc. I've got a map and will be scouting as much as I can the next 10 days before the season starts. I would love any general advice on areas to go. I am not looking for a trophy bull, just to fill the freezer and eat well this year. I am used to Wyoming hunts and hiking in far and packing out elk on my back. In general I've been looking at fossil ridge wilderness, maybe something near ohio pass/kebler and heard it might be worth checking out the Paonia side. I would very much appreciate any thoughts/advice just to even give myself a good opportunity of encountering elk as I'm going into this hunt a bit blind. Thanks in advance!
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Re: CO Unit 54/55 Advice

Postby Elkduds » 10 11, 2017 •  [Post 2]

Welcome to the forum. Some basics: after you have 3 posts you can send/receive private messages, which is how specific unit intel is usually shared. Hope you'll share your hunting interests, some biographical info, etc so we know who we are corresponding with. 54/55 is awesome elk country, heavily hunted. Good luck up there.
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Re: CO Unit 54/55 Advice

Postby saddlesore » 10 11, 2017 •  [Post 3]

Paonia side might be better.( Soap Basin) If you go over Ohio pass towards Keebler and hunt that, that would be better than south of that. You are close to the boundary of 54 though at that location. Most of the elk in the Ohio creek drainage , ( Castle Ceeks, Pass Creeks,etc, head for the Carlelton Ranch (private, no hunting)down on Ohio Creek after the first 1-2 days of 1st rifle season. Any elk left are pretty far back in, close to the area 53 boundary. I never hunted Fossil Ridge,but hear it is good.
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Re: CO Unit 54/55 Advice

Postby SoCo Mark » 10 11, 2017 •  [Post 4]

Ditto on what Saddlesore says concerning the Ohio Valley. There is a lot of great elk country that is public that is virtually devoid of elk. If you are living in Gunny now just keep your ears open. You'll hear people talk about the enormous herd on the castleton, many of which are there year 'round. Or, just drive up there and see for yourself. A couple of years back, we "counted" about 700 on the castleton, the night before first rifle. I doubt they rarely leave..
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Re: CO Unit 54/55 Advice

Postby fish19 » 10 11, 2017 •  [Post 5]

Thanks for the advice! Just went up and hiked to the top of a ridge in fossil wilderness this evening. Found fresh elk tracks/sign from today, but it was brutally thick to hunt and then turned to boulder-field at the top. As excited as I was to find sign, I might have to reconsider a new approach for that area given the choked nature of the vegetation. From my view way up high and google maps, doesn't look like many open areas.

As far as the Castleton ranch, I actually just herd about that today from a mechanic. It's hard to believe they'd all be down there that fast, but I'm sure you're not lying. I may have to go see for myself. I was planning on scouting that country, or those drainages tomorrow. Wonder if it's a waste...I'll definitely try to get over to the paonia side of things too. If you guys have any more advice or tips for the area I'd love to hear it. Thanks again!

Also, per elkduds request...I am a 31 year old biologist originally from n. california. Started hunting at 23 when I moved to Wyoming and have been hooked ever since. I'm a huge skier, climber and biker but nothing beats hunting season. I've been a DIY guy since the beginning including doing all my own butchering/processing. I still feel like an amateur, but love getting out in the woods and making it happen in my own style.
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Re: CO Unit 54/55 Advice

Postby Swede » 10 11, 2017 •  [Post 6]

Fish, I know nothing about hunting Colorado. I hear they have a few elk there, but it is just a rumor as best I can tell. Anyway welcome to the forum. I hope you get all the information you need. There are a lot of great folks here. Feel free to join in the conversations. We have a good time and hone our skills through our discussions.
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Re: CO Unit 54/55 Advice

Postby SoCo Mark » 10 12, 2017 •  [Post 7]

The thing about the Castleton, and the surrounding ranches and subdivisions, is that there is a variety of habitat. If you drive up the Ohio Valley, you immediately see the hay meadows, and elk can be seen in those any day of the year, any time of day. I've on numerous occasions seen elk in the hay meadows in the July and August, mid-day. However, the immediately surrounding patches of aspen/conifer are also private (according to the assessors website and or google earth). The elk really have no reason to leave as they have it all- food, water, shelter and most importantly safety.
The rumor is virtually no hunting happens on the castleton. I don't know if it is true or not for sure but I never hear of any one hunting the ranch. IF there was limited hunting, it would more than likely push them off from time to time. IF there is absolutely none, the elk have no reason to leave.

People think I'm am upset at all of this, but it saddens me more than anything. I remember the not so distant good ole days where that portion of the unit offered really great public land elk hunting. Don't get me wrong, one still had to work hard for an elk, the area just is not conducive to shooting one from the road. But for those that put the effort to get into the wilderness and put in some effort, they were usually rewarded nicely. Now, it is a crap shoot, at best, and I'm not a big lover of gambling. Still, it is a beautiful place to be in October and I'm getting to the age where it's almost enough to get out, hike, climb and explore, no matter the outcome. If/when I go there, it is for nostalgia's sake more than anything.

It's just that I would really like to fill my freezer every now and then...
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Re: CO Unit 54/55 Advice

Postby saddlesore » 10 12, 2017 •  [Post 8]

Socomark.
Indeed there is no hunting on the Castleton. Talking to CPW, they have even tried to get a youth mentor hunt there ,but the owner ( New Yorker) will not budge.He claims it is the liability.

The sad thing is that CPW caved to the local business owners in Gunnison this year and changed that 500w/ cap elk tags( 2nd Rifle)s to OTC unlimited in 54 . This is suppose to draw more hunters in to help that bottom $$$ line in Gunnison,although there is no more elk than there has been.

Years pass,the elk herd number was in the 6000's. The few years of those 500w/cap either sex tags in 2nd rifle and and generous allotment of draw tags in1st rifle cut that down to an estimated 3-4000 where it is today.

Filling an elk tag on the east side of 54 come shard now days.It can be done, but hard work is involved. Going in at the
Mill Creek Trail head,up over the ridge to the north and down into Squirrel creek , the go west into those flats where the beaver ponds are,puts you close to the Castleton ranch west boundary, where at times the elk head into that timber to bed down.
Those are pretty nasty climbs and I don't even hunt it and I have mules to ride in with.
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Re: CO Unit 54/55 Advice

Postby Elkduds » 10 12, 2017 •  [Post 9]

PM sent :idea:
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