Elk Hunting in Colorado GMU 79 - Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache Counties

Elk hunting is good but requires hunters to pursue animals in challenging terrain. Overall success rates for elk hunters in unlimited units in the San Luis Valley are generally lower than the statewide average.

GMU 79 - Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache Counties

Scores


Ease of Drawing
83
 
83
Success
0
N/A
Trophy Potential
25
 
25
Public Access
83
 
83
Ease of Terrain
35
 
35
Room to Breathe
89
 
89
Opportunity
50
 
50
Convenience
75
 
75
Ease of Effort
0
N/A
86
HuntScore

Access Notes


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Bounded on N by US Forest Service trails 787 and 796, US Forest Service roads 676 and 675, Saguache County Roads 41G and G; on E by US Highway 285; on S by US Highway 160; on W by County Highway 149, US Forest Service roads 600 and 600-3A and La Garita Driveway (ATV trail).

GMU 79 contains some private land, there is plenty of public land in this unit. Throughout the area, access varies from moderate to very difficult. Hunting can be good for those willing to go into tough terrain. Hunting is also challenging because animals can move quickly to large areas of private land, and onto Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Baca National Wildlife Refuge where hunting is prohibited.

You must have permission to hunt on private land. Trespassing is a significant issue in the valley.

County

Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache

Size

507 Square Miles (324,637 Acres)

Land Ownership

17% Private, 83% Public, 80% USFS, 2% BLM, 1% State

Latitude/Longitude

37.7760, -106.4918

Amenities

There are 1 hospitals, 20 hotels, 13 campgrounds, and 6 grocery stores within a 20 mile radius.

Elk Notes


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Elk hunting is good but requires hunters to pursue animals in challenging terrain. Overall success rates for elk hunters in unlimited units in the San Luis Valley are generally lower than the statewide average. Weather is a dominant factor for hunters. Snow will cause herds to move down quickly from high elevation.

Success for elk hunters in the later seasons increases with winter weather. However, small amounts of snow can make travel difficult. Hunters are urged to check weather conditions as much as possible. Habitat is excellent and the elk population is growing steadily.

Population is still at the low end of the objective so cow tags have been reduced slightly to help bolster the population. The West Fork fire of 2013 29 should provide long-term habitat benefits for this population. This unit is primarily winter range for elk and success is highly dependent on snow pushing animals into the area. The unit, however, doesn't produce trophy-quality animals that are found in other limited units in Colorado.

HuntScore Tip

Public land and private land percentages can sometime be misleading. A unit may have 80% public land, but a particluar species may only occupy 20% on the entire area. And that 20% species distribution may lie 100% within private lands. Does that sound confusing? Just remember that there are always exceptions to the rule, and land ownership is just one piece of the puzzle.

Management Plan

Elk Management Plan

State Agency Website

Visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Photos and Terrain Notes


The San Luis Valley is a vast 8,000-square-mile area that provides a wide variety of terrain at elevations that range from 7,500 feet to 14,000 feet. The rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains define the valleyfts east side. The middle of the valley is flat farm land that is privately owned. The Rio Grande and the Conejos River provide long riparian areas that cut through high-elevation alpine forests to lower elevation cottonwood and willow stands.

The west is bordered by the Rio Grande National Forest and the San Juan mountain range.

Elk Drawing Stats (2019)


Total Quota
730
Licenses Drawn
610
Licenses Surplus
115
Resident Quota
485
Nonresident Quota
125
Landowner Quota
0
Youth Quota
54
91%
Average Draw Odds
Choose a hunt below to take a deeper dive into quotas, drawing odds, drawing trends, and harvest data.
Stats Apply For Sex Manner Season
EF079O1M
F
M
O1
EF079O1R
F
R
O1
EF079O2R
F
R
O2
EF079O3R
F
R
O3
EF079O4R
F
R
O4
EM079O1M
M
M
O1
EM079O1R
M
R
O1
EM079O2R
M
R
O2
EM079O3R
M
R
O3
HuntScore Tip: Colorado divides the state into distinct hunting areas called Game Management Units or GMUs (see map). To prevent over harvesting, a limited number of licenses by species are assigned to be sold in each GMU. The number of limited licenses available in each GMU is called the quota.

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Elk Harvest Stats (2018)


Total Hunters
1,281
Total Harvest
150
Harvest Male
96
Harvest Female
54
16.4%
Average Success
Manner Season Hunters Harvest
R
L0
6 2
R
O3
84 20
R
L0
6 2
R
EP
7 0
R
O4
91 4
R
O3
69 0
R
O2
82 7
R
O1
40 4
R
O2
83 15
R
P0
7 0
R
O1
151 11
M
M
35 9
R
O4
91 4
R
O3
153 20
R
O2
165 22
R
O1
191 15
R
D
20 15
HuntScore Tip: In some smaller units you may not see any data reported for a season. There are instances where not enough hunters respond to the post-hunt survey inquiries and therefore it isn't possible to report any data.