But that friendly persona all seems to change when archery elk season starts here in Colorado and I do have to admit to becoming a little anti social and a hermit of sorts. Sort of a Doctor Jeckyl and Mr. Hide scenario from my usual demeanor. A solo hunter might be a better discription.
I do not know if it was the current moon phase (a full moon on the opener) or how the stars were lining up but this strange behavior seemed to have over taken me. I do not remember drinking any liquid from a glass slipper or from a steaming cauldron brewed by a witch.
No mushrooms and yes I know, marijuana is legal in Colorado. "cool man, real cool".
I looked up on Google so see if there was any prescription I could take as a remedy for this terrible infliction, but found none.
I was doomed for sure and the only cure---- I just needed to go archery elk hunting, solo style.
I had been hunting the same units most often for 15 years, but the success rate was down to 3% with a 1050 bow hunters stating they hunted the two units last year.
I decided to move and hunt a different place, a place farther west with more elk and yes, less hunters.
Sounds like heaven, but true.
One area stood out and that would be my primary focus so three days prior, I headed over with my pop camper, as a base camp, but I would be solo hunting, with tarps and tent.
I could only hope I had good eyes, sharp talons, speed, quite wings and a steady aim.
I started at 9100 ft and would be hunting around 10,200.
I thought, "Paul, what the hell are you doing? Solo hunting, and climbing the mountain alone at the age of 75".
I had a flash back to when I was a senior in high school and playing football. Coach Green was riding the blocking sled and yelling at us linemen. " Ok girls, the cheerleaders can hit this sled harder, drive harder!"
I pushed on, one heavy step at a time thinking what Coach Green would thinks about this "game" and preparing for it.
Interesting how the human mind thinks and reacts.
And I remembered a saying, " one only goes once around in life, so grab up all of the gusto you can".
Gusto?. I needed more breathable air at the moment but I pushed on and up.
The surrounding enviroment changed from thick aspen to more open meadows and suppounded by mature fir trees, standing and down. Remember, this is a Wilderness Area, but cattle grazing is allowed.
I sat down to rest around 11 am and think about my options.
I don't care what Coach Green says about you. At seventy five you're doing a hunt in a fashion that overwhelms most lesser cheerleaders.
Have a great hunt. Be safe. Enjoy every minute.
I'll certainly be following this thread closely.
Keep the story going!
Thanks for taking us along but WHAT HAPPENED?!?
I hope Paul didnt have the "Big One!!' :)
They did not notice me until I said, "Hey", which really supprised them as they did not expect to see anyone else.
Bob and then Drew came over and we all introduce ourselves.
Bob said, "I know you from Bowsite and your name is Paul". "When I saw your truck down below, I though it might be you but this area is large and the chance of meeting was slim."
They joined me in the trees and we spoke of the area for the next half hour and since they had hunted the area before and assured me we were in the center of the action. I was impressed by their willingness to help and comfirm the area and to share info they had learned over the years.
I state, I felt I was intruding on their hunting area, but Bob stated, they were glad to share with me.
This was truely a great sign of sportsmenship and bonding of bowhunters.
I was reminded of an encounter I had with a well known traditional bow hunter in southern Arizona while I was WT deer hunting last January, 100s of miles from our homes, miles from a remote town, one mile off the trail on a hill side, and within 5 miles of the Mexican border. He had given a presentation at the Colorado Traditional Bow Hunter Society Banquet a few years before.
He stated "good men are attracted to and meet in great and beautiful places".
John Volker, writer of men and fish, wrote, " Trout do not live in ugly places".
I had just met two good men and yes, like trout, elk also live in beautiful places".
PS, Bob, send me a PM when you get a chance.
I told them I would be moving my spike camp into the area in the next few days and after they left I continued to scout and explore.
Bob, told me of a near by wallow so I would check it out in late afternoon when the sun was lower and the cooler wind currents were draining down.
I am heading out for my last weekend as I type. Just have to finish up one last report for work.
I love that little lily pad lake!
At 6:30, 6:45 I gave out a few cow and calf calls to let any elk know there were a few friendy elk around.
The area outside of the one acre opening became darker as the setting sun dropped behind me and the trees.
I looked harded for movement, and then at 7 pm, there was movement in the timber, and heading my way from above the clearing.
I saw antlers!
I had time to take a few pictures and then confirm the range at 40 yards exact.
A first day elk, and a bull at that. How luckly was that?
I heard the wack------ BUT..........
I wonder how many elk watched you set up the camera for the self portraits?
This is a fun trip.
My first thought was I shot though the elk's body, and then the arrow granced off of some hard surface behind the elk.
Of cource, the bull did not stay around and charged back the way he had come. Still thinking I had just killed him, I waited for the crash as his body hit the ground just out of sight.
That crashing sound never came.
An hour later it was dark and I started my trip back to my first spike camp still wondering what might have happened. That took over an hour for the return trip.
I did not sleep well that night and vowed I would return and double check a hit or not and try to figure why or why not.
At first light I was gathered up and heading back to the shot area with my spike camp on my back. I would set up a new spike camp, if I cound not find a dead bull.
Three hours later, and around noon, there was no indication of a hit, but where did the arrow go?
I examined the fallen tree that the bull was behind and now believe, I shot low and/or the arrow hit one of the two small limbs sticking up that were not evident to me at the time of the shot.
I guess the good news was I did not wound the bull and also there was still 29 days to hunt.
More excitment to come so this is just the beginning.
My best, Paul
PS, Today is my 33rd wedding anniversity (second time) so this evening Tricia and I will celebrate with dinner, love and effection. One has to take care of a woman that allowes me to hunt as much as I do. Mutual respect for each other for sure.
....the rest of the story.
You got the lady right but not the date!
No disrespect intended, but these two sentences are fascinating:
"Today is my 33rd wedding anniversity (second time) so this evening Tricia and I will celebrate with dinner, love and effection."
I am hoping that you meant anniversary and affection, but the other words are more interesting.
I think that 'anniversity' is a cross between anniversary and adversity - which is a good description for the reality of surviving 33 years with someone. There are good times and struggles - both of which combine to enrich the whole.
'Effection' is a little trickier - I found a couple of definitions for this word that might fit:
"producing a deep or vivid impression; striking"
"adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result"
and most likely
"prepared and available for service, especially military service"
As you can tell, I get a little distracted waiting for 'the rest of the story'...
Following closely.... this is gonna be good....
Good luck, Robb
I echo what many others have said above. You certainly seem to be one heck of a role model for many here, from young to old!
Hope the "anniversity" was free of adversity...and that the love and "effection" had a better "end of the trail than did your wayward shot on that tasty looking bull......
Thanks for sharing. You have my vote.
I hope I am still chasing Elk in the mountains at 75. Congrats on the 33 years !!
33 years ago I lived in Ohio and was not elk hunting then, only Oct-Nov WT hunting so one can see there was no conflict with getting married in September. Enjoyed the jabs but lets get going so I can tell, --ie, As Paul Harvey stated, "Now you know the rest of the story".
I surely appreciate the good comments so far and I will continue to try to string you along, as long a possible.
My best, Paul
The camp consisted of two water proof 32 oz 10x12 tarps, one for a tent and one for a outside rain shelter, also for storing equipment.
The grove of mature Fir trees gave me good shelter from the sun and wind. I positioned this camp 1/4 mile down wind and back in the timber in a clearing, from the action so not to alert the elk of my presence.
Wonder what those critters "thought" about the moon?
Later in the evening, I heard two elk banging their antlers together from across the ridge. After that a few light bugles.
I just knew there I would be the next morning.
As I came close to the meadow I detected a ghostly form some 30 yards ahead with head down and feeding.
It turned out to be spike bull elk but not legal to shoot in this area. I waited for it to move on and then advanced to the meadow.
There was no chance of getting closer as the cool currents of the morning were drifting down to them so I needed to stay on my side of the hill crest so not to be detected.
Larry Jones, a very well know Oregon bow hunters wrote an article in Bow Hunter Magazine a few year back titled, Stop, Look and Listen. ( and I might add, Learn).
This was now time to follow his advice.
A morning hunt was out of the question as I had to inter the meadow from the top with the wind at my back sending my human scent into the meadow.
I positioned the blind across the meadow to where I had seen the two bulls inter the timber and also where the meadow narrow down at this spot. Seemed like a good spot to try.
A simple blind made up of local logs, trees, and branches and I was backed up into the shade.
The wait was on.
I was hoping the winds would calm.
What happened with the first bull? Did your arrow hit a limb? I must have missed the punch line....
A few minutes later, I hear what sounds like the worst elk caller I have every heard coming down the opposite ridge as every 15 seconds he was blowing a short elk scream. This went on and off for the next 30 minutes as the sounds came closer but still across the meadow and into the deep timber. Since I had not been over there, I had no idea what the conditions might be.
But wait, now I am hearing some good bull growls and grunts. This just mighty be the real deal.
Should I scramble over there or wait to see if he comes into the meadow. I chose to wait but he never came in sight.
I headed over there in the morning, heard him, gave out one small bugle and cow call, and he was gone in a flash.
Another day gone by.
Their tempo changes, their patterns change.
This is when we hunters need to change our patterns so we do not blow the elk out of the area.
I would give it one more day before I headed down to my base base camp along the road, for a two day break to refresh.
1/4 mile from camp and as I rounded and then passed by this side meadow, guess who was stand there?
This was the same, "good eater" bull I had missed the first evening but not 40 yards away like before, but 150 yards.
The rest of the evening was quite with no action so I will be heading down to base came in the morning but will return for more action.
And yes, more action to come.
My best, Paul
Thanks for taking us along! C
So back up the mountain, but refreshed and with high hopes.
I will just deal with the elk I have.
I hunted the seeps that afternoon as it has been warm and took the chance and arrive early.
I had not been there 15 minutes when this cow and very young calf came down the trail, jumped the log and walked to the wallow. The cow stood 30 yards away watching the calf frolic in the water.
A few bugles at night.
Still warm but just the start of the rut. Should start to heat up in the elk world.
I had been hearing elk bugles during the night but the bulls were back in their beds at first light and I dare not bust them out yet.
The nights were becoming cooler so I will bring up my mt tent for more comfort.
ML rife season had started but I had only heard one shot and had not seen any ML hunters.
Good protection from rain and snow.
I split the freese dried foods into two meals.
Did not use instant oatmeal this time for breakfast but usually do.
The Jetstove to boil water worked great as usual.
My jerky is duck, Kansas WT and pronghorn meat.
Hot apple cider was refreshing on cold mornings.
Plus a SOS if you really get in trouble and need help.
No action or any sounds so at 7 pm I did a few cow and calf calls.
HERE IS WHERE THINGS BECOME TENSE and exciting.
At 7:15 and 15 yards in the dark twisted timber behind me I hear a hoof scrape against a downed dried out log and then what sounded like an antler hitting a branch.
Within two seconds there was a 5x5 bull standing 30 feet away and looking out over the one acre meadow. My bow remained on my grounded backpack just a foot away but I was unable to reach for it as the bull was partly facing me.
Between the bull and me was a 3 ft in dia dead log that went from him to me. I was kneeling by one end in my make shift blind and in the shadows, down wind, and he was standing on the other side of the log, and at the other end 30 ft away.
I was looking at him under the bill of my hat and wishing him to cross the log and enter the meadow allowing me a close range shot.
But instead of crossing the log, he placed his nose on the log as if smelling something. What he was smelling was my scent as I had crossed this same log to collect pine branches for the blind.
He turned towards me, with his nose just inches off the log , and moved closer with his head down. Each step brought him closer and closer until he was only 8 ft away. Yes, 8 ft away and just over the log.
There in front of me, I could see his head and lower body, his 9 in brow ties on his antlers.
He paused for a few seconds, turned to his left and vanished into the dark timber.
All I could think was, Holy shi$$$$, did that just really happen.
Well that is bow hunting at it's finest for sure.
Well guess who shows up?
As an aside, that cider is great on a cool night. And a splash of some dark Lamb's Navy Rum from Canada makes it a real treat.
Well things are starting to heat up.
I head up the hill to an upper meadow and set up a bull chasing cow, bull bugling and cow loudly calling with loud squealing, scenario.
I hope to call in the second bull from the night before.
I call and rake a tree, set up in the shadows. I give any bull time as the surrounding timber is thick.
Twenty minutes into the calling, I hear a bull bugle ones, and heading my way. He sould like he will be below me so I drop back 50 yards. Mistake. He shows up just up from there i was calling from. I never see him but we call back and forth. He leaves.
I will return to the seep in mid afternoon and sit there till dark.
The seep is very quite except for this pine martin tring to find dinner.
I heard a bull grunt in the timber 200 yards away but he seems to be heading to the upper meadow. I sweet cow call but he continues on, still grunting. I know where he is going.
Quickly I gathered up, and headed down the creek to circle around and come in the botton of the meadow where I had a good observation/blind. I look hard but saw nothing.
Ok, now what. 20 more minutes of legal light. I cow and calf called and threw in a few small bull bugles.
Tried again. Wait, movement in the timber? A large mature cow elk just 50 yards away had just stepped out and was looking my way. 15 more minutes of legal light. I calf called and she approach but was heading to my right and into some thick stuff. I looked for a shot opportunity at 25 yards. She was behind a tree and then I heard her move off but back to the previous position. I calf called again and this time she would pass at 40 yards out front.
She moved forward. 9 more minutes of shoot light.
I drew back. 7 more minutes of shoot light.
I tried to focus as she was now broadside. 6 more minutes of shooting light.
The arrow was on its way, with just 5 more minutes of shoot light.
I hear the solid hit!
It became dark but the amount of blood showed up under my head lamp like a beacon to follow. I continued to follow along until I saw my light reflecting off of dead elk at the end of the blood trail, 200 yards into the very dark timber.
Love the story and the excellent recap, congrats on the great cow for the freezer!
Dead cow elk down and out.
As I admired this fine wild animal that I had just ended it's life, I knelt next to her, placing my hand on her still warm hide and I thanked her for her contribution to my hunt and for giving up her life to nourish mine. Surely a humbling experience.
OK, now what? A few options went through my mind.
Just leave her to the morning and then process her. NO, the coyotes with find and eat her and I might lost 50% of the meat.
Gut her out, prop here up off the ground, and then leave her until the morning and then process her out in the light of day. NO, the gut smell will surely bring the coyotes, and then lose all of the meat. Maybe a bear may show up.
Hike back to camp a 1/4 mile away, retrieve meat bags and rope, make sure I have extra batteries and knife sharperner, have something to drink and eat and then return and process her. YES!
Returnd to elk and started the process. Cut back and removed hide on one side, and removed front shoulder and rear quarter, back strap and neck meat.. Left bone in as I did not want to trying to remove meat from bone in the dark with only a head lamp. Too easy for a sharp knife to slip.
10pm: Turned over elk and processed the other side as before along with both tenderloins.
11pm. Removed ribs from both sides and placed all meat on a nearby log to cool.
11;30pm: bagged up all meat. six total including ribs.
12am. Five trips out to the meadow 200 yards away to carry bagged meat to meadow.
1 am: Completed packing meat
1:15 am: cut down 5 inch tree and removed all limbs and then strung the 15 ft log between two trees to hang meat.
2 am. Finished hanging meat off ground
2:30 am. Resting
3 am: heading back to camp, tired for sure.
3:30 am, back at camp.
4 am, finished any food I could cram into my mouth.
Drank some hot cider..
4: 45am, notified wife that I had a animal down via, the SPOT Messenger.
5 am. Thought about taking a nap and then head down the mountain later in the morning to contact packer
5:15 am: Changed mind about waiting. Packed up every thing except tent and tarps and headed down with a heavy backpack.
6:45 am, arrived at road and trailhead
7:30 am. called wife with cell phone higher on the mountain with coverage, and let her know I was out.
8 am, called friend and he said yes, would be there to help with his three mules.
8;30.am, back a popup camper. boiled water for a pan shower and fresh cloths.
11am. met friend at trail head with mules. We would ride up on two and lead one.
12pm, left trailhead
1:15pm: stopped at camp and picked up tent and tarps.
1: 40pm. arrived at hanging meat and packed on two of the mules
2pm: headed down. I hiked down so I could take some more pictures but I also know from experience that riding down is a lot harder on the body and legs than riding up.
3:30 pm: arrived back at trailhead.
4pm: all meat in the cooler and then overnight in plastic bag next to a nearby stream to keep them cool.
5 Pm: Back at the pop up for a good meal and sleep. I would be heading home in the morning with my prize. A trophy for sure!
Interesting day for sure in the elk woods. My eleventh elk with the bow.
Next Season will make an even dozen for you!
Best Wishes, Jeff
Thanks for following along on my solo journey.
Lots of down time in camp so bring along a few paper- backs to read.
Also I tore up my topo map into strips to use as white trail markers coming out and back in, in the dark to the downed elk. The red tape does not show up with the head light. My GPS unit only got me within 73 ft of the elk because of the tree coverage and only two satellates. In the dark, at 73 ft, it would have been hard to find the elk and then the trail back to the meadow's edge. A small roll of toilet paper would serve that purpose.
I surely enjoy the solitude of a solo hunt with days of seeing no one. Just the wind in the trees, a thunderstorm, squirrels in the trees, and of course, th bugle of an elk.
My best, Paul
Your friend has some very nice looking mules.
Thanks much for a GREAT story and sharing it with us.
I think I've said it a dozen times but it's true, I wanna be like you when I grow up.... I keep thinking I'm gaining ground but I'm just as far behind as I ever was. Closing hard on 40 years married though..... =D
You're right about the flagging tape at night. I found some cool cord I carry now instead of para cord. It's made for guy lines for tents and stuff, has reflective material woven in it so it stands out when you shine a light on it. I've used it to mark trails and such to use in the dark and it works great. I still carry flagging tape but also have that cord in my pack now too. And when I get up at night and wander around I don't clothesline myself on the clothesline anymore....
That's awesome! Congrats and thanks for sharing the story and photos. You're inspirational to be able to do this at 75 years young. You're the man!
Great photos and story, Paul. Thanks for letting us tag along.
I envy the time and patience you put in to your hunts.
Congrats on 33 years of marriage and the hunt.
Congrats on your elk.
In all seriousness Paul you are an inspiration and a hell of a hunter and outdoorsman. We were more than happy meeting you and look forward to keeping in touch. I've read your stories and advice for years. If anyone was sitting near my trail cam at that seep, I'm lucky and glad it was you. We appreciate you offering to not mess us up and it's proof of your character. We wouldn't have it any other way to offer you some insight and share our food/stories with a fellow bowhunter, bowsiter and CBA member.
I have to say your determination, perseverance and woodsmanship skills are to be admired from a person of any age, let alone in your mid 70's. You are an inspiration to many. I have no doubt you would have filled your tag had you not met us, but we were honored to help out.
Our family also really enjoyed you stopping by camp as well. We were rooting for you and are so happy you broke your streak and got your 11th elk! You have our utmost respect as a person and hunter and it was an honor. Proud to be apart of your story and look forward to our next meet up.
With deer season ahead of you, I'd say your freezer will be full for a while!
(Plus you started a new Becoming a Bowhunter program in your area)
Congrats on your success, Yes sir, that's a trophy in my book.
Oh and good on you to bring the SPOT along with you too. it's got to make the ones at home feel a little more at ease.
The best option I have found is I use a fanny pack, but turned around to the front. (see picture)
It is aways handy for quick removal.
Thanks for the kind comments as it was fun bringing the hunt to you especially to you guys that may never hunt elk but maybe this type of story will urge you on to take the big step.
I do have a light weight tripod but did not use it on this trip just to keep all weight down some. I wish I had had it as many times I had to "prop up" the camera on a rock, log, or my pack.
Elk back straps are on the grill, got to go.
My best, Paul
Thank you for bring all of us along!!
Congrats and thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the great photo essay. Talk son.
Yea, I was luckly Dary was available. What a good friend indeed. A leaf in the wind? you bet!
My luckly day both ways.
I forgot to tell about the bull I had heard before I killed this cow. As I was blood trailing the cow for the last few yards and in the dark, this bull was bugeling his head off just 200 yards away in the meadow where I had hit the cow.
Thank you for sharing such an awesome and inspirational story. Congrats on one outstanding hunt.
I really hope when I am 75 I am doing the same.