GMU 20 is considered a “quality elk unit” in Colorado’s limited draw system. This elk herd is managed for a bull/cow ratio of 45/100. All hunts require a drawing or the purchase of a landowner tag. Unit 20 borders the unhunted, elk rich, 265,000 acre Rocky Mountain National Park on the park’s east side. Due to the elk population in and around RMNP, the CPW also offers a late November/December bull elk season and a January bull elk season in unit 20. These hunts are in addition to the normal season structure of archery, muzzleloader, and regular rifle seasons.
Unit 20 is the ONLY unit in Colorado offering these late BULL elk hunts. These seasons are designed to coincide with the elk migration from RMNP. While these late hunts are usually really good hunts, the early seasons should not be over-looked either. The well-managed, non-migratory unit 20 resident elk (elk not from RMNP) tend to stay close to the eastern and central part of the unit on largely private lands behind locked gates. From these resident herd areas, my archery, muzzle, and early rifle hunters take some of our largest bulls with a couple going 350+ B&C most years. The largest bull we have ever taken was in 2005 and went 400 B&C gross, 386 net official. The migrant elk from RMNP begin arriving after the rut, also on largely private lands. I offer hunts during all the seasons on a mix of private ranches throughout the unit. My guides use trucks, ATVs, and occasionally horses to access the hunting areas. During the fall of 98, the archery and rifle hunters harvested 27 bulls for 32 hunters during the driest fall in 101 years. Of the successful hunters, 70% took 6 point bulls and turned down lots of bulls in search of larger bulls. The majority of these 6 point bulls scored over the magical 300 B&C mark including several 300 to 320 B&C bulls, two 340+ bulls, and two 350+ bulls. The fall of 1999 hunters did well with several nice bulls taken including a 384 monster. In 2001, the hunters went 31 bulls for 37 hunters with 21 bulls that were 6-point or better including a 370. In 2002, they again averaged a 6 point bull with two that went over 360 B&C. In 2003, a hunter took the third largest typical bull elk we have ever taken scoring 377 B&C. Also taken were a 362 B&C bull and several others over 300 B&C. This success has continued. For example, in 2011, the hunters took 23 bulls for 31 hunters with 82% being 6 point bulls with most bulls scoring over 300 B&C including several 320+ B&C bulls, a 351 B&C bull, a 349 bull, and a 350 archery P&Y bull. The best bull in 2014 gross scored 365 B&C. I believe my hunters take more 300 B&C class bulls than any other outfitted hunters in Colorado. While some have the occasional tough hunt, good bulls are usually available for hunters who are in good shape and who can “hold out” for the right animal. Although elevations are moderate, this is a fairly physical hunt so be prepared to hike and hunt hard for your chance at a 6 point bull. With only about 20 bull tags in each regular rifle season, 35 muzzleloader bull tags, and 110 tags in the archery season, hunting pressure on the bulls is light.
The hunt includes a 2:1 hunter to guide ratio, ranch house/cabin lodging, meals, caping, game packing, and recommendations on meat processors and taxidermists. Hunters are limited to four per hunt in all seasons. Hunters are responsible for license fees, game processing, taxidermy, gratuities, and travel to the lodging locations. If you see a big bull on adjacent public land, you can hunt/take it but we cannot accompany you or help retrieve it. Because of this, we have some hunters that bring their own ATV if they are driving to Colorado. It is up to you if you want that option.
Trophy draw unit 20 is over 50% PRIVATE land so it doesn`t take as many preference points as the trophy public land draw units but the hunting is comparable. Preference points are needed to guarantee an elk license or you must purchase a landowner voucher for a unit-wide tag. Preference points needed: Archery – 3; muzzleloader – 11; regular rifle seasons – 4 to 14; December – 5; and January – 8. Buck deer- 0.
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