Elk Hunting in Colorado GMU 36 - Eagle County

Large blocks of private land in GMUs 35 and 36 provide refuge areas and can make hunting difficult.

GMU 36 - Eagle County


Ease of Drawing
Trophy Potential
Public Access
Ease of Terrain
Room to Breathe
Ease of Effort

Access Notes

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Bounded on N by Elk Creek to Piney Ridge, to Eagle




275 Square Miles (176,089 Acres)

Land Ownership

17% Private, 83% Public, 77% USFS, 4% BLM, 2% Other


39.7021, -106.4310


There are 20 hospitals, 20 hotels, 17 campgrounds, and 16 grocery stores within a 20 mile radius.

Elk Notes

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Elk are scattered from about 7,000ft to above timberline. As hunting pressure increases, they seek the deeper canyons and dark timber areas way from roads. Concentrating on the large stands of dark timber and the larger wilderness areas will increase your chance of finding a big bull on public lands. Large blocks of private land in GMUs 35 and 36 provide refuge areas and can make hunting difficult.

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

Elevation climbs from 6,000ft with sage and piñon to over 14,000ft with alpine vegetation starting at 10,500ft. Vegetation types in this unit are largely determined by elevation and aspect. The mountain peaks above approximately 11,600 feet in the Gore Range contain mostly bare rock or alpine communities. Spruce-fir occurs mostly between the elevations of 8,000 and 11,600 ft.

Aspen and aspen-conifer mixes dominate the slopes from 7,000 to 8,500 feet. Mountain shrubs show up on lower slopes near 7,000 feet. In the western two-thirds of the unit, piñon-juniper covers the foothills, and sagebrush parks appear on the more level sites as elevation drops. Aspen, an early successional species, is found mostly on sites that have been burned or disturbed within the past 150 years.

Riparian vegetation parallels creeks and rivers. Elk prefer areas with a diversity of vegetation types in close proximity to each other. These areas occur because of disturbance and changes in slope, aspect and microclimates. The best habitat areas generally have a ratio of 40% cover to 60% open foraging habitat.

The vegetation in this unit can be categorized into five main groups: cropland, riparian, shrublands, forests, and alpine. Croplands are found in the valleys at the low elevations and are mostly hay grounds of timothy, orchard grass, wheatgrasses, and alfalfa.

Riparian vegetation is found along the major creeks and rivers. These communities support the greatest abundance and diversity of plant and animal species.

Cover types range from spruce-fir to blue spruce, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, aspen, narrowleaf cottonwood, and willow as you go from high to low elevations.

Shrublands consist of sagebrush, mountain shrublands, and grassland communities. Sagebrush is the most common land cover at the lower elevations. Rabbitbrush, western and slender wheatgrass, and native broadleaf plants commonly grow with the sagebrush.

Mountain shrubs include serviceberry, snowberry, mountain mahogany, chokecherry, bitterbrush and a small amount of Gamblefts oak. The shrublandsft grasses and forbs provide forage for elk in the spring months. Grasslands occur on the more level sites in forested areas (large bunchgrasses such as Thurberfts fescue, wildrye, needlegrass, and brome) and in the alpine areas (Idaho and Thurberfts fescue, Sandberg bluegrass, blue bunch wheat grass mixed with forbs). Forests fall into 5 major groups: piñon-juniper, aspen and aspen-conifer mix, Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, and spruce-fir.

piñon-juniper woodlands occur in the lower elevation foothills. They provide good thermal and hiding cover but poor forage. Aspen and mixed aspenconifer woodlands occupy the middle elevations. The understory consists of emerging conifers (where aspen is not the climax specie), grasses and forbs, and some shrubs.

This community provides some of the most important calving habitat and summer cover and forage for elk. Douglas fir shares the middle elevation zone mostly on the moister sites usually on north facing aspects, but is less represented than the aspen woodlands. It is a long-lived species valued for wildlife habitat diversity, scenic value, and big game cover. Lodgepole pine grows in even aged stands and below the spruce-fir.

In mature stands, the dense overstory limits the growth of understory forage, but provides good cover. Spruce-fir (Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir) dominates the higher elevations up to tree line. This habitat provides excellent summer cover for elk. Alpine sites occur on high mountain peaks and basins.

Grasses, sedges, and numerous forbs are present. Short willows grow in moister areas. These sites provide important elk summer range.

Elk Drawing Stats (2018)

Total Quota
Licenses Drawn
Licenses Surplus
Resident Quota
Nonresident Quota
Landowner Quota
Youth Quota
Average Draw Odds
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HuntScore Tip: Over-the-counter with caps licenses are licenses that are sold over-the-counter but limited in number and only available as first-come first-served. You snooze - you loose.

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