View Full Version : Elk Hunting at 10 to 12,000 feet. Need Advice.
I'm goin Elk Hunting this year in Southern Colorado, North of Mancus. Tent Camp will be at about 10K feet and from what I'm told Elk may be higher - upwards to 12K feet. I'm from PA and live at a paltry 1200 feet. Short of getting in good cardiovascular shape is there anything I can do to prepare myself?
What can I expect? I'd sure hate to get up there and not be able to hunt cause I'm sick from elevation. ###:FP
Help me out if you can, Thanks!
08-14-2001, 07:36 AM
Yes. ###Go to your doctor and discuss with him the drug "Diamox". ###It is used to prevent altitude sickness. ###Unless you frequent the high country you may not be aclimated to the altitude.
It can't hurt to have some on you, or take some just in case.
08-14-2001, 07:44 AM
I second Eric's recommendation. Go see your doc. I have had altitude sickness and it isn't fun. It will ruin you hunt.
Thanks for the advice guys. Have you used this med before? One of my freinds went once and he got real sick up there for 3 days and it ruined his hunt. He was in pretty good physical shape but said that really didn't seem to matter. He just got downright sick. I'll definately look into it.
08-14-2001, 02:03 PM
gizz first i am jealous your hunt sounds like fun...
altitude affects different people different ways.. it has not affected me much in the past but i have seen it ruin some peoples trip.. one thing that i know helps is that you do it gradually.. maybe you can spend the night before at 8,000 feet or get up there gradually.. discuss with your guide if you will have one.. also dont try to overdo it the first day..know your limitations and stay within them..
if you have some extra time get up there before season opens and spend a day or so at a higher elevation.. it is a matter of you getting aclimated to the elevation.
08-14-2001, 02:54 PM
Sight in your rifle when you get to camp. ###The difference in elevation and temp. can cause your bullet path to change a lot.
08-14-2001, 09:07 PM
Gizz, I've never had to use Diamox, but I am often in the high country so my body is used to it.
Talk to your doctor, he/she will fill you in completely on everything.
Thanks for the advice. I did some more checking and there are 2 possible meds that can be used. The "Diamox" as you all suggested and "Dexamethasone" (some type of steroid). I will be taking one of these along "just in case". The second can be taken to alleviate symptons if you happen to get sick. It's actually called "Accute Mountain Sickness" or AMS and 75% of people that go above 10,000 feet will get some of the symptons.
I'd rather not use any meds but "just in case" seems fair since I'm only going for a week and can't afford to be laid up for 2 or 3 days of that time. Chances are, with this stuff in my back pocket, that I won't worry about it and probably won't get sick.
(Edited by gizz at 8:25 am on Aug. 15, 2001)
08-15-2001, 10:38 AM
Here comes my advice,
Try to spend atleast on night at high elevation before strenuous exertion. Seems that aclimating will greatly decrease chances of AMS. Also, Keep yourself hydrated as this also reduces chances of AMS. I had it ruin a hunt of mine a few years back and will carry the drugs as a backup myself. Best of luck.
08-15-2001, 06:08 PM
I've had altitude sickness twice, once in the Sierras and once here in the local mountains. Mostly my fault for trying to hike a mountain too fast with heavy packs on. Now if we go up, we leave a day earlier and try to spend a day at 6,000 or 7,000 level first. Then the next day make the push up to hunt on top at 10.000.
Take the meds and don't push yourself for the first couple days and you should be okay. Also watch your partners for signs of AMS and have a plan already thought out if you have to bring someone down.
The air sure is thin up there along the timberline.
08-15-2001, 07:23 PM
Go a couple of days early and take a fishing rod or book or something and plan on just taking it easy. ###You really shouldn't have any problems. ###Now I have the same problem when I go to LA.....so I don't......hronk
08-15-2001, 07:47 PM
Hronk ###Dont fib. You know you like it at SEA level. ### Fubar
08-16-2001, 05:23 AM
Fubar, I don't think hronk is having a problem with sea level, I think it is LA that he has an alergy too. I have that problem also....lol
08-16-2001, 09:06 AM
BigDog ###Its not an alergy you and Hronk have its a Phobia. That is treatable. If you have to come to LA just spend the night about half way here so you can get acclimated to it. They have some drugs that might be helpful also. Ask your doctor for some Valium or Prozac. These can be helpful in case of a panic attack. And remember, I will be here for you. Hehehe ### ### ### ### ### ### ### ###Fubar
09-03-2001, 11:08 PM
I think the best approach is to arrive a few days before the season starts and and break your system in to the altitude gradually. ###By that I take short not too taxing hikes work up over the coarse of a couple of days to more strenuous activity.
09-04-2001, 01:16 PM
The other suggestions are great but one point was missed. ###Alcohol and caffine are bot diuretic. (They make you P more). ###Avoid them and drink plenty of fluids (water). ###If it's clear when you go, and you're going every hour or so, you're drinking enough. ###I agree with the others on getting there a day or two early, stay at 6000-7000 feet. ###Then move up to 10,000 and take it a bit easy. ###Take Alieve for the altitude related headaches. ###I avoid asprin and Tylenol at elevation. ###Have fun.
06-22-2002, 02:03 PM
I get altitude sickness almost every time I hunt elk, so after 30 plus elk hunts you can say Im a gluton for punishment, first thing you need to know is the guys are correct , youll need to drink lots of liquids and I normally take alleve and excedrin for the headaches,nausa ###is also common , now keep in mind hot showers and staying warm help your circulation ###and not exerciseing to excess help increase your chances of not becomeing sick, and without raiseing your hope to much but all symptoms normally pass within 48 hrs and spending the first night at 5000-7000 feet before continueing on to 10000 feet the first night helps. now you might think your going to die from the effects but normally youll get through it fine if you spend the first day drinking lots of hot drinks (coffee,(not advised it restricks circulation slightly) tea,hot coco, (better choices)ETC.) and takeing hot showers in a motel before getting to the full 10,000 feet and dont think you caught the worlds worse case of the flu the symptoms are somewhat similar but the hunting is worth it! and BTW the symtoms don,t normally come back ###once they leave and they don,t always hit on the first day!
(remember the hunting is worth it!)
BTW while were on the subject of feeling like crap while elk hunting,DONT DRINK FROM MOUNTAIN SPRINGS WITHOUT IODINE/BOILING THE WATER ,THERE ARE MICRO CRITTERS ( IN MANY STREAMS THAT WILL KICK YOUR BUTT FOR WEEKS IF YOU GET THAT DUMB)
(Edited by 340mag at 5:22 pm on June 22, 2002)
06-22-2002, 07:36 PM
Also watch out for the ticks, we have a bizillon out here this year.
Good advice continues to roll in. This thread is getting close to a year old now but i remember posting it last year. Maybe somebody else will benefit from it.
I'm glad to say the hunt went well and i did not get sick. I even got fortunate to bag a decent 6X5 the last full day. I had my GPS the whole time and it was cool to watch the elevation change. Turns out we stayed in Mancos(7000 feet) the night before then drove up to around 11,000 feet where we parked our vehicle. From here we packed our gear onto the horses and began the treck into camp - about 3 miles. I was amazed at how quickly i'd lose my breath from just walking in. Our wall tents were already setup when we finally got to camp and this turned out to be very close to 11,800 feet. We took it easy the rest of that day as it turned out we were all fine all week.
The highest i got up to was around 12,800 feet and i shot my elk from 12,300. The country was beautiful and god willing i'd sure like to go back someday.
My advice for someone on their first visit to those heights would be to:
1. Get into some kind of shape before going. I walked a fast 2 miles everyday for 4 weeks before leaving. I was already in ok shape but this just made it that much better i think.
2. Do like everyone here says -- Drink lots of water. I followed the advice from this thread and drank enough each day so my Pee was clear.
3. Get the med "Diamox" just in case. It's only a couple $'s for a few pills and it could be the difference between a good trip and a ruined one.
4. Try to spend the night in a town nearby that has some elevation to it. I was pleasantly surprised by Manco being at 7000 feet.
5. Ascend as slowly as possible and don't overdue it the first couple days. I hunted fairly close to camp the first day and saw some cow's. I gradually ventured out further until i was confident that i would be fine.
6. Don't worry about it as much as i did!!! HAVE FUN. ###
(Edited by gizz at 4:12 pm on June 23, 2002)
Bill in SD
06-25-2002, 10:31 AM
Gizz, Congratulations on the elk and the hunt!!! ###I hunted the same general area as you several years ago. ###Actually, I bowhunted for muledeer on private property south of Mancos and then went on a weekend bowhunt for elk with the guy that was semiguiding me on the private property.
We drove North of Mancos up to about 11 or 12,000 feet and after we got out of the truck, I remember the tubes of face paint squirting out when we took the caps off. ###Man that was some high elevation!!! I remember having a difficult time walking and breathing at that elevation. ###And it was very, very steep.
We hiked over to the "Colorado Trail" and hunted in that general area for two days, then hiked 22 miles towards Durango and hitched a ride back into town.
We got into elk but were unsuccessful. ###One time there were elk on both sides of us. ###It was funny that on the one side there was a steep canyon that separated us from the elk. ###And it was so steep that it was really hard walking around with a backpack on. ###It was kinda like being on the moon. ### The guy I hunted with fell on a steep talus slope and busted the stabilizer on his bow. ###I fell a bunch of times on the wet grass on the steep slopes. ###The next day we followed a bugle and came to a steep drop off and of course the elk was on the other side.
Really great place to hunt elk, but very, very rugged, steep, and high elevation.
I have thought about going back, but common sense took over.
Maybe we could share notes. ###It sure was a gorgeous place. ###Did I say it was steep and the elevation was high. ###However, how many public land hunts are there were you can get away from other hunters and not have to go to high elevations, and traverse steep, rugged terrain.
What was really tough, was that I was not in good shape and I had been hunting out of tree stands for a week. ###So, I had gotten aclimated to 7,000 feet, however that jump up to 12,000 was brutal.
You know something a guide told me helps is to take antacids. ###This will help if you have gas or a sour stomach from the elevation. ###
06-25-2002, 11:51 AM
One piece of advice I have not seen posted is to limit foods that have a high fat content. Fatty foods are difficult to digest and can add to the naseau related to altitude sickness. Antacid is also a good item to have to help with naseau.
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