Archive for the ‘elk’ 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.

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.

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.

What did you draw?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Well today I am patiently waiting (well maybe not so patiently) for the Colorado Division of Wildlife to post the 2007 Elk draw results. I already found out that I did not draw my moose, sheep and goat tags. So even though it is another disappointing draw year so far, I still have a couple of shimmering stars still out there to wish on.  The elk draw is supposed posted today and then I am still waiting and hoping on the Colorado deer and antelope draw, as well as the Wyoming antelope draw that does not come out until July.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me waiting to hear back on what animals I will be chasing this year is almost like a second Christmas. I may not get everything that I want, but with anything that I get, I will have fun. With more and more states posting the outcome online. I no longer have to wait until that day when Mr. Postman drops the results at the house. As the countdown continues, I can only hope that the Drawing Gods will smile on me.

Good luck with your pursuits!

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.

Hunting camps make good friends

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

If you hunt a lot you have probably been in several different hunting camps. For me, a lot of the enjoyment of hunting is the camp itself, the people you hunt with.

I have been hunting with the same group of guys for over 20 years now. We have had new people come and go, but for some reason the same core group of people seem to stick together. I don’t know why this is. Maybe it is the way we all razz each other without anyone taking offense? Maybe it is because we all chip in when we are in camp? Maybe even because when we are in the woods and one of us has been fortunate enough to take an animal, our group starts materializing out of the woods to help each other out? I do know this: the people that I hunt with are some of the best hearted, good spirited, and most fun people that I could ever hope to hunt with.

This is one of the reasons that I cherish my elk hunting trips so much. It’s a time for friends to get together and enjoy each others’ company, share stories and basically rib the heck out of one another. For me, having enjoyable people in camp is essential to the overall satisfaction to the trip. You may not always be able to harvest animals, but at least at the end of the day or trip, you can look back and laugh at some of the things that happened and at the memories that will last a lifetime.  Like that time that Gary tried to hammer the 2’ long piece of wood into the 20” deep stove at 2 am. After a while of that, Dad hollered “Gary, I think I have a bigger hammer in the truck if you think that would help?” and the tent erupted into laughter.