Finally got the CO OTC Elk - how the hunt went

Gerbdog

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Jun 8, 2020
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379
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CO Springs
Just unloaded the truck after dropping off meat and driving back. This will be a longer post about the hunt so the short of it is: I wanted a bull pretty bad but couldn't pass up a 3-4 year old cow that presented herself at 20 yards broadside... more on that encounter below and what went right and what went wrong.

So like many I headed to the hunting spot Tuesday, Sep 1st and got to the sleep location just before dark. When I got to the trailhead there were of course 3 horse trailers and about 8 other vehicles. Not terribly surprising but I will say this hunting season in CO has had the most people I've ever seen out and about, and i'd say only about 50% were hunters.

Day 1 - Woke up at 4 am, shoveled down some oatmeal and headed straight up the mountain in the dark eager to kick off the week. After huffing and puffing up through deadfall steep hell I got up to the first set of wallows i wanted to check (and here is the first "god damnit i messed up" moment). I set down my pack pulled out my bow (still 40 minutes til shooting hours) and a bull bugled 80 yards from me. I didn't want to call him in so I stayed silent... he bugled 20 minutes later and was farther away. I bugled back at him this time and he responded but I could tell he was headed away from me. Legal shooting hours started so I made some calling and could hear him wayyyy out there so I packed up and headed out towards him. He and I called back and forth for a bit until he shut up around 7:15 am and I never heard another peep, Not a huge loss because I discovered a hot bed of elk sign chasing him. Since its day one and I'm still fired up I hunt up and up until the wind changes and then I hunt up across the ridge of the mountain I'm on. I spot a gray fox who gets up out of its bed, sits on its hind legs, and watches me crack and snap my way through the deadfall. There is another set of wallows i want to check on the otherside of the hill, but I know there is a bedding area on that north face and its of course as nasty as you can imagine an elk deadfall bedding area to look like. I get started on it, exhausted at this point, 11 am, creeping through, and I look down and see fresh tracks and bright green shit, however, due to over eagerness and a bit of exhaustion from over exerting i don't slow down enough. Mess up number 2: i notice my reed call is tangled around my binos so I stop and fiddle with it, finish untangling it, take one step and send a bull off crashing through the timber. Bummer, pretty ticked off and tired, I make it to the wallows i wanted to check and see zero activity. I sit down and take an hour long nap after a snack. After this I head back up the mountain (here's mistake 3 for those paying attention) and come up on the first set of wallows again with .... yup, wind at my back, rookie move, something takes off from the wallows before I make it to the ridge. Set on the wallows til dark and call it a day. Damn.

Day 2 - Wake up at 4 am, blah blah blah deadfall and hell. DONT go all the way up this time and sit on the ground halfway up the slope and listen. Dead silence. Whoops probably blown out from my excursion the day before. Hunt up towards where the bull bedded down the day before calling but get nothing back. Head for the wallows for a long day of sitting. After about 4 hours at the wallows i gotta pee, it happens, I'm human, and as many who have hunted know... the animals show up when your most vulnerable.... As I'm midstream a cinnamon colored black bear rolls on into the wallow and busts my movement frantically pulling my pants up. I get properly covered and freeze, eventually he sees nothing there, climbs down into the mudhole, makes the happiest bear sound I've ever heard and lays there for 10 minutes before getting out, scratching on a tree and leaving. As has been said before on these forums... always knock and arrow and be ready when your taking a leak. Talked to two hunters that evening at camp who had two cow elk walk through while they were both taking a piss. IMG_6403.JPG

Day 3 - Wake up late, screw it, not hunting today, its mental health day and my brother is coming that evening to hunt with me. Head down to the river and do some spot and stalk fly fishing on brown trout, have success, brother arrives late late late cause he gets lost.

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Day 4 - Wake up at 4 am and talk strategy with my brother. He watched none of the videos I told him to watch, brought no calling gear, has no tag, and I'm not sure what he planned to do. He did however, have, "hey bro I got my hoochie momma, things gonna be all right, its lucky". So up the hill we go, I told him where the bugle tubes and diaphrahms are before we start. We sit down halfway up the hill and within 10 minutes here a bugle up the slope, I tell him "bugle back!" "I don't have a tube with me" "What?!" "I thought you were bringing it". So I proceed to form a tube with my hands and create the highest pitched wussy bugle you have ever heard. He responds once and never again. So we take off up after him, at this point I know where he's headed and we head straight into deadfall bedville. Once we get up there and having followed his bugles we slow to a crawl, do a bit of raking, but remain quite. I rip off a couple of high pitched wussy bugles and he doesn't give a crap even though I'm in his bed. We spend the morning creeping at a snails pace through here until the wind changes and we start hunting downhill. I remember that this bowl has a north facing slope so we start making our way slowly along that side of the bowl. Soon into this I hear a bunch of heavy steps coming up from my back left and know instantly whats happening and whisper to my brother "don't move!". Brother must think there's a mountain lion attacking cause he instantly swivels to see whats coming. A small herd being led by a cow appear almost instantly, at this point brain goes fast time goes slow, I pull an arrow from the quiver knock it, scan the herd for a bull, none. Come to a full draw, realizing this window will close soon and ill have to estimate distance, and watch the lead cow. One of my hunting mentors when I was younger told me "don't pass on day 1 what you would be happy to have on the last day" and in that moment I decided I was going to take the cow and forgo the bull this year. Yes, all of this happened in the space of about 6 seconds. Lead cow hit the gap, I let the arrow fly, one more mistake, I didn't stop her with a sound. I estimated her at 30 yards, must have only been 20 yards, I hit her high and back (remember shes still moving). Arrow sails through her like she wasn't there, herd bolts other direction, I could tell I hit her hard cause she seized up on the spot and stood for a long while behind a small grove of pine. Brother and I bump fists, he says something about the lucky hoovhie momma, and we wait for her to die. We pick up the blood trail instantly and follow for 50 yards and then the blood all goes away. Damnit. Fist bumped too early. Eventually we find her 20 yards from there in a bed all piled up. Success! after 3 years of elk hunting in Colorado I got it done.

From here its of course work work work and 2 loads out. Glad I worked on carrying a heavy pack all dang year when I walked my dog. My brother suffered greatly. Hoochie momma. Step father shows up seconds before going in for 2nd load after getting inreach message that an animal was down 5 hours earlier, drove a long way to meet us, good dude.
IMG_6409.JPG

What went right:

* Training with the bow and the pack all year long, all instinct in those last moments for me cause I still only have 2 elk under my belt, of course the pack training helped getting it all out

* The Strickland helix arrowhead , clean through the ribs, stuck in a tree, I would still shoot an elk with it, sharp.

* Bright orange fletchings, I could see my arrow downhill a long ways away

* lucky hoochie momma????????????????

* Mental health day for some fishing

* Hunting the elk everyone else walked past (way way past) to hunt other elk.


What didn't go right:

* Going too high too fast on the opening day, I wont be looking to bump bulls in the dark anymore.
* Over eager first day, made some really bad moves
* My bull calling, they just didn't give a crap what I was saying to them with my calling, raking, noise making. This is the goal this next year , I have 359 days to get it right.

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SteveCNJ

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Great hunt, great story. Congrats!!

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Phaseolus

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Feb 25, 2018
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Palisade, Colorado
Great story and congratulations, you are still on the steep part of the learning curve. It is still pretty early in the season to expect bulls to be very responsive to calling. Factor that in.
 

smbolan

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Dec 31, 2018
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31
Congrats, I go every year with the mindset, the first cow I see...


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Gerbdog

Gerbdog

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Jun 8, 2020
Messages
379
Location
CO Springs
Great story and congratulations, you are still on the steep part of the learning curve. It is still pretty early in the season to expect bulls to be very responsive to calling. Factor that in.
yea thats what I was told by the mothers husband when he showed up, figured they just weren't in the mood for all of that yet
 
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Gerbdog

Gerbdog

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Jun 8, 2020
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379
Location
CO Springs
Supposed to get darn cold here in Colorado starting Tuesday, heads up all you heading out, snow and bitter cold at night. Bulls should be talking I bet though
 

PredatorX

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Aug 16, 2015
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Man I love these stories. Enjoyed the read. Congrats!

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BigPine

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Aug 8, 2018
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Indiana
Congratulations ! Parts of that sounded way to familiar , I was grinning while I was reading, good write up
 
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