Friday, December 01, 2017

First Archery Elk Hunt

Shelz bought me a bow from her son a couple of years ago, but for whatever the reason I had not taken up archery until this year.  After hearing stories about how much more fun and engaging elk hunting is during the rut, I decided to give it a go this year.

The first weekend Dave, Jason, Justin, and I hiked our gear in a mile up from Kiss Me rock and set up camp at the top of the old burn.  We even took an old cooler up to give us a permanent storage container on the mountain.

Dave and Jason hiked back out because their muzzle-loader cow tags weere not open season yet.  Justin and I hiked up and over to the creek and did some cow calling while overlooking the upper basin from two arrow meadow. 

We spotted a nice bull elk hanging around with a cow at the far ridge line just up from two arrow.  We watch the two elk make their way around until they finally disappeared in the oak brush.  As the light faded and we cow called a bit more and Justin spotted one cow elk making her way towards us but she was a long ways off.  We called and called, but she never came in.

It finally got to be close to the end of shooting light, so we made our way back to camp.  As we were approaching camp, we heard the cow elk call to us from exactly the spot we had just been!  Man, we should probably have stayed put.

The next morning we returned to the same spot, and watched a group of around ten cow elk come all the down the far ridge from the rocky nob all the way through two arrow meadow and disappear into the pinion trees.  We figured they were headed for water in the creek, so we decided to work our way down to where we thought they would be just on the other side from two arrow.  We made our way down, but never saw those cows again.  Justin and I set up in the meadow and called for a couple of hours but no response. 

Being that it was late August, around the 25th 2017, we only could hunt for the weekend.  I wanted to save my few vacation days I had left for later in the season when the rut was in full swing.  In hindsight we probably should have tried to make a play on the one bull we saw, but it is tough to do on an evening hunt.  All in all it was a ton of fun to hunt elk in August with a bow and see that vocalizations really do work!  Great first weekend!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Pack

Monday we all went up to the radio towers so we could pack out the two elk.  Johnny and Steve went in first because they still had licenses to fill.  They spotted a bull elk on the first ridge beyond the towers.  Johnny could not see the antlers but could see the bulls balls.

We loaded up the packs and Clark couldn't make it.  These animals are big!  It ended up taking me three days to fully get my bull elk out of there.  I would hike up in the morning, get a quarter on my pack, eat lunch, then slog down the mountain arriving at my ATV at dusk.

I went on a straight line from what we call Kiss Me Rock, up to the bald knob where just below I had harvested my bull elk.  This took me through the burn, then through thick oak brush, out in the open on a path I would never take when actually hunting.  Too easy to see a human for these elk.

Torreys - Kelso Ridge

My second trip to Torrey Peak and the Kelso ridge, Shelley joined me on the adventure. 
The scramble was easier than I remember, and yet it has some cool sections.

Here's a dramatic shot of Shelz high in the mountains of Colorado.
Not many people were on the Kelso Ridge this day.  Lots of people taking the standard route up to Grey's Peak.  Nice to get away from the crowds on a mountain close to Denver, Colorado.
Here's Shelz on the knife edge.  Quite fun for a flat lander from Florida!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Elk Hunt 2016

Elk Hunt 2016 was short and sweet!  We had planned to camp in the same spot on the radio tower road, but when Justin got there, there was already people there.  So he moved up the road a quarter mile and found another spot.  There were several other camps on the road.  Usually there is nobody!  What is happening to our area?  Did all the magazines say this is the hot spot?

Opening morning Justin and Travis went up the radio towers trail, while Dave and Steve went to the honey hole.  I went over to what we call lover's rock and up.  On the atv ride over, I took a wrong turn and went up to the fence line.  I can't believe after 20+ years of hunting that I can still make such a mistake.  It put me behind, but I decided to stick with my plan.

I got to lover's rock and hiked in in the dark.  I stalked and glassed my way up the ridge until about 8 am, when I spotted two deer: a doe and her yearling.  She was very nervous for some reason and eventually bounded up the hill in the thick oak brush.  I was just glassing around and then I spotted him!  There was a nice bull elk just 300 yards away in the oak brush.

There was no way I was going to be able to stalk any closer so I got out my shooting sticks and watched.  There were about five cow elk with the bull and a calf.  The bull eventually bedded down in the oak brush to where I could just see his antlers and his back.  I waited for what seemed like eternity, and finally decided to take the shot.

I was sure my first shot was a hit because he didn't move at all.  All of the other elk immediately took off, except for the calf.  The calf was looking directly at the bull as if to say, "What are we doing?  Shouldn't we run??"  I again waited for an eternity just watching to see if the bull would run.  Eventually I decided to take another shot.  I learned the hard way in previous seasons that elk are big tough animals and it often takes multiple hits from the 300 Win Mag to bring them down.  I think the second shot was a hit too, because this time he got up and started walking toward me.  I excitedly gave him a third and a fourth shot.  After the fifth shot, he was sitting down in the oak brush and raising his head as if trying to get a breath.  I was very excited and just watched him for quite some time.

Finally, his head disappeared in the brush and I made my plan to fight my way over to him.  A six point bull elk!  On opening morning!  It was the first time I had ever got my elk on opening morning. 

I did a gutless dress out as I waited for Justin and Travis to work their way over to help me.  Some other hunters told them that a big bear was ahead of them.  We decided to haul out the front quarters, backstraps, and antlers and leave the hinds over night since we did not have our packs with us.  The next morning, Steve and I hunted up to do the pack and we discovered that a bear had stolen one of the hind quarters.  I packed the other down as Steve continued to hunt.  He came out on a different road and so I ended up carrying the hind all the way out.  Lesson learned: take the best meat first.  Especially when you have two strong young men.

Awesome hunt for me!  The rest of the group did not see a single elk all season.  Johnny and Donny joined mid week and they hunted all over the mountain to no avail.  Donny had his silencer and muzzle break on his 300 which was very nice to shoot.