You would have to know many factors to know if 18-23 was a good target. it is a respectable target for sure but what other factors are playing a significant role in the management of that elk population? Sure you could shoot for the moon but then hunting becomes restricted and elk tend to eat themselves out of home when numbers escalate just like most any wild animal. Were they talking 18-23 mature bulls per 100 cows or was it just a male:female ratio? Lots to ponder about when it come to ratios and where a state needs to manage certain populations.
I am no Biologist, but, I think it depends on one big factor first. Are you trying to produce a trophy unit, or a "Largest Herd in the State" unit. I have noticed that some of the true trophy units in NV, UT, NM target " on an average 15-25 bulls per 100 cows, but these bulls are 4.5 (avg) years and old, maybe even 5.5-6.5 years old. I think CO goes for the larger herd numbers, duh. So there will be 25-35 bulls per 100 cows, but younger/lesser bulls. As long as there there habitat can support the numbers. JMO, don't shoot me if you don't agree!!! Hope I draw a Mountain Goat tag this year.
Great information and a great subject. As a bow hunter, I prefer the 20-25+ bull:cow ratio for one reason...more competition for the cows. The greater the competition, the better likelihood of vocal elk as they compete for breeding rights. The more they compete with eachother, the better my chances of putting one in the freezer.
there's definitely some truth to this statement imho. in my short elk hunting career so far i have hunted units with high numbers of bulls and low numbers of bulls. the units with low numbers of bulls are the ultimate challenge because the bulls are silent. at least this has been my experience thus far.
Originally Posted by CheyenneElk
Ok, I'm going to be the guy that picks on your math here.
If you have a 20:100 bull to cow ratio, that is actually 1 in 6 chance of it being a bull. When computing the chance, you have to take the number of bulls divided by the number of total elk, not cows.
I only bring this up because the numbers might get twisted around if we keep referring to different parameters. I suggest everyone just stick with bull to cow ratio. :)
One thing I find curious, why are whitetail deer managed for 1:1 while elk are managed 1:5? Is that only where deer populations are at maximum and they are being managed for trophy quality?
This caught my eye because we're looking at new units in Colorado right now for 2012.
Trophyhill - what reason did the official you talked to have for the target ratio? Based on the numbers you posted from the different people, it sounds like 18-23 would be enough to keep the population going, so I would have to guess the number had more to do with the number of hunters Colorado wants in those units rather than the number of elk. I'd like to know what a biologist thinks or knows on the topic. Have you asked Chris Roe? He'd probably know.
Actually, it could be argued that numbers as low as 5 or fewer bulls per 100 cows are enough to "keep the population gowing" or even growing. Bull/cow ratios tend to say more about the ease of finding bulls (or lack thereof) and the overall "quality" or age class of the bulls that you can expect to see.
Cow/calf ratios tell more about the overall health of a herd, whether it's trend is stable, growing, or declining.