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Colorado trophy unit yields high success on bulls and bucks

We've worked many years with this outfitter, who operates in one of Colorado's special trophy units, where both residents and non-residents must draw tags in order to hunt elk or mule deer during all seasons. This unit is managed to provide quality hunting for both animals.

You need preference points to draw a tag for this hunt, or you can sometimes buy a license voucher from a landowner.

Plan to stay in a wall tent, but during the later hunts, the outfitter a ranch house. The outfitter's family owns 360 acres right there, including hayfields and rimrock.

The deer hunting is excellent for bucks from 26 to 28 inches, and there are a few in the 30-inch class and up to 36 inches. This unit has produced several bucks scoring over 250 B&C in the past 10 years.

There are many bulls from 290 to 330, and the bigger bulls score 350 to 380. Your best chance to take a big bull is during the September muzzleloader season.

We've talked with many hunters lately who have been disappointed in the trophy size of bulls taken in Colorado's best units. Many hunters apply year after year for a tag in the northwestern units. To draw a tag in those units this year will require you to have 18 to 21 preference points, depending on the zone. If you have 10 to 15 preference points, keep in mind that many, many hunters are ahead of you, so you might have to apply for another eight or 10 years to draw a permit.

In all those units it is pretty easy to find bulls in the 300 to 330 class during the bugling season, and there is an occasional bigger bull. Just as in the unit where this outfitter operates, very few bulls exceed 350. In the northwestern units, some of the bigger bulls spend most of their time either on private land or in Dinosaur National Monument. Outfitters we have talked with in these units tell us that a 350 bull might be the largest they see all season.

This unit is not any easier, but it does have big bulls for those with a bit of luck and the ability to hold off on shooting a lesser bull. Trying to find a big bull in this unit on your own is difficult, especially if you don't have private access or horses. Still, if you won't settle for anything less than a 350 class bull, you probably should be pinning your hopes on drawing an early season Arizona tag or drawing a premium Utah tag before the state finishes cropping off most of the really old bulls.

On most hunts you must book a year or more in advance because the outfitter has a good clientele who have been applying for tags for years, so you have to get in line.

If you're accumulating preference points, call us to reserve a spot in a future year. The second and third seasons usually fill up eight months to a year befor the hunt. Monday is the deadline to apply for Colorado tags.

Click on photos for larger images

Unlike the famous Gunnison Basin, this area was hardly affected by the winter of 2007/2008. "We have so much winter range in our area that the deer weren't hurt at all," the outfitter said.

Hunter success is normally 100 percent on both species.

If you don't want to apply year after year, you can buy a landowner voucher. These are typically $6,000 or more for deer or elk, slig

htly less for bowhunting vouchers. You can apply just for a preference point until you get enough that you'll be guaranteed to draw a tag, or you can apply in the unit until you draw.

You can apply online for tags in Colorado, and the deadline is in early April. We don't tell do-it-yourselfers where to apply, but if you want a guided hunt, we can line you up. The outfitter requires a small deposit to hold your spot until you draw a tag.

 Hunt EK3810
Hunt, guide ratio  Price
Elk, 5 days, 2x1 $5,500
Deer, 5 days, 2x1 $4,500
Preference points needed Licenses
Rifle elk, 13 to 15; muzzleloader or archery elk, 15; rifle deer, 7 to 17, depending on the season; bow deer, 5; muzzleloader deer, 11. Apply by early April or buy a landowner license voucher, which could cost more than the hunt. Click here for application details and license prices.
Hunter success Trophy size
Typically 100%. Over all seasons the outfitter accommodates 15 to 20 elk hunters a year and roughly the same number of deer hunters. There are many bull elk in the 290 to 330 class. The bigger bulls taken in this unit each year score in the 350 to 380 range, occasionally even bigger. Bucks gross-scoring over 200 B&C are taken yearly in this unit. Many bucks from 26 to 30 inches are taken yearly with quite a few 30 to 35-inchers.
Lodging Licenses
Wall tents through early October. Old house with no electricity and no hot water on later hunts. You must apply by April 1. On-line applications are OK. Be sure to apply in Colorado to build preference points, even if you're not ready to book a hunt yet.
Notes: If you want a good elk hunt for a very reasonable price, we recommend applying in the best elk units in four or five states a year. The advantage of this hunt is that you will definitely draw a permit eventually because the state issues preference points to unsuccessful applicants. Also, you're allowed to apply for a preference point until you accumulate enough points to draw. You can add a deer if you have enough preference points. Click here for details on deer hunting with this outfitter. Call for the combo price.