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My First Colorado Elk Hunt
After months of training and anticipation, my Colorado Elk Hunt was finally here. I would be hunting with Forest and Flat Top Outfitters for 5 days. To say I was excited is an understatement, the woods of CO were not ready for a guy from the beach in So Cal. I met up with Kevin, from Illinois at the hotel on Sat and got a chance to get to know each other a bit. We met up at the trail head where I was introduced to Charlie, the 3rd hunter in our group. These 2 guys have killed lots of critters so I am a little intimidated by there successes, but I got over it, I think.
Horses, gear and hunters head up the mountain.
Through the woods and into camp.
Camp in site, so far the hunt preparation and journey has been more than I hoped for. Everybody on this hunt was absolutely amazing and worked there butts off.
A little R&R after a lot of work.
We actually got a hunt in Sunday evening and ran into a big herd of elk. It is big country, some open burn, some really dark timber, and somehow a 700 lb animal can just disappear without a sound. I can see why so many of you are addicted to elk hunting and its my first day.
Nothing but the necessities. Outfitter left nothing to chance.
I will finish my tale from the dark side tomorrow.
Thanks looking forward to this!
Good times and good people, ya can't go wrong
Thanks for taking us along,
I hadn't really planned for this hunt but when I saw "Hunt Cancellation" ad on this site I decided it was now or never. I had never been on a hunt like this and this would be my retirement gift to myself. I'd been riding a bicycle 10 miles a day most of the summer but had less than a month to up my exercise regiment. I started swimming and walking up & down this hills near my house. I might add that two year's ago at this time I was in a wheel chair recovering from a broken back & broken leg, but that's a story for another day. When I was getting the details from Forest about the hunt and explaining my own situation, I asked him where this other hunter was from? "California, but we won't hold it against him until we meet him", was his answer. I liked this guy. I decided to leave a day early in hopes of getting adjusted to the change in altitude. I got to my motel in Glennwood Springs which is in the vicinity of 5,000 feet above sea level and took a brisk 30 minute walk uphill. It was hot but sweat would evaporate as quick as it formed. "This wasn't too bad", I thought as I started back down. The next morning I hiked an hour up hill. Again, it was a piece of cake. I met Dave for lunch and decided that for a guy from California he wasn't too bad, haha. After listening to what hunting is like in California, I was truly thankful for living in the mid-west! I found a local archery range & shot my bow. I noticed that I seemed to have flatter trajectory in the thinner air. Dave & I met bright & early the next morning and headed to the location where we met Forest & his wonderful wife, Kelly. To my surprise, a 3rd hunter, Charlie, was in the truck. A true gentlemen if there ever was one. After introductions, we loaded up to get out gear to the pack horses. We piled back into the the vehicle while the pack string headed up the mountain. As we climbed I was thinking that I wish I had some chewing gum. I also made the mistake of sitting on the left side of the vehicle. When I looked down, "oh crap"! It was a loooong way down to the bottom. We finally parked & started the hike to intercept the horses. This is where I learned the difference between 5,000 & 9,000 feet. I was sucking air so bad, I was thinking what have I gotten myself into?! "Drink water & stop to recover", was the advice I was given. So I did. In my mind, I'd recover fairly quickly and press on. There's just no getting ready for the altitude change but by day 3, I think I was doing OK. That's my story & I'm sticking to it. We met up with the horses and rode the rest of the way into camp. We were greeted with spacious wall tents and nice cots. As many of you know, it's been hot & dry in the west this summer and this is what our conditions were the first couple of days. I headed to a water tank with my guide, Ben for the evening vigil. Forest & Dave headed in another direction and Charlie decided to explore another part of the area. A doe mule deer & fawn came within range of the tank but no elk were seen. My only shot opportunity came the next evening when an adult cow came to a small spring. I'd decided to take the first legal elk if given the opportunity. Remember me mentioning something about having flatter arrow trajectory earlier? I was too high & blew it! The next day the weather did a 180. Snow started falling and the bottom fell out of the thermometer. Good equipment is a necessity, especially in a sleeping bad & I was comfortable in mine. We were greeted with around 8" of snow the next day. Another essential piece of equipment is a good pair of gators and thankfully my son gave me a pair last Christmas. I threw them into my duffel bag on a whim. Boy am I glad I did. The weather change seemed to affect the bugling and movement but each morning we were up by 5, have a quick breakfast, and head out. I was walking around 7 or 8 miles per day. My longest day was Thursday when I did at least 12 miles. The other guys were averaging over 10 or more. You're either going uphill or downhill, then reversing the drill to get back. After a hearty supper and some visiting, we'd crawl into bed and repeat the process the next day. On my final day of hunting, my guide had a bull bugling at 200 yards or so, but he had other things on his mind and decided to head down into a canyon. Even though no elk were taken, I had a great time & I think everyone else did too. New friendships were formed that will last. The guides, Forest & Ben, busted their butts to try to get us into elk. The camp wrangler/cook, Colton, had a warm supper ready for us when we came in each evening. When I left, I was exhausted and thought, "I ain't doing that again"! By the time I hit the Colorado - Nebraska line heading east, I was ready to go back! Even though I have no other experience with a guided elk hunt, I would not hesitate going with Forest at Shaded Timber Outfitters again. It was great!
We had about a day and a half of nice weather. We got a chance to get out and call some elk. This is a pic of the infamous Forest, he's laughing out loud at one of my California jokes, in his way :).. This is a time when some bulls are bugling but when they come in, they sneak up on you without a peep. I learned rather quickly that you needed to always be ready, even when eating or resting, because somebody is always sneakin up on you in the elk woods.
So I believe it was Monday night it started snowing and snowing and snowing. So much for our 80 degree weather. Seems it shut down the bugling a bit. We continued to hunt no matter the weather. Being my first guided hunt, I realized that a guy like Forest has a passion for being in the woods, calling or hunting elk and willing to share that with people like me that he didn't even know a few days earlier. I did pay him to take me hunting, but I will spend that money on a hunt like this every chance I get, with my wifes consent of course.
Not sure why some pics are sideways, sorry about that.
Sounds like you had a great time and experience meeting some great Bowsiters to boot. I think this elk thing is in our blood now !!
Thanks for the hunt report.
I hunted through that freak snowstorm as well. It made quite the mess of our hunts, but those ranchers out there sure needed it badly.
This is on Wednesday or Thursday when the snow slowed down and the fog rolled in. It was cold. There were elk buglin but they seemed to sittin tight. It is hard stay still when your guide is calling and you are standing there freezing your &^%$ off. But you cant be a sissy, especially around this bunch. I would like to mention the guys in this pic, Colton our wrangler, true cowboy and horse whisperer. Then theres Ben who was Kevin's guide and forever buds, ex-bush pilot from Alaska and one hell u va guy. Then theres Charlie, the only guy older than me that showed me I have a lot of work to do to keep up with him. He was a kind and very funny man, and also taught me a lot because he had the patients to answer every (many, many) question I had about hunting and life in general. Hats off to ya Charlie. Then theres that guy from Illinois, the whitetail hunter who appears to have a hard time climbing trees :).. God bless him after all that he is up in the Colorado Rockies huntin Elk. He is one strong, tough sumbitch and I hope one day to share elk camp with again. Last but not least theres my guide Forest. Along with his amazing wife Kelly they made me feel like one there bowhunters. Part of a clan if you will. I had no expectations of this hunt, only excitement and enthusiasm. Talking to Forest before the hunt he said be in shape. I think I did that. I made some mistakes during our hunt that cost me shots on a massive bull with white spears for antlers that scared me to look at. I was behind a tree instead of in front of the tree. Bad position, my bad, what a massive animal. I feel I had let him down. He was not happy. Again another snuck up on us and my bow was sitting beside me with no arrow nocked. I slowly reached for it, boom, he was gone as quick and silent as he came. You have to be ready. And then, the last day, get ready a bull is bugling, I pick a spot on small cliff with the best vantage possible. I range 2 trees, 30 yds, 40 yds, pocket my range finder and I see antlers. My heart was going crazy. I drew my bow, stay calm, pick a spot. The bull turned early, sun in his eyes, I mewed one time he stopped. I put my 40 yd pin on the spot and pressed my thumb down, arrow away. I watch my red nockturnal nock disappear and the bull bolts and runs. I think I made a good shot. But I play it back in my mind and there is doubt. I range the tree he was at and he was at 50 yds. My shot went low. The feeling of guilt and heartbreak sets in. I have never wounded and animal with my bow. We found the elk bedded down and decided to leave him for the next morning. When we returned, no elk, no blood, no trail, heartbreak. We grid searched and never found him. He survived a non-lethal shot and I believe that. But man that hurts. I make that shot a thousand times, but not if don't range it right. Lifes lessons sometimes kick you right where it hurts. But even after that, Forest was the professional guide and hunter, knowing how I felt we ended our hunt. I hope to hunt with Forest again, if he'll have me, because he made the trip of a lifetime the most amazing trip of my lifetime. Thank You Forest.
Forest and Charlie. I was one lucky guy to share the woods with these 2. If you guys ever come to Californis for a gay rally, give me a call :)
Headin back to camp. Bittersweet
Headed down the mountain.
I would just like to say that people on bowsite are pretty amazing. Most of you have taught me how to prepare and hunt out of state in places like Colorado, Utah and AZ. Last year I hunted with a bowsiter from Utah in AZ and it was awesome. I hope I can contribute back as much as all of you have done for me. Thank You
I had a really fun time with both you guys. Dave and Kevin kept going every day and we really gave it a go.
The drought this year was extreme. EVERY tank we found was empty which meant many elk were elsewhere.
I say it every year, NOTHING is easy about elk hunting. Maybe that’s why it grows on me every year.
Sounds like a great time! I love elk hunting, I gotta go back next September. Looking forward to hunting some Oklahoma whitetails with Charlie and Forest this fall!
Snow, mountains and stream. Beautiful
Sounds like you guys had a great trip, especially with the dry conditions and weather. Forrest's hunts got my attention when he posted them and I even sent the link to a couple guys. Thanks for posting a recap!
Great recap! Sounds like a fabulous experience all around! Yet another hunt of a lifetime! Great bunch to be out on the woods with for sure!
Congratulations to all!
Great read. Glad all had a great hunt!!
Nice write-up Empty. Appreciate the kind words about AZ last year too. Looking forward to doing it again this year.
Doesn’t sound like you had an unsuccessful trip, to me! Great write up, Empty!
Thanks guys. It was a roller coaster ride for sure.
Thanks for the story and pics Dave! Looks and sounds like Forest has a high quality operation going on there. Thumbs up!
Nice story Empty. You are now Full!
Dave: I forgot to tell you. I stuck a few empty candy wrappers under the foam in your bow case. The trash bag was 6 steps away & your bow case was only 4. I needed to conserve my strength and it seemed like the thing to do at the time.
Great story and on the plus side at least you don’t hafta change your handle ;)~
Freezer’s still empty but sounds like the experience bank is full. Thanks for sharing the trip. Sounds like fun!
U funny guy kevo, now ill have something to remember u by??
Sounds like a great hunting trip to me. Thanks for sharing with us. Amazing the people you can meet through Bowsite.
Thanks for the recap...sounds like a great time with great guys in the elk woods!
Dave did great and was in great shape. Real fun hunt