First elk hunt and success (long post)

workethic

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2019
Messages
53
I’m a bit late on putting this up here as this hunt happened during Colorado’s muzzleloader season. I’ll start out by saying I research A LOT. I don’t watch much tv, instead I review maps, draw odds, prospective hunts and anything else that will help me be successful. This is by no means my first western hunt or hunt in the mountains or even my first trip to Colorado hunting. I’m an accomplished backpacker, but have only done a couple backpacking trips into the mountains.

My brother and a couple of his friends wanted to do an elk hunt, so they talked me into this hunt. I’ve actually never been that interested in elk hunting. I love mule deer and bear hunting. I suggested an area based off of information I gathered. The area I suggested was some pretty rough terrain, but that plays into my equation for success. When they all agreed I began to really dive into the research. Spending hours going over maps. I had plan A-z covered by the time the trip came. I will tell anyone that is planning to elk hunt in Colorado to pick a unit and go. Don’t spend too much time listening to people say the terrain is too tough or that the numbers are down. That just tells me I need to train harder and escout/plan better. Limitations are created by others, expand your limitations to leave the others behind.

We arrived opening weekend of muzzleloader season and I had zero plans of shooting an elk the first few days. We packed in about 2 miles from the trailhead. For a Minnesota boy gaining 1,500 ft of elevation in 2 miles starting at 10,500 ft I did pretty well as did the other guys because we prepared our bodies physically. We saw other hunters on the way in as well as all weekend. Things toned down by Monday. After analyzing where other hunters had been I found I was right on where the elk would be less pressured. By Tuesday I was on elk. I found a rub and I could smell the wallow all over it and knew it was really fresh. I let out a blind mew which must have pulled the elk out of his bed with his cows. He couldn’t decided to come toward me or stay with his cows and paced back and forth between us. I guessed this at the time because I couldn’t see him, I could only hear him. He was roughly 70-90 yards away. I moved slowly closer. I had been shying away from bugling as I am not very accomplished at it and I was worried he would just gather up his cows and trot off to avoid the fight. I did bugle when he stopped pacing toward me as he must have made up his mind to stay with his cows. Seconds after I bugled he did what I feared. He tried to gather up his cows and move away. The bugle I made was one of my best and I had confidence it didn’t spook him. His mistake was that he didn’t go directly away from me and instead went up the hill roughly 50 yards from me providing a brief opening. I mewed with my mouth call with my gun trained to the opening in the timber. He stopped and I was able to place a perfect shot on him broadside hitting both lungs. He dropped immediately. Before he fell I was reloading my gun without taking my eyes off of him, I had practiced this all summer. There was no need for a second shot as he had expired within the minute or two it took for me to reload and get to a better angle to shoot. I was alone and the heat concerned me as well as the flies/hornets so I took a couple pictures and worked quickly to get the meat hanging. Halfway through my brother found me and we were able to turn the elk over together. I will say this, I have cleaned some stinky animals in my life and grew up on a farm with cattle, goats, horses and chickens. This freshly wallowed elk take the cake as far as how terrible it smelled. The smell on my hands 2 afterwards would wake me up while I was sleeping if I put my hands too close to my face.

I know I am very lucky to have been successful and normally I am a very modest person, but I know my success was due to my preparations. I can boast about this because my waypoint titled, “overlooked bedding area” I dropped 3 months prior from my home in Minnesota was 398 yards from where I shot my elk. Am I a good elk hunter, no. Am I a good hunter yes, but only because I put in the work to be one. Anyone who is motivated enough can be successful, set your own limitations don’t let someone else set them for you.

The pack out was grueling, but at least it was down hill. Roughly 3.5 miles to the truck. I’ve never been so happy to be carrying that much weight on my back. I will also add that who you bring with you is a big deal. The guys I went with took the preparations seriously and they kept a positive attitude despite the adversity of everything. They were also more than happy to put a quarter in their pack and hike it to the truck.
 

Attachments

  • 1463DCEF-F537-42AE-8980-8355C9774089.jpeg
    1463DCEF-F537-42AE-8980-8355C9774089.jpeg
    225.6 KB · Views: 219
  • EB1500A8-4071-4836-B07B-38AAB1961AA4.jpeg
    EB1500A8-4071-4836-B07B-38AAB1961AA4.jpeg
    711 KB · Views: 210
  • F34FEC38-FE84-4748-9D6E-0D86FA0BC18C.jpeg
    F34FEC38-FE84-4748-9D6E-0D86FA0BC18C.jpeg
    703.4 KB · Views: 210

tbowers

Senior Member
Joined
May 29, 2019
Messages
108
thats great- good job and great attitude. If you ever view a thread where someone asks about a certain region, state, etc you typically will see comments of 'tons of pressure' 'there are better units nearby' 'very few animals' 'difficult access' ' to many roads'....list goes on and on and on of things that deter you. Not saying some of that comments arent true but in the end you do need to 'just go' and figure it out the best you can. There may be people that have the same attitude and prep as much as you and are unsuccessful in terms of killing a animal but provided you take away some learning points you are going to be better prepared if you choose to go again.

Also be prepared to 'fail' at least when it comes to elk hunting, its more then common to go an entire trip and not see or hear one - speaking from experience that can really wear you down especially if you come from the midwest or east where you are accustomed to hunting deer where if you walked blindly in any direction for a week you are going to run into deer. Set your mind right, do the prep, go and have fun.
 
OP
W

workethic

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2019
Messages
53
thats great- good job and great attitude. If you ever view a thread where someone asks about a certain region, state, etc you typically will see comments of 'tons of pressure' 'there are better units nearby' 'very few animals' 'difficult access' ' to many roads'....list goes on and on and on of things that deter you. Not saying some of that comments arent true but in the end you do need to 'just go' and figure it out the best you can. There may be people that have the same attitude and prep as much as you and are unsuccessful in terms of killing a animal but provided you take away some learning points you are going to be better prepared if you choose to go again.

Also be prepared to 'fail' at least when it comes to elk hunting, its more then common to go an entire trip and not see or hear one - speaking from experience that can really wear you down especially if you come from the midwest or east where you are accustomed to hunting deer where if you walked blindly in any direction for a week you are going to run into deer. Set your mind right, do the prep, go and have fun.
I can’t agree with you more! We held a couple of zoom meetings to go over the hunt and at the first one I told them that I would be astounded if we even saw an elk. This is where I was most impressed with their attitudes. They took that in stride and were just pumped to go climb a mountain.
I’m a spot and stalk bear hunter. I know what it’s like to hunt hard for 10 days and come up empty handed.
 

Bearwhisky

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2019
Messages
222
Since you arent interested in elk hunting, do you mind telling me what unit and drainage you were in? Ha! Im kidding. Congrats on your hard work paying off.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
  • Like
Reactions: DGF
OP
W

workethic

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2019
Messages
53
Since you arent interested in elk hunting, do you mind telling me what unit and drainage you were in? Ha! Im kidding. Congrats on your hard work paying off.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I can’t take all the fun out of it for you! Lol

thanks!
 

Marine4life

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2017
Messages
348
Location
Missouri
Congrats on your bull and a great hunt. Hard to tell from the pics but when you said it was a grueling pack out I noticed you could definitely benefit from a better pack that utilizes load lifters. It makes a world of difference IMO. Again, congrats


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
 

Disco14

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2014
Messages
247
Congrats d thanks for sharing. Must have been so rewarding after all that effort- well done!
 

SonnyDay

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2019
Messages
208
Congrats! Cool story of how preparation can really pay off for a new elk hunter. Thanks for sharing.
 

Latest posts

Featured Video

Stats

Threads
211,845
Messages
2,182,315
Members
52,937
Latest member
SKD4WNTR
Top