Yes, I have shot a number of elk over many years of hunting them, usually the first legal bull (or cow) to give me a chance at my limited ability to make a good shot.
My passion, however, has always and remains to be hunting big gnarly mule deer above treeline.
This is not that story.
I started applying for every big game species that Colorado would let me apply for within a couple of years of moving to the state.
I set my sights on drawing quality hunts for many of those species at some time in my future and was very diligent in making my annual donations. Over the years, I have been blessed with many amazing opportunities in many different areas for most of the fabulous species in this state - bighorn sheep, mountain goat, pronghorn, mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, etc.
When I started applying, I think the highest point requirement in the entire state for elk was somewhere around 6 points. That did not seem to be that far away and, being young, I though that it would be cool to work on getting one of those great tags and possibly a couple of those better tags - while hunting OTC and learning how to hunt the various species in the years that I didn't draw.
I certainly never dreamed that it would take so many years to get to one of those "pinnacle" units!
As you get older, life happens. Between work, family, kids, etc it piles up. I finally thought I would have the time to make the time needed for one of those premium trophy elk hunts this year. So, I cashed in 23 points for a Unit 2 archery elk tag - with pretty significant certainty that I would get it.
I immediately started thinking of a ton of negatives about the hunt.
The way most people shoot an elk is over a water hole (sounds worse than the rack or water boarding to me to sit on a water hole!).
A majority of the water is on private land and most people pay for access (unfortunately my financial situation was not good enough to afford that kind of cash outlay).
I had spent zero time in that area previously learning the country and elk and it is totally different than what I am used to.
I didn't know anyone else with that tag this year and was not looking forward to doing it all solo.
Almost immediately, I wanted to turn the tag in.
Actually drove up to the CPW office several times with the tag in hand to turn it in so that I could keep my points and try again next year.
I talked to several people with a lot of knowledge about the unit - either had killed bulls in there before or had helped guys out - and decided that, given enough time (for me most likely the entire season!) I might have a chance at a decent bull. This went on right up to the last day that I could turn it in!
In the middle of all this, I was looking for a new job. I had offers from British Columbia to Arizona to South America to California. Finally got a job offer in Colorado. Unfortunately, it was 7 hours from my house and 9 hours from the unit (would have to go home on both sides just to deal with stuff). I talked to the folks with the job in southern Colorado and worked out that I could take two weeks for hunting right after starting work the first of August. Seriously shortened my time for a hunt of a lifetime, but maybe, with a little luck, I could get it done.
Can't wait to follow this thread----------->
Good luck, Robb
It was hot, dusty and dry. I drove the roads and hiked to ridglines for potential glassing points. Took extra gas cans, two spares, tools and gear to be able to take care of any mechanical issues. I would pound the dusty roads dawn till dark and then just throw a pad and sleeping bag on the ground. It was hot out there!
The first occasion was when I sat my spotting scope in a little bush and saw movement under the bush.
Closer inspection revealed a baby prairie rattler! He didn't even have rattles yet, but was upset that I dropped my scope in his bush! He coiled up and struck the end of the scope! I made sure I was out of range and that he was alone before easing my scope back out of the bush.
I have a standing rule that any snake that doesn't try to directly get me gets a free pass, I gave him his space and set up about 20' away. I made sure to go wide of his bush when headed back to the truck!
The second occurance happened on the way back to the truck. I had my arms full of optics and tripod and was weaving thru sagebrush, keeping my eyes out for more snakes. Kind of let my guard down when I was almost to the truck and noticed movement right under the next sage bush.
Wham! A bigger snake struck at my foot! I squealed like a little girl and jumped back dropping over $7,000 worth of optics between me and the snake. Luckily, he missed as my boots were the lightweight tennis shoe type. That snake did not get a pass! I got my bow out and a judo tip did a good job on him! Will make a nice addition to the limbs of one of my bows!
Who is crazy enough to think any elk in his right mind would ever come out into this forsaken county!!!??!
Just having my 15's and spotting scope hit the ground was enough to make me sick!
Thought my 15's were broken but was able to get them adjusted back in. Not having them or the spotting scope on this hunt would have made it pretty difficult in some of those areas for sure.
Whew! Close call!
Not sure why I can't get the second one to rotate...
I decided to hunt the second and fourth weeks of the season. Had a buddy come up for a couple of days the second week of the season to get a feel for the unit. He is getting really close to drawing the tag so wanted to learn a bit about the unit. I really appreciated the company.
The conditions were horrible - hot, smoky, and full moon.
I did not see what I was after.
Got into several bulls bugling each day. Passed on several that I did not take pictures of that most guys would love to have, but they were just not what I wanted. Called in two bulls right into my lap (under 20) but didn't have a shot angle on them.
Wednesday evening, the wind picked up and was blowing up to 50 mph up on the mountain. It was miserable. I thought my tent was going to blow away.
It was still very windy Thursday morning. We decided to glass off the mountain down onto the cedar flats in hopes of seeing some elk that might be up and not dealing with so much wind.
We picked up two elk on a slope way out early and nothing else. We decided to drop down further off the hill to get to a spot more out of the wind and try to pick up some elk closer.
Dan picked up some cows in the cedars. I was a few feet away with a different angle and picked up a bull with them. He looked very good, so I decided to make a stalk.
I pealed off my jacket and left my optics with Dan. We discussed how long it would take to get down to the elk and vastly underestimated the mountain underneath us. I took off and had not gone far before I was cliffed out. Had to backtrack and loop around until I found an elk trail that allowed me to get through the rocks. As I dropped, I kept glassing for the elk to see where they were going.
When I got to the bottom, it was much easier travelling but still rough going through thick p-j and rocks in a couple of areas that we also couldn't see from the top. The elk continued to move to the north and wandered east and then back to the west. I spotted the cows a number of times and the top of the bull's rack once during the stalk. Due to the wind, I had to loop way out to the east and north and then come at them from the east or northeast. Got into the cows several times at under 20 yards and luckily did not get busted. Would just freeze in place when I saw any part of an elk close and then move after they moved off.
Finally saw the bull in a small opening with some sage brush. He was north of where I spotted him and I knew there were cows in the cedars between us. I made another wide loop in the cedars and came into his location from the north east. He was too far into the opening for a shot at about 50 yards. I bumped a cow just as I got to the edge. She ran behind the bull and I immediately dropped to my knees and started digging for a cow call.
The bull's head snapped up and watched the cow then snapped back toward where she had come from. I knew that he was going to bolt at any second so the next time he looked toward the cow I let out a cow call.
He looked back my way but couldn't see a cow.
He looked back the other way and I gave him a second call.
He spun my way and trotted in to about 25 yards. He was head on and looking in the brush for that lost cow. No shot.
I hid behind my bow and just watched him out of the corner of my eyes.
After what seemed like forever, he turned to his right go back to the real cow.
I do not remember shooting, just the arrow sticking out of his left side and blood splashing out. It looked like a perfect 10-ring.
I heard him run for a ways and then a big crash and knew he was down.
He made it about 100 yards into the cedars and crashed.
A lot of them are on the bowsite fairly regularly - Jaquomo, Mathews Man, Kurt, Nesser, and of course Dan (we met here many years ago and has become a great friend).
Thanks for all the support and information. Without that help, this hunt would have been much more difficult!
Yes, I believe it was.
The country, the hunt, the results.... and most of all the support from family and friends.
I will not live long enough and do not have the finances to do this hunt again.
Truly a Hunt of a Lifetime!
Thanks for following along.
He Finally showed up at the house Saturday afternoon. He was depressed that he had lost so much time from the hunting season and had to get a new bow because his old one had been stolen. The new bow was not shooting straight and he was very depressed about the whole situation.
My wife and I were up to our elbows in elk meat butchering.
I got my son to help out and take him to a secret spot to at least try for a deer. He got a nice one Sunday morning. Then, my son got a fat cow Sunday evening with him!
Takin it to the wire!
How did the elk act in this unit compared to a normal OTC? Were they more vocal? Did thy tolerate your presence more? Did they run from the truck easier?
Glad I am still skinny enough to hide behind her when an elk comes my way!
These elk seemed to tolerate me a bit more than in a lot of otc units, but they still wouldn't put up with me sky lining, or moving across a big opening any more than any other elk.
I typically parked the truck and walked a lot.
I did notice that the elk ran from the side by sides and moved back away from the roads when there were side by sides it 4 wheelers running around as well as shutting up if they were talking at all.
They were slow to start into the rut and talk much when compared to the high country. Heard my first bugle the 17th. Heard absolutely nothing the week of the 2nd to the 9th.
You remain an inspiration for me and I continue to learn from your experiences.
Looking forward to spending some time with you and discussing our love for wild country and the critters we love!
At times like this anybody would be proud to say that they know Tavis and I'm no different. I had the pleasure of meeting Tavis a couple times in 2007 and 2010 when I drew elk tags in a unit close to where he used to live. Tavis was generous enough to help me with areas to hunt and point me toward some elk when I was struggling. He let me keep my 2010 New Mexico bull in his freezer while I hunted in Colorado and he shared his home, food and beer with me.
Tavis has an awesome collection of animals that he has killed with his longbow and his passion is hunting big mature muley bucks. He was telling me stories of some of the big bucks he has hunted and talked about glassing them from long distance across a canyon and then having to descend 1000 feet or more, cross the drainage and then climb 1000 feet or more and then stalk to within shooting range. After telling me about it I said "and then after all that you shoot them with a longbow". Tavis looked at me with a little glimmer in his eye and said "Well... you have to give them a chance". That's the kind of hunter Tavis is!
Way to go my friend!
The door is always open if you need it out this way! Congratulations again on that great NM bull!
Definitely not a turkey shoot out there, but there are some really cool mature bulls that can be found with hard work and patience. Threw pretty much everything at this one and was blessed with a truly magnificent animal.
Congrats on a stud bull and thanks much for bringing us along with you! It's a real over and above effort and we certainly appreciate it.
Have to wonder.... why such a hard unit to hunt with good but apparently not the incredible bulls that other 20 year+ units may have...... is such a hard draw???
And a resident can hunt it for about $60 worth of PPs plus the cheap license fee and still hunt OTC every year while building points, vs the cost of buying that many points plus the tag when you finally do draw in AZ or elsewhere. That is an intimidating and expensive prospect for the average CO elk hunter - the AZ/NM thing I mean. Seems like the typical resident hunter just wants a good hunt not too far away with a chance at a "really nice" bull for the wall.
But unless one has hunted or spent a lot of time in the unit during hunting season, people tend to underestimate how difficult it is and how huge the unit is, how much sprawling country exists that doesn't hold many elk.
Good luck, Robb
God bless and God blessed you. Steve