Colorado is a prime destination for local and out-of-state elk hunters, with some of the most abundant herds of elk found in the US these days. Planning and executing your own DIY archery elk hunting in Colorado is easier than you think!
DIY Archery Elk Hunt
Archery Season for Elk Hunting in Colorado
While a variety of weapons (archery, muzzleloaders, and rifles) are allowed, the earliest season available for elk and beer hunters is the archery season.
CPW’s brochure outlines the 2021 archery season as lasting from Sept 2nd through the 30th.
How to Buy Your OTC Tag for Colorado Archery Elk Hunting
Colorado residents and non-residents can buy OTC Tags for the Archery season (September 2nd through 30th). These are distributed above and beyond the draws for licenses.
OTC Tags can be easily found at multiple venues, including:
- CPW locations or contracted retail outlets, where you can buy in-person
- Over the phone (1-800-244-5613)
- Online through the CPW site
Details can be found here.
Out-of-state hunters must buy an elk hunting tag combined with fishing licenses.
Pros and Cons of DIY Archery Elk Hunting in Colorado
If you are hunting solo, or not utilizing an outfitter, there are distinctive pros and cons that you should consider. Ultimately, a lot of it boils down to your mentality and tenacity, as well as how you function without professionals outlining your every step.
- Archery occurs is in the middle of the rutting season, which means there are more elk to be found easily – which in turn means that DIY archery elk hunting in Colorado is more likely to be fruitful. You do not need outfitters necessarily to “find” targets for you.
- With a DIY approach, you can choose your own schedule. You can stalk all day if necessary or follow trails without a lot of interference.
- It is definitely more fulfilling to be able to bring in a trophy by yourself.
- Loneliness and/or self-doubt can get to some. The ability to focus on the hunt depends on your attitude.
- The costs (e.g. fuel) may be higher if you travel solo.
- Safety is a big concern. You should carry a satellite phone or other satellite based device to send/receive messages and potentially share your location should you need help.
- Depending on whether you go solo, there may be additional work required to go from calling to engaging your target, and then moving quickly to take photos, pack the meat etc. There’s more work to be done.
- While the weather is more benign, you still need to be careful you don’t go too far into unknown terrain without a clear idea of where you are.
Gear for a DIY Archery Elk Hunt
While the weather may be milder than late season hunts, DIY archery enthusiasts still need to invest in the right gear, besides the bows and arrows, decoys, callers and binoculars.
The three most important items of gear are likely to be as follows:
- Proper hiking boots that will work in uneven terrain – these may cost several hundred dollars, but they will be worth their weight in cold.
- Proper layered clothing, and warm (e.g. merino wool) socks.
- A lightweight but sturdy backpack that can hold sufficient quantities of meat.
Here is a good source for gear lists.
What to Expect for a DIY Archery Elk Hunt in Colorado
There are more elk typically available during the archery season in Colorado, but for DIY hunters, it is important to consider some facts:
- During the month-long archery season, the two middle weeks get more chaotic since muzzle loading hunters compete with hunters – the first and last weeks may be better.
- You will find more noisy bulls during the rutting season towards end September.
- You are more likely to wait and ambush elk near watering holes and similar grazing spots early in the season.
You can glean some useful hints here.
My favorite elk hunting accessories
Primal Pioneer participates in the Amazon affiliate program. Please see my affiliate disclaimer. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
5 Tips for a Successful Archery Elk Hunt in Colorado
Here are some tips for DIY archers:
- Utilize all available resources. For example, CPW hunt planners ((303)-291-7526) can guide you with many details, including the best spots.
- Identify the right OTC unit where you can hunt, then look at the harvesting statistics and then scout the terrain and road system using Google Earth.
- Get in shape – going from flat land to high mountain terrain, and then stalking and hunting, puts tremendous pressure on your abs, upper/lower legs, ankles and feet.
- Decide if you are going solo or with partner(s) and work out a plan. With DIY hunting, it is imperative that your style of hunting (e.g. early or late September, stalking vs. waiting patiently to ambush) and the time/mental commitment is uniform across your team.
- Don’t take risks – Your health and well-being is more important than the thrill of the hunt.
Primal Pioneer is a food blog and public land hunting resource by Mike and Jennifer Shreckengost. We’re a husband and wife team who combined their two passions – a love of the outdoors and food – into a joint effort with Primal Pioneer! You’ll find resources on planning and executing your own DIY over-the-counter public land big game hunt, along with wild game recipes featuring mostly venison and elk.