For the last several years, a group of friends and I have hunted on our own quite inexpensively in northwestern Colorado's White River and Routt National Forests. Our success rate has varied from year to year and so has the quality of the animals we have taken. Overall, though, we have done quite well and had some wonderful times. Basically, what we do is try to get into areas that are remote or just plain difficult to access, and then use hunting pressure and other factors to tilt things in our direction. We've found it quite effective to hunt the elk in these forests much like we hunt whitetails in my home state of Minnesota. I'll explain by describing our trip last year. Seems six of us drove two 4wd pickups from Sherburn, Minnesota, to Phippsburg, Colorado. Look on a map, and you will see Phippsburg is on Highway 131, south of Steamboat Springs. We usually stop in Steamboat for gas and information on road and weather conditions. If conditions are bad, we take the long way around the forest from Steamboat to Craig and then south to Meeker or Old Creek on Highway 13, where we get supplies and over-the-counter licenses at a gas station before going into the woods. If conditions are good, we take the scenic route down to Phippsburg and into the mountains from there. This past year, conditions weren't too bad, so we took Flat Tops Road from Phippsburg into the forest. You won't find the Flat Tops name on a map, but there is a sign for it on the highway. Flat Tops starts as a black top road and becomes a gravel road that winds through both Routt and White River national forests. It will take you all the way across the forest to Meeker on the west side, but it can get quite soft if there has been a lot of rain or snow.
With chains on all four tires, we drove about two hours into the forest and crawled up a muddy trail off the main road, thinking this would be tough enough to keep other........(continued)