Finding bulls is tough. They have survived by knowing how to avoid hunters. Concentrate on rugged terrain away from other hunters. Weather often dictates the success rate in this area.
Bounded on N by Ouray-San Juan County line; on E by San Juan-Hinsdale County line and Animas River; on S by US Highway 160; on W by Montezuma-La Plata County line, Dolores-San Juan County line, San Miguel-San Juan County line and Ouray-San Juan County line.
Public land is abundant in GMU 74 with much of it quite remote. Where road access is good expect hunting pressure.
14% Private, 86% Public, 76% USFS, 7% BLM, 3% State
The elk herd is below objective but the population is stable and increasing slightly. CPW is working to increase the population and has reduced cow harvest in this unit over the past several years. This has been done by decreasing cow and either-sex licenses. Most elk in the unit are at higher elevation areas until snow accumulation pushes them down.
Hunters willing to go into rugged terrain could be rewarded. Consider hunting near Engineer Mountain, in the Hermosa Creek drainage west of the Purgatory ski resort. and up Junction Creek just northwest of Durango. Finding bulls is tough.
They have survived by knowing how to avoid hunters. Concentrate on rugged terrain away from other hunters. Weather often dictates the success rate in this area.
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.
Elk Management Plan
Elevations range from about 6,000 feet near the New Mexico border to more than 12,000 feet near Silverton. An abundance of vegetation provides good summer range, but winter range is declining because of development. This area is in the Colorado Plateau Ecoregion, which consists of shrublands and forests. Vegetation types include:
alpine over 12,000 feet elevation; spruce/fir stands down to 10,000 feet; Gambel oak, serviceberry, and ponderosa
pine above 6,500 feet; and piñon/juniper/sagebrush and agricultural fields below 6,500 feet.
There are 2 OTC hunts in this unit. Go Pro to view the details!
Weather can vary by elevation. See how weather varies by elevation within a unit by selecting an elevation range. Elevation ranges are based on weather stations in or near the unit. Not all weather elements are available within the unit.
Use temperature ranges to plan and prepare for your hunt. Large swings indicate a good layering system should be used.
Be sure to make note of the extreme temperatures as these often pose the greatest risk to hunters.
If you plan on hunting in higher elevation, as a rule of thumb, expect the tempture to decrease roughly 5° for every 1000' in elevation gain.
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The wilderness area boundary north of Pagosa often holds elk when snow pushes them down. Areas south of Pagosa Springs and east of Highway 84 can provide good hunting as snow begins to accumulate.
The elk population is holding steady and herds are at objective levels. Animals are distributed widely throughout the eastern portion of the unit. Elk will move quickly into thick aspen, evergreens, and rugged terrain with hunting pressure.
Hunters must be prepared to walk into remote and forested areas. Do not expect to see elk from roads or areas open to OHVs. In early seasons, stick to cool areas on north-facing slopes in the spruce/fir and aspen forests.