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.
Bounded on N by Colorado River and Eagle River; on E by East Lake Creek; on S by Fryingpan River-Eagle River divide; on W by US Forest Service Road 514 (Red Table Mountain Road), County Road 10A (Cottonwood Pass Road) and Cottonwood Creek.
GMUs 35 and 44 have some public access, however the northern part of GMU 44 between Edwards and Eagle is primarily private property with no hunting allowed.
21% Private, 79% Public, 55% USFS, 23% BLM, 1% State
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.
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
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 (Figure 5). The mountain peaks above approximately 11,600 feet contain mostly bare rock or alpine
communities. Spruce-fir grows mostly between the elevations of 8,000 and 11,600 ft.
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. piñon-juniper covers the lower foothills, and sagebrush
parks appear on the more level sites as elevation drops. Riparian vegetation runs along the
creeks and rivers.
Elk prefer a diversity of vegetation types in close proximity to cover and
The vegetation in this DAU can be categorized into five main groups: cropland, riparian,
rangeland, forest land, and alpine.
Cropland is found in the valleys at the low elevations and is mostly hay grounds of
timothy, orchard grass, wheat-grasses, and alfalfa. Much of this habitat type has been lost due to land development in the Roaring Fork and Eagle River Valleys.
Some of the better cropland
areas occur in the Spring Valley, Gypsum Creek and Brush Creek areas. Riparian vegetation is found along the major creeks and rivers. This community supports
the greatest number and diversity of plant and animal species. Cover types range from sprucefir,
blue spruce, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, aspen, narrowleaf cottonwood, and various species
Some of the largest riparian areas occur along the Roaring Fork and Eagle Rivers. Rangelands consist of sagebrush, mountain shrubs, Gambel's oak, and grassland
communities. Sagebrush is the most common land cover at the lower elevations. Rabbit brush,
western and slender wheatgrass, and native clovers commonly grow with the sagebrush.
Mountain shrubs include serviceberry, snowberry, mountain mahogany, and Gambelfts oak. The
shrublandsft grasses, forbs and browse provide an important forage source for elk in the winter,
spring and fall transition months. Grasslands occur on the more level sites in forested areas
(large bunchgrasses such as Thurber's fescue, wildrye, needlegrass, and broome) and in the
alpine areas (Idaho and Thurber's fescue, Sandberg bluegrass, blue bunch wheatgrass mixed with
Forest communities fall into 5 major groups: piñon-juniper, aspen and aspen-conifer
mix, Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, and spruce-fir.
piñon-juniper covers the foothills. They provide good thermal and escape cover but poor forage. This type is well represented on the
lower elevations just south of the Eagle River. Aspen and aspen-conifer mixes occupy the
The understory consists of emerging conifers (where aspen is not the climax
species), lush grasses and forbs, and some shrubs. This community provides important cover
and summer forage areas for elk. Some of the larger aspen stands are located in the Beaver Creek
and Cottonwood Pass area. Douglas fir shares the middle elevation zone mostly on the moister
sites on north facing aspects, but is much less represented than the aspen ecosystems.
It is a
long-lived species valued for wildlife habitat diversity, scenic value, and big game cover. Lodgepole pine grows in even aged stands generally above the aspen and below the spruce-fir. In mature stands, the dense overstory limits the growth of understory forage, but provides good
cover. This type is well represented in the middle elevations along the Frying Pan River and in
the Vail area.
Throughout portions of the DAU, the lodgepole stands have been infected by pine
bark beetle. There will be a significant ecosystem-wide change that occurs when the infected
trees die and are harvested or simply fall to the ground. The overstory will be reduced and there
will be a conversion to grass and forb type vegetation. Spruce-fir (Engelmann Spruce, Subalpine
Fir) dominates the higher elevations up to tree line.
This habitat provides excellent summer
cover and forage site for elk. This is the most common forest type in the Holy Cross and HunterFrying
Pan Wilderness areas. Alpine sites occur in the high mountain peaks and basins. Grasses, sedges, and numerous
forbs are present.
Short willows grow in moister areas. These sites provide excellent summer
forage areas and a place for elk to avoid the pesky insects of summer.
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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Early seasons find elk anywhere from 7500ft to above timberline. With increased hunting pressure and snow, herds tend to move to remote areas or private landsÐaway from roads and hunters.
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.