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Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3 Down (Part 1 - The Hunt)

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Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3 Down (Part 1 - The Hunt)

Old 10-17-2007, 12:27 AM
  #1  
EKM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Denver, Colorado
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Default Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3 Down (Part 1 - The Hunt)

Hunting out of Craig, Colorado....first rifle special elk season(elk only, no deer)....

Some of the aspens still had color, some were clean, and we had gloriously pleasant weather upon arrival and thru the opening day of the season. Camp was great and the food was excellent.

For my two man team, I paired up with a hunter that had not yet gotten an elk despite years of trying with iron sighted rifles like the 45-70 and he was ready for a change.I worked with him extensively prior to the season on rapid acquisition and rapid first shot execution with a scope and developing an automatic reload/reacquire pattern so asto capitalize onfollow up shots. We worked ona multitude of positions and also off hand; first with a scoped 22LR and then my scoped 30-06 which he used during the hunt. He used the 30-06 with 180 grain Partitions. I used my 375 H&H with 300 grain Partitions.

We got up at 1:30 AM on the opening dayas usual, ate abig breakfast, geared up and left camp by 3:00 AM and marched past the camps of snoring hunters and then hiked 4 miles back in under a new moon (pitch black). The glittering lights of a sleeping community in the distant valley below sparkled in the darkness. The weather was warm and wind calm so topside we were stripped down to our long underwear during thetrek in (bigpacks with room for all your clothes are a handy thing).We easily made it to the "crows nest" and were readyfor actionan hour before first light. We layered back up upon arrival, but it was a pleasantly warm wait for shooting hours to come around.... it is not like that often.

There was some bugling and cow mews to be heard in the pre-dawnandwe could hear the wood-crashing-walk of a herd of elk in the nearby woods. However, as it turned out, there was not to be as much game spotted this year compared to others, we saw about 25 elk total whereas some years when lady luck smiles, we see 200-500 elk.We had three tags between us: his cow and my cow tag and my either sex (read bull)tag. From the beginning I told him, "We're going to get all three the opening day if you do your part." "When you see your cow, don't worry about me, take the first shot."

The first string of cows came into our kill zoneat 10:30 AM and he promptly knocked down a beautiful, large dry cow; I was glad to see he passed over the large spike that was running in the group. I did follow up duty and center punched the next bestcow remainingthru the shoulders; at the shot she dropped dead straight down onto her folded legs and onto her stomach and did not move and sat there semi-upright until I got there to field dress her. My partner was ecstatic at getting his first elk and after a short bit of celebration, the work began. We had them field dressed, quartered, bagged, tagged, andCWDID'edand hanging in the north side of various large evergreens by 2:00 PM (took a little longer since he wantedthe hide from his cow fully intact).

Winter "thunder show showers" were starting to pass thru the area with light snow and high winds. We sat in our sheltered lookout as the wind howled overhead and Itook a quick lunch whilechecking back and forth as I ate. My partner hinted that with the weather and the coming darkness maybe we should head back to camp.... I just smiled.... "remember what I told you; you've done your part now I've just got to finish up my end."

Even though we hadn't seen much game that was right in our "kill zone", I had this incredibly antsy feeling that something was going to pop soon; perhaps because of the changing weather; perhaps because I had visualized this thing for the lastmonth. Over and over I checked both sides of the ridge. One more munchy while waiting.... check the weak side.... bingo,there he came on a trot/run (3:20 PM), a bull on a path that would take him past the blind side of our position and into the saddle and then quickly out of sight. This wasn't what I would call a trophy bull, but he was legal andsince the action was kinda slow, I figured this fella and I had a standingappointment.

My partner, who was still eating and staying out of the wind and snow, looked up puzzled as I half-ran/half-stalked 10 yards past him with head low and rifleat readyto get past the blind spot and over to the "killview" that covered the approach to the saddle. As I reacquired the bull visually, I was amazed how fast he had closed the distanceto the saddle;in seconds he would be gone. I dropped to my butt, threw the M-70 to my shoulder and rested my elbows on my knees and acquired him instantly and noted that he was still onthat ground eating stride.

Iaimed 4 inches in front of his chest and the 375 H&H went off as if on autopilot; seemingly there was no report and no recoil. "Shlack-shlack", Iautomatically chambered another round and before I could even re-acquire the sight picture, my partner commentedfrom above, "he is down right there; that was fast, I barely got here in time." Even so, I jumped up and sprinted thedistance to wherethe bulllay to make sure he wasn't getting back up.... he wasn't, it was over.

Outcame the knives and we had yet one more set of quarters hanging in yet one more tree. It was now 5:00 pm and there was a nice break between the showers, the wind was calmand the sun shined warmly, warm enough to actually lay on the side hill against a fallen aspen, smoke a cigar, and salute what had been a fun day and an accurate prediction. Time to head back to camp with empty rifles and spent tags. On the way out, we paused at the point where we could hit cell service and called Sombrero for two more horses to be delivered to our campfor the next morning; tomorrow was going to be a packing day.
As we departed in the late afternoon,myheavy pack and a heavy rifle and a brisk pacecombined to cause me to put all my coats except my hunter orange vest in my pack and carry my cap in my hand in order to keep cool; I was working my camel back hard. What had been wide spread showers turned into steady frontal snow, very light at first and then after dark, heavier and steadier,yet the air temp remained comfortable for hiking.After darkness fell, the increasing snow and our drifting breath worked in the headlamps to make a surrealnavigation picture. As it cooled a bit, I put my cap back on, equalized my temperature and marched into the night; wegot back into camp at 8:30 PM, steaming, but quite happy. It had been a near record pace for a return trip from that area. I was lucky to have a partner that was in such good shape.

A quick meal of Elk Chili and Caesar Salad followed by some fruit dessert nourished our bodies. Next we got out of theblood stained clothing and then hung up thewet clothing to dry. We stripped downandquickly dried out by the heat and then got into somedry, cleanclothes. After some hot chocolate and Peppermint Schnapps, wecalled it a night.

That is my "1-2-3 elk down" hunting report for 2007 and I stand by it.
Life is good.
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Old 10-17-2007, 06:16 AM
  #2  
 
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Default RE: DIY Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3




Thanks for sharing a good day with us.


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Old 10-17-2007, 06:37 AM
  #3  
Fork Horn
 
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Default RE: DIY Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3

WOW!
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Old 10-17-2007, 07:03 AM
  #4  
Fork Horn
 
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Default RE: DIY Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3

Great story! Thank you for sharing. Why the 375 instead of the 338?
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:05 AM
  #5  
Fork Horn
 
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Default RE: DIY Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3

Good day.....to be relished.
Makes my stomach growl!
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Old 10-17-2007, 12:24 PM
  #6  
Nontypical Buck
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Default RE: DIY Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3

Good story EKM. Almost every year it seems that you (and most of your party) have their elk on the ground by the first or second day of the hunt.

After it is over, do you ever wish you'd spent more time actually hunting?? I understand that your elk adventures center a lot around effectively positioning yourself for that opening day stampede, and efficientlyprocessing the meat, and setting up an organized and highly functional camp, and enjoying the whole production and comraderie, I'm sure.

I'm sure you scout beforehand although, from my perception, it seems you may be hunting the same exact area year after year, and, of course, it seems you have intimate knowledge of how the elk will generally react in that area on those first
crucial days, and I can certainly understand and appreciate the fact that you are effective every year (no small feat).

But..

What I'm wondering is, at times like this, when you have two tags, and particularly one for a bull, do you ever desire to refrain from pulling the trigger in hopes of finding something bigger and prolonging the chance to be "purposefully afield"?

After all, I don't think that anybody would generally characterize the action as "kind of slow" on a day they've already killed one elk.

Thanks
Great job.
Let's see some pics
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Old 10-17-2007, 02:26 PM
  #7  
Spike
 
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Default RE: DIY Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3

EKM, how high were you guys hunting? Were going to Pagosa Springs for 3rd season. Unsure if were going yet cause its so hot. Were at 8000 ft and the chances of seeing elk when its hot are slim.
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:35 PM
  #8  
EKM
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Default RE: DIY Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3

Almost every year it seems that you (and most of your party) have their elk on the ground by the first or second day of the hunt.
After it is over, do you ever wish you'd spent more time actually hunting??
Nope, I'm there to kick ass and take names; plus I have the whole thing staged just the way I like it, the hunting and the killing is a significant but minority part of the outing.

"....it seems you may be hunting the same exact area year after year...."
Different drainages within the same forest district depending on the results of the scouting report.

"But...."
"But" means you are about to discount or disallowwhatever came before the "but."

"....when you have two tags, and particularly one for a bull, do you ever desire to refrain from pulling the trigger in hopes of finding something bigger?"
Sometimes, but then I slap myself and remind myself of the realities of hunting the Elkhead Mountains District which is a penesula of USFS ground surrounded by private ground with a very high density of hunters on the public ground.... 5 day season, less than 10% of the take comes from days 3, 4, and 5. Many a poor boy has found out the math the hard way, of course thru the Internet you wouldn'tbe aware ofthat.

"....and prolonging the chance to be "purposefully afield"?"
Thought I was "afield" and was quite "purposeful." The stand hunters sitting within a 1/4 mile of the road and/or trailhead seemed to think so. If elk can think, then they probably thought so too.

After all, I don't think that anybody would generally characterize the action as "kind of slow" on a day they've already killed one elk.
I know the area and I know seeing 25 elk when you normally see over a 100 is slow, popping two cows out of a group of8 is no measuring stick of the rate of action at all.

Thanks
Great job.
Let's see some pics
I used to do pix, but don'ttypically do so anymore, I'll consider, but seems to bea waste offur in the past.
EKM, out.
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:29 AM
  #9  
Nontypical Buck
 
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Default RE: DIY Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3

Thanks

Obviously you were "purposefully afield", that's why I used the word "prolonging".

I figured you were hunting an area that may not usually have potential for bigger bulls,but did not realize your season was so short.

Good job

pics are your option of course

Thanks
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:33 AM
  #10  
Nontypical Buck
 
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Default RE: DIY Colorado Elk Hunt: 1-2-3

EKM,
Good story and nice shooting.
I think you were a little harsh on Hillbilly for his questions.You seem almost smug to his query about the extra tag.He knows the rigors that go with elk hunting and he is a good hunter and a hard worker.For you to come out with the I'm almighty attitude was kinda rude.
Cerdit given where credit deserved.
BBJ
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