Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Colorado Elk Hunt Begins!

I wake up about 3 am with loud wind and rain beating on the old cabin tin. Agh great, just two hours from my first hunting trip up in the mountains and it sounds like a hurricane outside! Everyone else is sound asleep and I just sit on the couch for the next couple hours. Dean strolls in about 5 am to stoke the fires and I already had em rollin! I bet you they went through twice as much wood as usual the week I was there!

Day in and day out, I think I am probably the only person in the history of elk camp to consistently wake up at least an hour before Dean came in to put some logs on the firs. Yes, I am a freak who for some reason cannot sleep in the mornings. I sleep great at night, but for some reason am always up before the sun every stinkin morning. Brook is extra grateful for our kids to have the same curse as me.....not!

So anyhow by the time we all ate our bacon and eggs, the sun had come up and the rain finally started to turn into snow! We got a late start out of the gate, but by 7:30 am we were headed out into the mountains looking for some elk.

Dave dropped me off onto a 2 mile long ditch and told me to take about 2 hours to walk the ditch and look both up and down for elk and he would meet me at the end of it. It was very thick with scrub oaks and there werent nearly as many clearings in it than I had envisioned. Anyhow after about 30 minutes of walking and I come to nice clearing and just sit and wait. Picture perfect setting and wouldn't you know about 5 minutes later and to my complete disbelief here comes a big bull elk just meandering along!

I watched that elk for about 10 minutes and then he scooted off into the thicket. It is snowing pretty good out by now and I just sit there in awe of seeing such a majestic animal out in the wild up in the mountains! No other elk came out and I moved on to see what was around the next corner. The reason the bull came out, was because I had a cow tag! Supposedly 3rd season in these parts is mainly cows everywhere, but there I was looking at a big bull!! Oh well, next year I go for a bull tag and mule deer tag and cows will be all over the place......

As I get close to the end of the ditch I could see lots of Mule deer tracks in the fresh snow which was super awesome, but then all of a sudden I realized I was up in the midst of a herd of about 15 mule deer scattered all around me. The 4 bucks in the group scampered up the mountain and out of sight, but the ladies and youngins just played the staring game with me for about 15 minutes. Finally they decided to bounce up the hill in unison. For some reason they just seem alot dumber than whitetails...

So while I am having this incredible mountain experience, Jared is having quite an experience of his own! Dave and I dropped him off at supposedly a really good elk crossing for him to just sit and wait and try to catch some elk headed back up into the mountains. They go down at night to feed and up during the day to bed down. Anyhow after a few minutes of looking out for elk, Jared gets an up close and personal encounter with a herd of cows...not cow elk, but actual cows.

When Dave and I went back to pick up Jared, we found a huge herd of cows hanging out right were we left him! Jared had the gps unit and was able to pinpoint the ranch and ended up walking back the 4 miles! That was after he got side tracked from trying to sneak up on a herd of 4 elk the next ridge over.

So anyhow, where we were at there are lots of irrigated cow pastures in the mountains. The elk sneak down into the cow pastures to feed at night and we try to set up in there paths headed back up the mountains in the morning hours. Then during the day we head up the mountains looking for bedded down elk. Thats where Rands elk hunting story begins....

Rand and Edwin were out with Josh glassing at the top of a hill. They spotted 4 elk headed up a path and they took off to sneak into position for a kill. They played the wind perfectly and got within 200 yards. Rand layed down to shoot, but when he was laying down he looked over and saw two different elk just 140 yards away to the left. He quickly changed gears and picked out the cow who was with a spike buck.

His first shot hit a little far back and while the cow was trotting away he put another shot in her hind quarters. His third shot missed and his 4th shot probably over 300 yards away put her down! Rand is 14 years old and this is his second elk hunt!!

Rand was about 8-10 miles away from us, so we were pumped up when we found out he connected on the first morning! He spent the rest of the week looking for black bears and filming our elk hunts!!

We all met up for lunch at noon and gobbled down some of the best chili on the planet.

The snow just kept getting harder as the day progressed and by the time we went back out at about 3 pm it was really coming down!

I went out by myself again that afternoon and walked 1.5 miles up the most scenic old trail you can imagine! About every 150 yards I would come across a clearing littered with beaver dams and small ponds. By then the wind had come to a screaching halt and the quiet heavy snow was just breathtaking unbelievable.

At 5 pm I spotted four cows still bedded down about 500 yards away, but didnt have enough light left to make it worth stalking into position. You have to remember that this was still the first day of the hunt and my legs had already put on some serious miles! So instead of enduring more pain for an iffy chance at a shot, I was blessed with two monster mule deers just staring at each other about 60 yards from me.

Its mule deer season, I just didnt get mule deer tags. Both of them were shooters, but the one on the left was an absolute monster!! They knew I was there watching them, and they didn't care one single bit. Again, they just seem dumb to me, but who knows maybe they are smarter than I think. Anyhow I was blessed beyond what words can describe to experience this day alone up in the scenic mountains.

With the calm and quietness of the heavy snow, there isn't a better way to blot out the world and work back home to just meditate, pray and think. Even though I walked mucho miles, I was completely rejuvenated and will never forget this particular day.

Dave picked me up at our meeting spot at dark and we headed into the lodge for some ribs and taters and finished er off with some chocolate cake!

The cake was the only thing Rand didnt put hot sauce on today:

We all told our stories from the day and I took most of Rands money playing a dice game supposedly called Polish Craps. I bet it wasnt but 8 pm before most all of us were crashed out for the night....

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