We left Wednesday AM before breakfast, ate a steak at the Big Texan the day before the "Cowboy" burned. We had time to set up our base camp Thursday evening before dark. Friday would be spent scouting.
My Elk season opened Saturday AM, and we were immediately looking at two elk cows when it got first light. An hour later I passed up a 75 yard shot at a 4X4 bull. Later that morning we saw a spike and about 6 cows.
We hunted in a completely different spot the second day. That afternoon we saw a very nice 5X5 bull. He went into an Aspen draw with his cows so we closed the distance to about 300 yards and set up. Surely they would feed back out into the opening later that day. They did, but he quickly walked through thick Oak Brush at over 400 yards and did not really become clearly visible until over 500 yards. I am comfortable shooting at 400 but not 500 yards.
My legs were not able to completely recover between one day's climb and the next day's beginning. We were always in the sleeping bag before 9:00 PM and up at 4:00 AM, but it just did not seem like enough. We always ate plenty of good food at night and carried various trail bars, etc., but I still lost over 5 lbs. My toes took a beating. I had failed to realize that my toenails were too long.
Because of this, a decision was made to drive the truck 12 miles around to the bottom of the mountain and ride the 4 wheeler back around to the starting point. We could then hunt the 4˝ miles through without having to make the return trip in the dark.
The last day that I hunted began with the threat of a weather front coming in as the red sky morning indicated. By noon, the winds were gusting heavily, and by mid- afternoon, trees and tree limbs were falling around us. Some quite close, even too close. The GPS told us that a trail was nearby, so we made our way to it and began our descent and were really thinking about the next day's hunt.
As I looked to my right I saw a cow elk's head about 65 yards away, sticking up above the grass and fallen trees. We immediately started closely examining the area and soon found other elk bedded down. Two spikes, a large bull with very broken antlers. All of his tops were gone leaving only the brow and bez tines. Then we saw him, a good bull with 5 nice points on one side. The royal had failed to split on the other side making him a 4X5, but good. I decided to shoot, but that was not possible with him lying down. He was just beyond a log, plus an animal's vitals are hard to reach when bedded. I would have to be patient and wait for him to stand and wait I did. I looked at my watch...4:00. I eased over to a larger 14" Aspen, planted my shooting stick, not knowing that at 5:30, I would still be standing there. He stretched his neck out and laid his head on the ground for a while, then twisted it around and rested it across his body for a while. My feet and legs were numb for sure. Marty was behind me continually scanning everything and also looking at the area that was hidden from me beyond the Aspen that I was standing behind.
"Move your rifle to the other side of the tree and shoot". Marty's voice was commanding, and because of our relationship together, I completely understood and trusted its meaning. I moved my rifle from the right to the left side of the Aspen, but could see nothing but cows because the newly arrived bull was behind a tree. When he stepped out I was ready. He was quartering toward me, so I slipped a Nosler Accubond in just to the rear part of the near shoulder which traveled completely through him and lodged under the skin on the off side. His legs stiffened and he turned and started walking away. I quickly moved the rifle to the right side of the Aspen and fired a "going away" quartering shot. This bullet lodged under the skin on the opposite side. The 6X6 bull simply toppled over. The time elapse had been less than 5 seconds and the shots were less than 60 yards. We walked to the bull and a firm handshake and hugs were in order. Together we had done it. This quest had begun 17 years ago when I first applied for this limited area elk license. This area encompasses approximately 1100 sq. miles or approximately 7.5 million acres. Only 200 licenses are issued with 34 going to Colorado nonresidents.
Picture taking was first while we still had light, after which a gentle snow began to fall. While this was certainly not the largest bull in the area or even the largest that we saw, he was plenty large enough for this ole Redneck country boy. Now the real work begins.
We used the "gutless" method where we proceeded to skin out the top side, remove the quarters, loin, and tender before rolling him over and doing the same on the other side. Limbs were laid across a couple of logs forming a shelf so that the air could circulate. The meat was then liberally dosed with black pepper to prevent bear, coyote, and other predator damage.
The head, antlers, and cape which weighed 65 pounds were carried out. The kill site was a bit over 2 miles from the truck.
Elk are the only hoofed animals that have canine (eye) teeth. As they age, these "ivories" wear and produce a beautiful wear pattern. I have worn an elk ivory pendant around my neck for years, but it will be replaced with one of these for sure.
My sincere thanks go to my wife, Pat for allowing me to have this time off, to Marty's wife and family for sharing him with me, to Marty just for being the Son that he is, and to Wood-Mizer for providing the income means that allows me to enjoy this special time. Thanks also to anyone that may take the time to read these ramblings.
Nice. Tell everybody about the air. When you talk about walking two miles, with the air, its a long walk. Its hard for rednecks to breath in Colo. We have five guys that go every year. Two years ago we lost one guy and almost lost another one. After along hospital stay, he finally had to retire this year.
Sounds like you had a really nice time. Loved the article you wrote. That last picture with you carrying the head/cape/antlers to the taxidermist yesterday I had to take a double look. Still hadn't figured out where your head is.
That was packing the head/cape off of the mountain. The elk head is above the head that is headed toward the direction opposite from the way that the elk is headed, but both heads are headed toward the truck which is downhill and toward the direction that the feet are headed.
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