Sunday, November 13, 2011

Colorado Elk Hunting at Bar ZX Ranch

So the second day of our adventure had us leaving our motel just after sunrise. It was dark when coming into the mountains the night before so we didn't see much. This time it was light and we were glued to the wildlife and scenery as we traveled through the mountains. We saw lots of big horn sheep, some sort of scrub goats, mule deer, and even some elk! Here are some sheep:

We stopped into a outdoor themed gas station and had some famous Colorado Santiago burritos for breakfast. Lots of other hunters were pouring into Colorado traveling this route as well. The gas station clerk said he would sell more than 200 of those burritos that morning! Anyhow, this truck in particular caught my attention while driving and provided a little chuckle:

Also we hit a traffic jam cause this UPS truck decided to catch on fire:

Finally about 2 pm we met up with Edwin and the gang at a shooting range just outside of Hotchkiss, Colorado. They flew into the airport at Montross about noon. The place we shot at was called Stengels Gun Shop and there we sighted in our guns and took turns trying to ring the gong at 1000 yards.

About an hour of shooting and we headed up to the Bar ZX ranch near Paonia. This place is pretty much one of the coolest places in world, but not because of technology or fancy structures. Pure natural scenic beauty, combined with tons of good ole fashion hard work, ingenuity, and of course home cookin all by the same family for over 100 years is what makes this place uniquely amazing!

The history and the people of the Bar ZX ranch are unlike anything you could dream up or expect from a hunting or fishing outfitter type of service. Dean and his wife Kathy own and operate the ranch and are the most hospital, funny old people you could ever meet. They are down to earth real hardworking people who enjoy sharing their slice of heaven with their clients. While your there, your not a client, your family!

The Bar ZX ranch consists of 640 acres of main land that is owned by the ranch, but then it also has the leasing rights to over 20,000 acres of adjoining land! While the 20,000 acres sounds very impressive, the 640 acres of owned land is actually the gem of Colorado! Dean grew up right there on that mountain and got his education from a little one room school house that still is standing about 2 miles down the road from the ranch entrance. Believe it or not, it actually is uphill both ways to and from that school!! And usually snowy too....

Anyhow Dean started building trout ponds on his ranch back in 1985 and now has 29 of them spread across the ranch and they are all piped together with fresh supplies of glacier spring water flowing in and out of each year round! Simply the most amazing set up on the planet and he built it all with his own two hands and some old used equipment! He has 17 species of trout on the ranch and every year several trout of several species over 20 lbs are landed from his flyfishing only ponds! 10 lbers are very common as you will see in some pictures coming up in some later posts, and 5 lbers are the norm! Unbelievable how he created and learned all that thru trial and error and driving passion for raising trout! Here is a sneak peak pic of fishing with Dean:

So throughout the week of my visit, I was so in awe of everything I was seeing that I pretty much never stopped asking questions about everything. (Chef Todd definitely influencing my normal shy behavior) but anyhow Dean and his crew not only answered my questions, they actually participated 100% with our humor and told lots and lots of stories. Here is a fun photo of Dean and Kathy we spruced up with a pitch fork. I tried to get a serious shot just like that old fashioned painting, but everyone was smiling too much...

Here is a bunch of fun photos of Dean mostly telling his stories....

The Bar ZX ranch is world reknown, world famous, world class, hunting and fishing! But with that being said again its unlike what you would normally think. The main bunk cabin that we all stayed in was built with mostly wood from the property, heated with wood burning stoves, and supplied with water from the local stream. No cell service anywhere close, no long distance phone, no computers, and pretty much no technology from the last 10 years whatsoever. This is the total authentic out West mountain experience! Here are some pics of the living room, also you can note all of Edwins stuff laying around everywhere!

So for those of you wondering how to book a hunt at Bar ZX, it actually usually is filled up every year. The same groups pretty much book the same hunts year in and year out for the last 20 years. Jared and I were fortunate to be invited along for the hunt this year. Occasionally there are some openings, but you would need a good reference or two and would go on a waiting list in order to come and hunt here. Just call me up or email me if you would like Dean's contact information, good luck finding it online!

I took tons of pictures of the ponds, fish, elk, etc, I just will put them in the corresponding days ahead as they were taken. Can't jump the gun too much, got to stay organized so my kids can read this stuff someday! Drake, if you happen to be reading this at some point in the future, about 40 minutes ago you threw up all over my bedroom floor and just 10 minutes ago you puked all over yourself in your crib. Looks to be a fun night at the Herman's tonight...

So anyhow, Kathy cooked us up a Lasagna feast once we got to the ranch. That meal was the perfect opportunity for Rand to start downing his bottles of hot sauce! There we met the hunting guides Josh, Adam, Dustin and Dave and went over game plan for the next morning which was opening day of Colorado's third rifle season!!! My exhaustion eventually overcame my excitement and I was actually able to fall asleep pretty quickly that night!

Snow was in the forecast for the morning (and pretty much every other day)!!

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