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PUTTING THE ODDS IN YOUR FAVOR FOR COLORADO RIFLE ELK HUNTS S TA F F A R T I C L E GARTH JENSON PROFESSIONAL HUNT ADVISOR A ll of Colorado’s first and fourth rifle and muzzleloader elk hunts are allocated through the draw. Some of these hunts will be sold as leftover permits in August, but for the sake of keeping it simple, the focus of this article will be on the second and third season rifle hunts that have permits that are sold OTC (over-the- counter). These permits are valid in any units that have OTC second and third season rifle elk hunts. These have the potential to be some of the most fun hunts of the year if you go into them with the right expectations. These are not trophy hunts that have a limited amount of tags in them where you can expect very little competition, but they are hunts that you can plan on hunting with a group of friends as you 22 don’t need points and everyone can get a permit. You can pretty much guarantee that if there is an area with a heavy concentration of elk that is easily accessible there will be plenty of orange vests and hats lurking in the shadows. A trophy out of most OTC units is a large five-point or small six-point, and as long as this is in line with your expectations, you will have a quality hunt if you keep some of these tips in mind when selecting and then hunting the unit. One thing I do when starting my research for an OTC rifle elk hunt is review all of the harvest statistics and population estimates in addition to the Big Game Regional Hunt Guides. This helps immensely when comparing one unit to another and in the initial sorting out of units you want to hunt. The things I sort through first are the population estimates of each DAU (Data Analysis Unit) to figure out where the bulk of the elk are and then I flip over to the Regional Hunt Guide to figure out which unit is getting the bulk of the harvest out of that specific DAU. Most of the time, the unit that had the bulk of the harvest is not the one I want to eventually hunt as the reason it had the highest harvest is not because it has the most elk but it almost always had the most hunters. Once you get flipping back and forth, you will start to find units that don’t have the highest hunter concentrations but still have similar harvest success. These are the units I start to focus on. Now that I’ve narrowed down my unit selections, I start to look at access to public land and the overall unit make up. This is where I start to look at a statewide map that has private/public