Elk Season 2012. The above picture pretty much sums it up. We had a blast during the month of September hunting elk in Colorado. A few tags were punched. Many opportunities presented themselves. Memories were made. Friendships were enriched. And most importantly, we survived to tell about it all.
I wrote in my journal almost every day up on the mountain this year, but I have been remiss in telling any stories here on my blog. (Sorry.) I've decided it would be fun to let everyone in on my journal entries and retell our adventures in a day-by-day method here at FromtheDraw.com. So hopefully this won't get old because I have 19 days of journal entries! Some of them are pretty sketchy, so I'll either post them as I they were written, or I'll take the liberty of editing as I see fit. It really depends on how tired I am each night. So without further ado, here is DAY ONE at Elk Camp....
MORNING HUNT: Aspen Ridge Road Mtn*
Saturday, August 25
Rudy from Huntography followed close behind our truck as we crept up the winding road. Stars illuminated the path before us and eyeballs along the side of the road flashed back at us, indicating we were in the right spot. We rolled into camp around 2:30 AM last night (or this morning - however you want to look at it). Alarm clocks buzzed shortly afterwards. A few hours of rest is all we needed because today is the day we've been waiting for all year. It's the day that matches the date stamped on the elk tags in our pockets. Opening day!
After resting our eyes for a couple hours, it was time to slap on our boots, don camouflage, grab bows and load into the truck. Granola bars were munched on as we drove down the infamous road which leads to our hunting destination. We parked on top of "Aspen Ridge Road" which is the furthest area from camp - only 16 miles but an hour drive time. It has proven over the years that the early morning wake up call, and treacherous road is worth the trip. After hiking only 100 yards from the top, we got into elk right away. It happened fast! I don't think that Rudy was quite ready for it to happen that quick, but he was able to capture some great video clips! A cow, calf and spike came into 30 yards. I could have taken the calf that morning... but who wants to shoot a calf on the very first morning when you have 20 days of hunting. I may be regretting that one later.
We called them in a second time and watched them feed on some small aspens about 100 yards off. How fun!
On the drive back to camp, Rudy saw a herd of elk moseying through the dark timber just above a meadow we've lovingly dubbed "Big Bull Meadow." He casually said, "Look at those elk." Allen slammed on the breaks and we bailed out of the truck, leaving Rudy wondering what in the world is going on. Rudy caught up to me and we snuck in as close as we could. However, they were on the move and we could only get about 60 yards before spooking a couple of cows. We all had a good laugh at Rudy. Now, a word of caution... you must be 50 yards (from the centerline) off a maintained road to shoot an elk in Colorado. So make sure you know if the back road you are on is maintained, and if you aren't sure... step off far enough to be legal!
EVENING HUNT: Aspen Ridge Road Mtn - Cliff Side
Saturday, August 25
This evening we dropped down to the first tier and had a bull bugle down below. Troy and I dropped down with Rudy, while Allen and Todd moved up above to do their best cow interpretations. After 30 minutes of cow calling and no action we regrouped, and proceeded to goof around in the open meadow.
A word to the wise... pay attention when messing around, because I can't tell you how often a bull has come in when we aren't expecting it. It makes sense if you think about it. You get all set up and go through a calling sequence, and then stop calling. The bull then gets curious and comes in to check out where you went.
This is exactly what happened. Our bull bugled down below, but was closer this time. He was curious where the cows went. After hearing another bugle, we decided to try and make it work. Todd and Troy backed up this time and Allen and I nonchalantly looked at each other and said, "Let's go kill a bull." I think we even skipped hand-in-hand down the hill (possibly captured on film by Rudy - Yikes!).
Anyway, Allen sat toward the middle next a big pine and I sat on the edge of the meadow. The bull ended up coming up along the tree line. I could HEAR him coming before I could see him, so I started to draw back. The tip of my arrow caught just enough of the pine tree next to me to knock it off the rest. I kept my cool and let it drop to the ground without making a sound. I quickly nocked another arrow. The bull was now just around a small group of pines - 5 YARDS AWAY! The problem? I didn't realize he was that close. Seriously. I thought he was around the big pine 20 yards away and as I took one small step simultaneously as I drew my bow back, the bull caught the slight sound of a leaf crunched under my boot and did a 180 in mid-air! ALL I SAW WAS FUR! I looked back and Rudy was motionless with his eyes wide open and jaw to the ground. Both of us were in disbelief and shock of what just happened. After retelling the sequence of events to the rest of the pack, I was endlessly harassed for not shooting that bull. However, I wasn't the only one that didn't shoot him. Rudy, you could have at least got the bull on film, so that I could prove that I didn't have a shot even though he was that close! Sheesh! (Of course, I'm totally kidding, because he had the camera on me and was expecting the kill shot.)
And while all of this was happening down below, Todd and Troy had cows hanging around up above. Todd was face down in the dirt as Troy was getting ready to draw on a cow at 30 yards away... she never gave him a clear shot. (At least that is what he says. Ha!)
Next up... DAY TWO
*Note: Locations have been renamed to protect the area we hunt. Mostly it is because I'm scared of Big Al coming after me and stuffing his poop chair over my head.
From the Draw
A website devoted to sharing bowhunting stories. From the draw in the mountains to the draw on paper, the moments live on.