Elevation change to stop other hunters

Joined
Feb 17, 2013
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2,277
I’ve seen guys 20 miles in to the wilderness. I don’t care if you’re in a bar or on the mountain. Don’t ever assume no one is tougher than you. You should always put some kind of geographic barrier between you and the masses. It can be miles, it can be elevation, usually a combination of both. You can also do things like cross a river, or find your way up through a cliff. But don’t think you’re the only one who has ever thought of it. Just work as hard as you can and make smart decisions. if you take shortcuts then you better lower your expectations.
 

SteveinMN

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Aug 11, 2020
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I think the key here is not where 'nobody' will go, but try to get where 'few' will go. For rifle season we try to find the goldilocks spot where we're further than folks will hike from the trailhead, but not as far as the ones with horses will go. Where we are that tends to be in the 2.5-6 mile range. We certainly see other hunters, but not nearly as many. Everyone we've run into is just as respectful as we are if general plans are shared-try to stay out of each other's way. Pro tip here...don't ask where they plan on hunting first, let them know what drainage or direction YOU plan to go and a majority (not ALL by any means, but more than half) will stay out of your way.

Don't expect to be anywhere on public land and not see another hunter when your glassing, rather hope to not have someone sitting right in your lap. Expectations can make or break a trip and expecting to be totally alone on public is just not a very realistic expectation. A fella's gotta make a whole lot more money than me to have the luxury of expecting not to see anybody else.
 

bodhi406

FNG
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Jan 15, 2024
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I think it can help with pressure, but I agree with Steve. There is also plenty of good elk hunting around other people. Sometimes when there are no people they are somewhere else for a reason.
 
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
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VT
In my 10 years of mostly successful DIY elk hunting in the steeps of NW WY, I have found it takes >2000' of vertical, well away from any horse trail to end up without much or any competition. However, if you also pay attention to the other things elk need, it is often fruitful.
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
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I don’t think it’s as simple as tossing a number out there. Also have to consider what kind of trails are nearby. If there are motorized trails, bet your butt people will be zipping up and if there are horse/hiking trails, they’ll be people and stock using it.

1000’ over a couple miles isn’t a big deal. 250’ gain over a couple yards will turn off most people.

Some stuff just looks horrible from the road. That’s the stuff people won’t even try and probably where you should go.
 
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Hoffy

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Mar 24, 2024
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Colorado
Counterpoint, I've seen a small climb deter almost everyone in the right places. We hunt a wilderness area, where no vehicles are allowed, but there are ATV accessible trails nearby. All of the other hunters in the area seem to stick to those trails, because riding is a lot more fun than walking. If you have something like this in your area, where a small inconvenience is made far more daunting by an easy alternative, you might find the people thin out fast.
 

rclouse79

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Dec 10, 2019
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The unit I elk hunt is close to a populated area. During September most of the pullouts have RVs and the dirt roads look like a circus of people flying up and down on motorcycles and ATVs. I rarely run into anybody after I leave the trail and start hiking. When you do run into people in areas that are hard to access, they are generally pleasant and respectful.
 
Joined
Aug 11, 2017
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Florida
It honestly varies state to state, region to region. One area I hunted was a near vertical climb, 1000ft in about 650 yards. The next thousand over less than a mile. I got up there, there was two guys already packing out a bull and another bugling a little ways off. They didn’t come in the same way, but hiked in 6+ miles around for a day hunt. It was also within driving distance of a popular “hunting” town. Another place in the same state, I’ve killed 3 elk within a half mile of a road and only seen two hunters in 6-7 years.

You have to learn the area, but before you do generally the more blow down you put between yourself and a trailhead the better. I’ve found trail heads to be more of an indicator of crowdedness than roads.
 

mtwarden

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I agree with the sentiment of you'll rarely get away from everyone; but with some hard work (and planning) you can get away from a LOT of folks.

I've been stunned several times seeing man tracks in the snow where I thought I'd never see a track; these days I'm no longer stunned; surprised maybe, but not stunned :D

There was a block mgt area I used to hunt quite a bit—all walk in. I'd hike in typically headed to the farther reaches. Not surprisingly I'd see a lot of man tacks a mile or so on the main roads/trails; the traffic cut off significantly two-ish miles in and even more so three-ish miles in. About four miles in (getting relatively close to the property boundary) it was rare to see man tracks, but I'd usually see a few here and there.

As others have mentioned, sometimes it works to your advantage having folks in the area. Lots of elk killed by someone pushing elk into someone else.
 

2-Stix

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Oct 7, 2020
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I had days where I did a 4k up and 8k down peak bagging. Never a day under 2,500, most around 3,500 with 50# packs. And I was nothing special what so ever. We started most trips at 7,500' and pushed pass 14k.
 
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wytx

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Feb 2, 2017
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Wyoming
Lots of overlooked elk near to the trailhead and road you're packing in from.
Never needed to get that far in or steep, but I'm old so I try to hunt smarter not harder.
Tip of the hat to you young guys.
 

Fullfan

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Agree: when u find some place you think no one would go, there will be guys there..
 
Joined
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Tijeras NM
This day and age, aint no mountain stopping hunting pressure. Accept maybe the flatlanders that live at sea level. Go low and don't go deep and you might be surprised on the hunting pressure there
 

JP7

Lil-Rokslider
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Feb 25, 2012
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Wyoming
Just gonna echo what everyone else has said. The only way to know where people, or lots of people won't go during hunting season, is to be there during hunting season. That's pretty hard to E-scout for. Make lots of plans, and accept, the elk are where you find them. Could be many miles and lots of vert from a road, or, on the road. If I had a nickel for every time I've run into elk on the road while driving down it during archery season, I'd have three nickels, which isn't a lot, but 3x more than I ever thought that would happen.
 

shootnrun

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Jan 15, 2013
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United States
I killed a ~350 bull a half mile from a road, 600' up. Watched cars driving by in the dark as I broke him down.. Never have seen another hunter up there and had several other close encounters both before and since. I've done 4 miles and 2500' before daylight only to be covered up with dudes.. Do with that what you may.
 

Boone-In-Wall

Lil-Rokslider
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Sep 10, 2020
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Very tough question. Is it 1000’ with a trail and gradual climb or 1000’ in blowdown up a nasty slope? The thing is that with the way things are now you just aren’t going to get away from everyone. You could climb higher and go farther and there will still be someone there lol.
This! A 1000' of trail hiking over 4 miles is a breeze; however, 1000' over 1/2 mile in a burn is a death hike.
 

Maverick1

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Jun 1, 2013
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If you are willing to go there, other people are as well. Not everyone, of course, but some will.
 

TaperPin

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Jul 12, 2023
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Local knowledge makes a bigger difference in hunting success than the amount of eScouting. I wouldn’t want to blindly make plans to commit to a single area, because if there are ten trucks parked at the trailhead of a small area I’d rather have a pine needle in the eye than hunt there.
 

Gobbler36

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Dec 6, 2015
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Idaho
Steep and deep is all the rage now so a lot more than you think
too many times now days I’ve hiked steep steep stuff sometimes a ways back sometimes areas close to the truck but vertical and rugged thinking no one else is as dumb as me to low and behold have several dudes up there with their kifaru and flat brims on
 

Kyle C

Lil-Rokslider
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May 28, 2017
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Puyallup WA
A lot of variables go into that. 1000' isn't much in some terrain, and in others it can be a big deterrent. Hunters are a lot better now, and in way better shape then they used to be.
 
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