Colorado Unit 54 Hunting Information

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Overview of CO GMU 54 Hunting Facts

Unit 54 was once famous for trophy class mule deer and for the hunt quality for elk. This unit was affected by the harsh winter of 2007/08 causing the quality of mule deer and elk to drop. The numbers for both species have risen since then, but are still not where they were before the winter storm. Unit 54 includes more than half of the 176,120-acre West Elk Wilderness and even more federal and state land outside the wilderness. For more Colorado Unit 54 hunting information, check out the Info for Cities Near Unit 54 section on the right.

Table of Contents

CO Unit 54 Species Hunting Info

INFO: Mule Deer Hunting in Colorado Unit 54
Be prepared physically and mentally to hunt at 10,000-12,000 feet in unit 54. For your best chance to spot a big buck, bring good-quality optics. The alpine basins of the West Elk Wilderness and Red Mountain have proven to be successful in the past. Heavy snowstorms tend to force bucks off of Red and Flat Top mountains in the east, Carbon Mountain in the north, and Bald Mountain in the south. Deer are often seen moving towards Ohio Creek and the Gunnison River. Focus on lower elevations near doe groups to locate mature bucks.

SUCCESS RATES for Mule Deer Hunting in Colorado Unit 54
5 Year Estimated Average for Deer
Archery 20%
Muzzle Loader 42%
2nd Rifle 54%
3rd Rifle 76%
4th Rifle 82%
Mule Deer TROPHY QUALITY for Unit 54 Colorado
Average Quality 150″ – 170″
Trophy Potential 180″
Buck to Doe Ratio 47:100
Colorado Unit 54 Mule Deer Hunting FORUM Coming Soon!

INFO: Elk Hunting in Colorado Unit 54
Warm, dry weather have caused the hunting success to be low over the past few years, but this has allowed bulls the time they need to mature. After deep snow fall, elk are forced onto sagebrush and oak brush ridges. From mid-to late September bulls can be heard bugling throughout the night in alpine basins and aspen groves. Bulls are often active during the day with the rut going strong. As October comes around, few bulls are heard bugling in early morning or at dusk. Elk are easier to track in November due to the snow on the ground. Elk often move to Ohio Creek or Gunnison River drainages. Remember to hunt away from main roads to improve your chance of seeing a big buck.

SUCCESS RATES for Elk Hunting in Colorado Unit 54
5 Year Estimated Average for Elk
Archery 15%
Muzzleloader 22%
1st Rifle 24%
2nd Rifle 16%
3rd Rifle 15%
4th Rifle 30%
Elk TROPHY QUALITY for Unit 54 Colorado
Average Quality 260″ – 300″
Trophy Potential 310″
Buck to Doe Ratio 18:100
Colorado Unit 54 Elk Hunting FORUM Coming Soon!

Available Hunts

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Info for Cities Near CO GMU 54


Colorado Unit 54 Topo Map

Total Acreage: 374,400 acres over 585 square miles

Total Public Land: 292,032 acres or 78%

Land Ownership Mix: 22% Private; 78% Public

Species: Black Bear: Elk, Mule Deer, Moose, Pronghorn

Elevation Variances: 7,500 ft. to 13,042 ft.

Terrain Difficulty Overall: Mild to Moderate

Land Coverage/Vegetation: 30% evergreen forest, 26% deciduous forest, 19% shrub/scrub and 12% pasture/hay


Lay of the Land in CO Unit 54


Terrain in GMU 54 CO

Unit 54 contains more than half of the 176,412-acre West Elk Wilderness as well as about 100,000 acres of the Gunnison National Forest. This unit also includes thousands of acres of BLM and state land. There are many steep peaks with alpine basins. Numerous drainages flow into the Gunnison River, which flows through cattle ranches and rimrock canyons and drains into Blue Mesa Reservoir.

Vegetation in GMU Unit 54 CO

The plants that range from 7,500-9,000 feet are mostly grasses, sagebrush, pinyons and junipers as well as cottonwoods and willows along streams. Aspens, spruces, ponderosa pines and lodgepole pines grow at higher elevations. When you get above 9,000 feet, open parks with lush meadows are scattered across unit 54.

Access Points in CO GMU 54

Trailheads at Rainbow Lake as well as at Ohio, Mill and Red Creeks lead into a 200-mile trail system in the West Elk Wilderness. National Forest and BLM land can be reached from Highway 50 and Ohio Creek Road. State wildlife areas total about 13,000 acres.