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HooknHorns

Colorado DYI Archery Elk Hunt

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I'm starting to put together pictures and storyline to share from my hunt. Sorry but this will take a few days, bare with me. There's a lot of work to do around the house after a two week vacation.

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Over a years worth of anticipation my time for a western style hunt was here. Talking to my partner we decided to head to an OTC of southern Colorado where he has previous experience with. There should be plenty of room to stretch my legs even though it will take place on public land.

Buying the gear, looking over the terrain on google earth of the area to get a better clue where to start took up time in recent months. I can tell you that satellite pics do not do it justice..

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After a 1100 mile trek straight thru the night. We caught up with the other foursome from Wisconsin. Out of six of us, three of us were elk rookies. We picked up supplies for ten days and hit the trail.

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The trail was rough but the wheelers stayed on the trailer. Two hours later we hit the campsite.

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After scouting just one night, opening morning was up on the air as far as where to go. My partner being an older guy with health problems, couldn't go where I wanted to. I realized this when planning this trip and was not a problem, i'd go solo. With other hunters driving atvs for miles to reach their spots, I figured "what the heck, just climb up behind camp".

Standing at the base of the hill and looking up, I hoped my body was in good enough shape to do this. I thought to myself " Dang, now that's steep!". Now breathing deep and hard like l worked on all summer. I was pleasantly surpised how fast I recovered once on top. Within 50ft I ran into to fresh sign no more than a day old. Still hunting into the wind seemed the best option instead of a calling setup. Not to confident in calling yet, but that would change. After 30 minutes I met up with John, my old friend, and discussed what we saw. Both seeing good sign high and low, we figured we are in a good area.

Worked back up and started to realize how hard it was going to be to hunt into the wind, blowing in all directions and switching nonstop. A little bit further I see my first elk rubs that reached up six feet. Wow impressive. Used my gps and began to mark fresh elk sign as I creeped forward. Keeping eyes front and not letting my mind wander was tough already. The landscape, trees and the feeling if finally experiencing this made me smile the whole time. Not really expecting things to happen so fast, I was caught off guard.

Off to my right I see a dark brown head and big ears staring right at me. First elk! It's a cow. Then another straight ahead moving broadside. Then another smaller one. In awe, my hunting instincts were gone. I was busted and knew it. With a sharp bark they trotted off and out of bow range they went. Still cool.

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Can't wait to hear your story, I leave for public land elk hunt this Friday for an 8 day hunt. I also have a mule deer buck tag I got too. What unit were you in? I'll be hunting unit 45.

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Can't wait to hear your hunt story.

last time I was in Montana on an archery hunt for elk and deer, it was for 2 weeks and it was all I could do. Not sure if my energy level would allow another archery hunt the DIY way but have thought about a guided rifle hunt, just so much moola.

Scenery at times is worth the trip all in it's own.

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As I moved on trying to keep the wind in my face I got closer to the edge of the canyon.

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I started to gain elevation and kept eyeing how far down that river looked. Another mental lapse tripped me up. There bedded on a shelf 35 yards away lays a nice 5x5 bull watching me as I climbed right to him. Frozen, we both waited for the first move. Letting me knock an arrow, I didn't know how long he was going to stick around. Finally putting tension on my release, he whipped 180 and fired his afterburners. Man he really never dodged trees or branches. Just ran over everything in his way. For such a big critter, these things can move. Afterwords I did do a little calling set with no avail. Too little to late.

Moving on I found a good water hole but it seemed to open to rely on for an evening spot so I marked it for later. Finally heading back to camp to regroup with my partner. We talked about another spot to check out. Scouting it revealed good sign but not quite as fresh. Tried a couple calling sets just before dark but nothing. I was surprised the hear no bugling from the bulls after dark. At camp we ate well and slept better. Day one in the books.

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Sorry guys, didn't realize the kiddos had so much to do after school.

The second day was little uneventful for me. Walked a few miles looking for a plan B. Checked out a north facing slope up from a dry creek bed. Seen some mule deer and a monster jack rabbit. 3 pm rolled around and wanted to head to the fore mentioned water hole. Then I ran into a problem with my GPS. I could not find the waypoint. Kind of freaked me out a bit but somehow found a really good waterhole inside of a stand of aspens. The downwind side was steep like a tree stand shot. 35 yards all the way around. While sitting I tried to figure out my location. Marked that spot and checked my compass to get a heading back to camp before it got really dark. I looked up in time to see a small bull running right at me. Then when he banked right and up hill at a trot, I wondered what that was all about. Thinking someone bumped him.

Back at camp a new friend reminded me to recalibrate my garmin. Duh. Don't leave with a back up compass and get set gps everyday just in case.

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Other guys in camp weren't seeing a whole lot. Which led me to believe I was on to something with a third of a mile from my tent.

3rd morning arrived. I haven't felt the need to get up earlier that shooting hours. Drank coffee, enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere this hunt was having. Not rushed. I didn't want to be on top of the ridge before the elk due to the thermals coming down before light. I knew I had to get there fast before the sun broke the peak on the other side.

I found a beautiful looking spot with taller grass, aspens on the other side and a little island of pines to call from. I've read do not set up behind something that will block shot opportunities. So I sat my butt flat on the ground at the stump end of big pine log. I'm by far an expert caller. So I started with some cow and calf talk. With minutes I see a bull walking right to me. Quickly I ranged the final aspen at 50yds. My problem was I got so nervous I could barely look at his rack. Small bull but it was my first time. As long as he was legal he was mine.

Slowly moving into my range, he angled broadside at 45. Looking for these other elk his head moved side to side. Seemingly looking right at me, I could tell he wasn't coming any closer. Now or never. Pulling back as slow as I could, I started to struggle with drawing. The arrow crept forward a quarter inch and then my rest slapped my shelf. @$)(;:_',?!!! Don't panic put the arrow up and draw. Meanwhile the bull now picking me out had this look on his face like "I can't believe I didn't see that lump there to begin with." Turning his head and throwing it back like a snob he bounced off on all fours. Strike two.

I've read it's better for them to see you than to smell you. I made the decision to leave pronto before the thermals turned. Talking to just my partners about what happened. I told him I could kill an elk tomorrow 100%. But that wouldn't get him to climb that steep hill right at camp. He had his spot and I realized it was his hunt too. Which very well could be his last. So I didn't push the issue. The other guys were starting to see a few but still no bugling.

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Taking Barry, a veteran elk hunter, I pleaded with him that I needed a calling partner. He asked if I was 100% that I could kill one so close to camp. Absolute I replied. Let's talk to Dave, a rookie like myself. He was all in.

The next morning and my now partner and I talked. I told him that I was placing him ahead of me and I will call for him. Then he could return the favor on another spot I needed him for. When you have two guys unselfishly calling for each other, things go a lot smoother.

Back up the hill we go, I explained to him why we waited till we did. Then hauled to get there, shedding outer-gear on the way. Settled in I started to call just like the morning before. After just moments I see elk moving though aspens behind me. I quickly got Dave's attention and with a couple hand signals we switched rolls. Backing up I was an easy thirty from the trail. A calf was the first on the scene with a cow trailing. Decision made, I'm shooting. Drawing back hard without a hesitation, I hit anchor and waited.

Mostly diaphragm calls are used to stop an elk for the shot. Since that was concealed yet I was at their mercy. The cow came up from behind and I let my slick trick loose. With those long legs she moved faster than I thought. Maybe checking to see if the coast was clear for the calf before it entered the clearing. Watching the arrow bury half way, I see the shot further back than planned. ,!$)()@/. Paying close attention to the wound I knew it was going to be a long morning.

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With all quiet, listening for any signs of direction she went. Dave snuck up to where she was hit and we had a little pow wow. I told him it was a cow that came through and where I hit her. Im marking the spot and backing out. Just then there was a elk that barked. I quickly backed up to see If we could double up. Using a rock I hit the ground with some thuds and cow called. Over my right shoulder I see a bull looking for a cow. Then another bull. Young ones. Moving up to bow range from Dave, bull used a pine tree to cover up. No shot. Then they walked off. 15 minutes go by the another calf shows up. Maybe a good sign if it belonged to that cow.

Leaving not to disturb any thing, we arrived at camp to hear some good news. Jason, another cheesehead, got lucky with a small herd and took a cow. Frank his partner had a small 6x7 sneak in with in a couple yards while watching another bull. No shot. It's amazing they can slip in quiet or sound like a dozer.

John my partner passed up a cow cause of the rack walking behind her. Only to hit a small twig and wiff on that bull. It was a good morning to be out.

Jason's cow just happen to expire next to the trail. So she'll be an easy retrieval. 4 hrs go by and up the mountain we go. Going back to the spot where the elk was hit. We found tracks but it was hard to distinguish the cow and calf. Dave going left found some blood on a dried log. Little by little we have something to go on. Tracking though this type of terrain took some time to get used to. Not a lot of green down lower unless it was thin grass or pine needles. Very dry ground also complicated things. The logs she went over were almost white which helped out.

After 150 yards I mentioned to Dave she has come along ways without bedding down. Peaking over the next rise, there she was. Quickly nocking an arrow for a second shot, I walked up to her in disbelief. Here's the bummer. Clearing the other side I see her eyeballs were gone and her anus opened with flies on it. I just couldn't bring my self for a picture session. I told Dave to make sure his pepper spray was out and ready just in case. With help on the way I quickly went to work on the gutless method. I will tell you that the jug of black pepper and citric acid saved my hunt. Dave being an elk rookie did his homework well. Plain and simple. The pepper was put on the meat while butchering and the flies would not land on it to lay eggs. The citric acid works with ph levels to deter bacteria. It wouldn't be a success without this meat in the freezer. Pictures or not. Sorry guys.

The arrow penetrated just behind the diaphragm and some how worked all the way to her hindquarter. I'm guessing she expired quicker than I though, but still did the right thing by backing out.The heat was the biggest reason why I gave her only four hours. Well with help and the quarters, neck meat and loins in game bags we started down hill to camp. We ate good that night, tenderloins and blackstrap, well beer too.

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Hanging to cool. grin

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Now it's up to me to try and get john a shot. With camp being a little more laid back than before gave me time for pictures and watch the guys fish a little.

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I think they were cutthroats or a cross.

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This mountain lake was beautiful. Didn't take long before a limit was pulled out.

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The next night john and I did a calling set then to move to the meadow just before light ran out. Three cows came running from a quarter mile away to just 40 yards of me but john didn't have a shot.

Night six I went along to see if I could call in one of the bulls that frank and Jason finally had bugling by them.

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Near at the end of the day I see this big bull make it's way towards us. I got the gitters just seeing him close to 100 yards. The thermals started to head down and right in his face. Never got closer and disappeared.

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All in all every one in camp had chances at bulls by day 6 before the hunting pressure got bad. The elk didn't really talk that much and just kinda moved on. Two cows were all that went home but it was a great trip. Met some new friends and spent precious time with an old one. Sitting on top of the mountains at 11,000. Thinking back on old times and dreaming about future hunts. Chasing the most exciting beast in the Rockies. 84B50C67-9E75-4773-9207-737A34C460E5_zps

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I hope to do it again some day. Till next time thanks for following and be safe. Sorry about wait I did all of this from phone and predictive was really getting to me.

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Awesome story. Thanks for sharing. Some good stories and experiences and everyone made it home safe. It doesn't get better than that!

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Congrats on the success. The beautiful country adds to so much to a hunt.

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