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
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Scores


Ease of Drawing
100
 
100
Success
10
 
10
Trophy Potential
0
N/A
Public Access
63
 
63
Ease of Terrain
0
N/A
Room to Breathe
81
 
81
Opportunity
18
 
18
Convenience
0
N/A
Ease of Effort
51
 
51
68
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

457 Square Miles (292,294 Acres)

Land Ownership

38% Private, 63% Public, 55% USFS, 6% BLM, 2% State

Latitude/Longitude

37.7760, -106.4879

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 (2020)


Total Quota
730
Licenses Drawn
609
Licenses Surplus
121
Resident Quota
458
Nonresident Quota
96
Landowner Quota
196
Youth Quota
54
95.3%
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
EM079O3R
M
R
O3
EM079O2R
M
R
O2
EM079O1R
M
R
O1
EM079O1M
M
M
O1
EF079O4R
F
R
O4
EF079O3R
F
R
O3
EF079O2R
F
R
O2
EF079O1R
F
R
O1
EF079O1M
F
M
O1
HuntScore Tip: Always apply for the unit that is your first choice if your goal is to accumulate points for use toward a future quality hunt. Points needed can change significantly from year to year.

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Elk Harvest Stats (2019)


Total Hunters
951
Total Harvest
96
Harvest Male
68
Harvest Female
28
10%
Average Success
Manner Season Type Sex Hunters Harvest Male Female Youth
A
A
N/A
N/A 262 13
ALL
ALL
N/A
N/A 951 96
M
M
N/A
N/A 32 0
R
P0
N/A
N/A 47 28
R
O4
N/A
N/A 77 0
R
O4
LL
F
77 0
R
O3
LL
M
85 16
R
O3
N/A
N/A 161 16
R
O3
LL
F
776 0
R
O2
LL
M
95 8
R
O2
N/A
N/A 186 17
R
O2
LL
F
91 9
R
O1
N/A
N/A 180 17
R
O1
LL
M
140 17
R
O1
LL
F
40 0
R
EP
PLO
N/A 47 28
R
D
R
N/A 6 5
R
R
N/A
N/A 657 83
HuntScore Tip: Ever hunt a unit with a 100% success rate and not see any deer? If you're nodding your head to any of these scenarios then you're one of the people who knows that statistics are a good guide, but they aren't a guarantee.

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  • Harvest trends across multiple years
  • Harvest stats by hunt_code, manner, season, sex, type
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