Archive for the ‘Colorado’ Category

Rocky Mountain National Park makes an expensive decision

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Well it looks like the National Park Service has determined to cull the elk herd in Rocky Mountain National Park. The only problem is that is going to cost almost six million dollars to do it! Instead of allowing hunters to purchase licenses and make money for the National Park system, they are going to use their seemingly inexhaustible amount of revenue to pay for it.  So the next time you hear about the National Parks having trouble coming up with funds to maintain their operations, just remember that when they had the option to make money or spend money, they decided to spend it! It is just another example of how being “Politically Correct” has cost them more money.

Building a Koi Pond

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

Believe it or not, I really do have a real job that doesn’t have anything to do with hunting. So in between hunting trips, I really do have to work. This past weekend a co-worker of mine was asking for volunteers to help him put in his new Koi pond at the new house that he just had built. Unfortunately I didn’t have a trip planned so being the good co-worker that I am, I volunteered. Now living here in Colorado, when I think of a pond in the back yard, I am thinking maybe an 8’x8’ or maybe even a 12’x12. So when I noticed all the people that were invited to attend on the email, I figured that we would have this thing knocked out and sipping some suds in about half an hour. Boy O’ Boy was I wrong!

When we showed up and walked into the backyard I almost fell over. The hole was dug, which was a good thing, because the pond was about 40’x50’ and 5’ deep in size!

Holy cow! It wasn’t a pond but a reservoir! I had never imagined that it would be that big.

The email had said that he needed help moving a 600 pound Koi pond. What I didn’t realize was that was just the weight of the Koi ponds rubber liner.

However, John had a good plan and quickly put everyone to work before they could turn around a run off!

In no time at all with proper supervision from the program manager (John’s wife Tammy), we had the landscape fabric down and were ready for the liner.

Fortunately for us the liner came rolled up on a roll that was about 6’ long. After a little debate we shoved a piece of  PVC through the center, picked it up and people started to pull it towards the hole.

Once unrolled it was determined that we had the short side going the wrong direction. So, with a little muscle we were able to get it orientated in the right direction and started unfolding it. At last it was in position and with a little push and pull here and there we had the liner in place.

The last that I heard was that it was about 6 inches from being full, can’t wait until next summer. It is always nice to have a new place to fish!

24 Years of Elk Hunting in Colorado

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Elk hunting this year turned out to be another great trip to add to my log. We headed up on Thursday like we have done for the previous 24 years. We like to get up there and get camp set up that afternoon. Then on Friday we just take it easy and try to get acclimated. Even though we live at 5600’ going up over 11000’ and doing physical activity can really take it out of a person. For me this was the first year that I hadn’t had my dad to hunt with.
This is a picture of my dad a couple of years ago up at elk camp.  I know it was tough for him to miss it this year, but I am sure that it probably kept him in my mom’s good graces! Anyway, when we got up there the weather was just absolutely gorgeous.
Friday was much the same and I just basically lazed around for most of the day getting things ready for the upcoming hunt the next morning.

Opening morning came fast, especially when you are getting up at 4 in the morning! It didn’t really matter that much because I don’t think any of us had really slept that much. I don’t think that it was from the anticipation of the hunt as much as it was my snoring. I can snore with the best of them and by the amount of red eyes that I had staring at me that morning I must have been in fine form that night. After getting dressed and eating a bowl of oatmeal and a roll, we all headed out to our jump off point. Now there are good and bad points about were we start out at. The bad point is that for the first ½ mile it is almost all uphill.  The good part is that we hunt on top, so that anything we shoot. We just have to drag it down hill. If you have ever hunted elk, this is a really, really good thing!  After climbing for the past 35 minutes I found myself headed over to Mel’s spot. I don’t know about most other hunting camps, but for us we have come up with names to describe the different areas that we hunt. Mel’s spot was named after a hunting companion of ours named Mel. We also have the Run, Frank’s bowl, Corey’s spot, Gary’s spot and so on. It just makes it easier to identify the area that way. At first light I was sitting in Mel’s spot. I literally had elk bugling all around me, but none of them wanted to show themselves. I waited for about an hour and a half and then decided to go track down the nearest bull and see if I could get a shot. I stood up and put on my pack and just as a reached down to get my rifle, in the area behind me that was covered by trees I noticed a bunch of legs standing there. To myself I said shucks (actually it was a little more explicative) and immediately began pulling my pack back off trying to set it up for a good rest. Just about the time I got set up, the first cow came out from behind the trees. Having an either sex tag I could take her, but for the animals  to escape they had to cross a big open bowl, so I decided to wait and see if a bull would come out. Cow after cow kept on coming. Just about the time I was going to pull down on the last cow, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye going up the opposite hill side. Now I don’t normally do this but I pulled off of the cows and put the scope on the animal running straight away from me. He was a legal bull, but he wasn’t giving me a good shot. So I just waited. When he got almost to the top of the hill, he turned and stopped to bugle. I put the crosshairs on the upper back half of the shoulder and squeezed
the shot off. He never knew what hit him. He went down like a sack of bricks.
My hunt was over. At least the fun part. After gutting quartering and hauling him back to camp, I skinned him out and put him on the make shift cooling racks that we have and enjoyed the rest of the gorgeous day. The next day we woke up to sideways blowing snow, so we decided to get out while the getting was good. In all we had taken two elk, a cow and a bull. Only 50% but at least we would all have a freezers full supply of meat for the year and we had a great time.

When deer attack! Sort of.

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Safety always comes first when you are hunting.  We are
taught that from the first time that we ever pick up a weapon. However, there
are other dangers out there that a hunter may encounter that have nothing to do
with a weapon! When hunting you should always consider the what if’s:

  • What if
    you get caught in a blizzard?
  • What if you fall and hurt yourself?
  • What if you
    get lost?
  • What if your deer attacks you?

In this hunter’s story,
the question became what happens when your supposedly dead animal isn’t quite so

Remember that even if the animal hits the ground, it may not be dead.
Take a few extra minutes when you approach just to make sure that they are! The
pictures can wait.  Be careful and have a good hunting season.


The Experience of a Lifetime!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

I just got back from my early season mule deer hunt. It was a huge success. I was able to harvest not the biggest deer that I have ever shot, but a deer that I am the most proud of! He is a very nice deer – but what really made it one of the best hunting experiences that I have ever had was the way in which I was able to take this animal. My hunt had it all.

  • Physically demanding,
  • Beautiful scenery,
  • Raging bull elk,
  • and last but not least … I found great deer.

It was by far the most physical hunting experience that I have ever had. If you have never done a back pack hunt, I highly suggest that you give it a shot.

Here’s how it went.

  • I started my hunting trip at 8:00 am Friday morning. By 2:00 I had reached my campsite.
  • After another thirty minutes I had camp set up and I was ready to settle in.
  • After a short nap and some great food, it was time to grab the binoculars and go do some glassing to figure out where I wanted to be opening morning. I was unable to locate any deer that evening, but I  knew that they were there because I had seen them on previous scouting trips.  I did spot several good bull elk and had a good time watching them practice for the upcoming rutting rituals.
  • So after working up my opening morning strategy, I headed back to camp to get ready for an early night. It got pretty chilly that night, in fact it snowed on me. However, I had plenty of company because the neighbors – the elk – were quite vocal for most of the evening.
  • The next morning found me glassing the shady side of a bowl that I had scouted the day before. Although it looked like a great area I didn’t see any deer.
  • As the sun got higher and it started to illuminate the area, I took a cue from the elk and started to retreat and follow the shadows. As I skirted the top of the ridge that I was on, the washes below me were still shadowed by the peak to the south of me.
  • As I continued glassing I spotted two bucks making there way to wash that was closest to me. I tried ranging the animals with my range finder, but they were still out of range. So I started skirting the ridge above them to try and close the distance. Just about the time I had run out of ridge, the deer decided to head down one of the drainages to try and get into the dark timber before it started getting warm. I figured it was now or never. The deer were still below me and they had absolutely no idea that there was anybody even close.
  • So, I took off my backpack and assumed the prone position using my pack as a good solid rest for my rifle.
  • It took me about 10 minutes of glassing to decide which deer I wanted to take.
  • I ranged him one more time. He was 510yds away. Now I know most people do not believe in shooting at an animal that far away and I would have to agree with most people. However, in target practice, I normally shoot up to 600yds on a regular basis. So I knew exactly what I was capable of as well as what my rifle could do. Luckily there wasn’t any wind whipping across the canyon, so I held 23” above the heart/lung area of the deer and squeezed the trigger.
  • I was unable to hear the slap of the bullet impacting on the deer, but I didn’t need to. The 180gr bullet entered high on the front shoulder and exited just behind the shoulder on the opposite side. The buck dropped in his tracks. The only problem was, was that he was standing on about a 60 degree grade, so after about 150yds of rolling down the chute, he came to a rest.

To say that I was ecstatic would be an understatement!

The next challenge would be to figure out how to get to him!

It was 7:30 opening morning and I had been lucky enough to have already gotten my deer.
The only problem was that he was well over 500yds away across some pretty rough terrain. So I decided to go back and pack up camp.
After packing up camp, I started making my way over to where the deer had fallen.
The only problem was, is that as I got closer the landmarks that I had used to pinpoint his location, they no longer looked the same!  So I spent a while glassing the rock slide until I was able to find him and make my way over to him.
Wow, was I pleased when I got up to him!
He may not have been the biggest deer in the forest, but I was sure happy to have him.
After taking some pictures, the real work began. I gutted him, quartered and then deboning the meat. I was 8 miles in and wanted to save weight anyway that I could!
So after that was complete, I put the meat into plastic bags and put it into my backpack.
Let me tell you, the first time that I picked that pack up and put it on my back, I told myself “YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND!” I didn’t h
ave a scale but later on after I had taken the meat to the butcher, I figured that I had about 130lbs on my back and I still had a long way to go to get back to the truck.
Five hours, three gallons of water and god knows how many rest stops along the way I found myself back at the trailhead and my truck. I was exhausted, dehydrated, and basically felt like I had been kicked around by a mule, but there was no way to wipe the grin off of my face!
I had completed one of the most difficult hunts that I had ever been on and I was so excited that I almost wrecked my truck getting down the mountain so that I could get into cell phone range and call someone.
Hopefully one of these days I will be able to draw another tag and have the same great experience that I was able to have this time. If you ever get a chance to go on a hunt like this I would highly encourage you to.
Let me warn you though, it will definitely test your metal.
Good luck.

High Country Scouting

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Well this weekend we were finally able to get out and do a little scouting in the high country.  I had my head scout and Sherpa with me so I knew that things were going to work out well. I was trying to get a lay of the land, being as how it will be the first time that I hunt this new area. So with my two helpers, our trusty watch dog and me
we rucked up and headed out on a six mile (one way) hike. We went to an area called Twin Crater lakes. The lakes themselves are a little above timberline, so we made our camp in the trees and then walked the last quarter of a mile to the lakes.
What a beautiful area! So once we had seen the lakes, we headed back to camp. Along the way we stopped and refilled our water bladders using a pump filter. This was the first time that I had ever used one and I have to say that I was impressed. It did not take long and the water tasted a lot better than if I had used iodine tablets. I had picked up a new backpack to use this year for a pack-in hunt. I chose the Badlands 4500 and I could not have been happier. What a mule!
I will give a full product review in upcoming posts, but to say the least, I was impressed.

Once we got back to camp, I really started to get to work glassing the surrounding hillsides. I was using the 4 step glassing process developed by David Long and mentioned in his book, Public Land Mulies (The Bottom Line). Like I have said earlier, I am new to this backcountry type of hunting. I really didn’t know were or how to start. After reading David’s book it really gave me a direction to go and it really has helped me out so far. I highly suggest reading it if you get a chance.

It was early in the afternoon and I really wasn’t seeing anything, but as the day got later I started noticing a few nice mule deer and then a fairly decent bull elk. Success! Well kind of. I was glad to see that some techniques that I had read about worked, but I still am looking forward to seeing a little more of the area that I have to hunt. We have another trip planned in a couple of weeks and hopefully I will be able to narrow down the area that I would like to start out on opening day.

I drew a early season backcountry deer tag!

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Well now the work begins. I found out Friday that I drew an early season deer permit in one of our wilderness areas here in Colorado – above 10,000 feet! It is a tag that I was hoping to get but I really didn’t think that I would be fortunate enough to get it this year. I am very excited. I have never been on a backcountry pack-in hunt. I have talked my girlfriend into doing the hunt with me. She says that it will be a way to finally get me to go backpacking!  I haven’t done very much of this sort of thing since I got out of the service. I am really looking forward to it. Since I was a kid I have always dreamed about packing into some remote area and hunting. I have always believed that the big ones live were people can’t get to them. Now I get to test my theory. Even if I am unable to connect on a nice deer, the adventure alone will be a hopefully not a once in a lifetime experience but truly an adventure that I can cherish for the rest of my life.

Like I said earlier, now that the easy part is over, the work will surely begin. Like I stated in earlier posts, I try and stay in fairly decent shape, but with this new challenge ahead of me I will need to really step up my workout routine.

Wish me luck; I will keep you posted on the progress. I hope that you were lucky enough to draw the tags that you wanted.

Do you want to hunt in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Whooohooo! For those of you who hunt in Colorado – the days of driving through Rocky Mountain National Park ooing and awing at all of the trophy elk and deer might be over.  You might actually get a chance to hunt in such a mecca – or at least your dream just got one step closer to becoming a reality. Today I read that they might turn RMNP into a wilderness area with the help of a few congressmen and women and a bill that they are submitting to congress! The details are still not clear on what this means to sportsmen and women, but it is one step closer to allowing hunters a chance to hunt in a pristine and controlled environment. At the same time it would help the park control an already over-populated herd of elk.

Keep your fingers crossed! I will keep you informed of the outcome.

Prairie Dogs: What happens when people interfere with population controls

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

I believe that hunting is a proven way to maintain a healthy population of animals in today’s society.  And when I say hunting I mean all types: waterfowl, big game, and rodents. When I read or hear of diseases popping up or spreading, like I heard about the plague here in Colorado today, it raises some serious concerns about the health and well being of the environment and its residents.  We are supposed to be managing those areas!  In Colorado the tree huggers (as I call them) were able to lobby and get the prairie dog protected on public land here. In areas with high populations of people such as the Peoples Republic of Boulder, the cities and counties started buying up parcels of land known around here as open space to create buffers in-between cities. Well as you can guess as with any piece of property in the west that is unused and not managed properly, it becomes infested with prairie dogs. If you have never seen what damage a prairie dog colony can do to a piece of farmland you would be amazed. On an adjoining piece of property to the one that I have permission to hunt geese on, the previous owner had a fondness for the rodents and did nothing to control them. When the new owners of that 50 acre parcel decided that it was time to claim back the property from the prairie dogs, they hired a company to come in and kill the little critters. They charged 2 dollars a hole, 2700 holes later and a truckload of money they were able to get them under control. Now that was just on 50 acres! Could you imagine what the damage would be on a half section or even a quarter section of land? Also, a friend of mine who works for the Longmont parks and recreation office was put in charge of a study to find out how much it would cost to relocate these disease carrying rodents because it would be against the law to poison them. He contacted a government certified agency to get the quote. Now hold on to your seat, because you are just not going to believe this! It was almost $400 dollars per animal. To relocate a town of 100 animals that would be $40000.00 of tax payer money – to get rid of a disease carrying nuisance that if properly managed and exterminated would cost a fraction of the money. But now, because we have let people that have no clue about game management dictate how a species should be saved, I read that some of our parks are being closed because these same little rodents that we have allowed to overpopulate and destroy property now have the plague and are a danger to our pets, children and us! When are people going to figure out that to manage a species, you can’t just let them run wild, you actually have to have a plan and manage them.

Photo by Kevin Saff .