Elk Hunting in Colorado GMU 68 - Saguache County

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.

GMU 68 - Saguache County
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Scores


Ease of Drawing
98
 
98
Success
7
 
7
Trophy Potential
0
N/A
Public Access
86
 
86
Ease of Terrain
0
N/A
Room to Breathe
46
 
46
Opportunity
25
 
25
Convenience
0
N/A
Ease of Effort
45
 
45
68
HuntScore

Access Notes


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Bounded on N by County Highway 114; on E by US Highway 285; on S by County Roads G and 41G, US Forest Service Roads 675 and 676, US Forest Service Trails 796 and 787 and Saguache-Mineral County line; on W by Continental Divide.

The area is dominated by public lands and hunting access is excellent in most areas. 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

Saguache

Size

544 Square Miles (348,166 Acres)

Land Ownership

13% Private, 86% Public, 63% USFS, 15% BLM, 8% State

Latitude/Longitude

38.0244, -106.4739

Amenities

There are 0 hospitals, 10 hotels, 8 campgrounds, and 0 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. Hunter success rates are lower than most other parts of the state because it is challenging to find these animals.

The ratio of bulls to cows is relatively high for an unlimited unit. Hunters willing to go into tough terrain can be rewarded.

Elk generally occupy the area from the grassland and shrub winter range adjacent to the foothills to above timberline on the alpine in the summer.

Elk movement to the winter range is usually initiated by increasing snow cover and decreasing forage availability, along with hunting pressure. This movement generally begins in November and continues until January. The movement is elevational and in an easterly direction.

Wintering concentrations of elk are usually found in the foothills between Carnero and Saguache Creeks. Saguache Park can be an important wintering area, but its use is entirely dependant on snow cover with increased snow there is decreased use.

Hunting pressure will move elk from the area West into the Gunnison Basin where elk hunting is controlled by limited licenses. Once the main rifle seasons conclude, elk will move back into the area.

Elk movement back to summer range usually follows the snowline and in summer and fall the elk have dispersed throughout the area.

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


Vegetation types range from heavy timber to vast areas of grass and low shrubs. 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
640
Licenses Drawn
640
Licenses Surplus
0
Resident Quota
522
Nonresident Quota
118
Landowner Quota
10
Youth Quota
10
49.6%
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
EM068O4R
M
R
O4
EM068O1R
M
R
O1
EM068O1M
M
M
O1
EF068P5R
F
R
P5
EF068O2R
F
R
O2
EF068O3R
F
R
O3
EF068O4R
F
R
O4
EF068O1M
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
1,899
Total Harvest
128
Harvest Male
122
Harvest Female
6
7%
Average Success
Manner Season Type Sex Hunters Harvest Male Female Youth
A
A
N/A
N/A 427 20
ALL
ALL
N/A
N/A 1899 128
M
M
N/A
N/A 60 12
R
D
R
N/A 1 1
R
EP
PLO
N/A 7 2
R
O1
LL
M
216 18
R
O1
N/A
N/A 216 18
R
O2
LL
F
9 0
R
O3
N/A
N/A 585 44
R
O4
LL
F
10 0
R
O4
LL
M
66 5
R
O4
N/A
N/A 776 5
R
P0
N/A
N/A 7 2
R
R
N/A
N/A 1412 96
HuntScore Tip: With more than 300,000 hunting licenses sold in Colorado each year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife thinks it's impossible to contact every hunter. So, harvest data is not actual. It's a statistical sample calculation based on license sales data and an estimate of hunter numbers and hunter success. Hunter activity and success is gathered through the hunter survey sent to all Colorado licensed hunters. Response is voluntary and therefore not complete.

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  • Harvest stats by hunt_code, manner, season, sex, type
  • Average harvest rates
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  • Overall harvest trends

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