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I’ve been very busy for the last few weeks so I haven’t had the time to write any of this down, but this rainy morning is a good time to start.

My brother and I took 3 weeks for an Elk hunt in Colorado from late August until mid September. We came back after just two weeks to take care of some family matters, but it was still a great hunt.

Four of us went and it was the first Elk hunt, or western hunt of any kind for that matter, for all of us. It was a do it yourself hunt, no outfitters or guides. Very little idea of what to expect, except 3 weeks away from work, and a lot of hiking with our bows.

We went to an over the counter unit in western Colorado. After a 30 hour drive, we pitched camp on some BLM ground, and started looking for Elk.



The first afternoon we checked a place that had been recommended by some friends who go out for the third rifle season. It was mostly sage brush and pine country at about 7500 feet. It was too dry and too early for the Elk to be that low but still pretty country




The second day we went to another place, driving about 5 miles from camp and parking at about 8000 feet. From there we hiked in, eventually hunting between 8500 and 11,000 feet. The landscape changed from arid pine and sage brush, to lush creek bottoms, parks (meadows), spruce and quaking aspens.

My brother going up the mountain.


And we found Elk, right away. While walking in the first afternoon, several elk busted out of the creek bottom and up the mountain. One large cow stopped on the hillside, 35 yards away…quartering away…close to the road and close to the truck…and we had two guys that had bought only cow tags…and I had her perfected framed in the view finder, recording…and no one shot. [eek][eek]

My brother did end up shooting a big cow our second day in that area, and it was the first time I did NOT have the video camera on him. We had decided to split up and maximize our hunting/scouting efforts, and of course, he shoots his first elk, at 20 yards. She was huge, and it took a while to get her out. It was dark, and unfortunately, I didn’t get any field pictures of her. Two guys from Colorado who are Elk hunting veterans camped near us, and helped us get her out They estimated her at 500 pounds.

We were into them pretty good for the first few days, but then pressure from us, and the others who were hunting here pushed them out, and when you push elk out, they don’t run a few hundred yards like whitetails, they go several miles, over a few mountain ranges, and then settle down.

We now had to walk further to find elk, and escape pressure. The third day, my brother and I went to the top of the mountain, and hiked east along the ridge for a few miles.

Me at about 11,000 feet.


Everything you see in the picture is BLM land, and open to hunting. We heard some bulls bugling up here the morning before, so decided to get up above them the next day. They were bugling again, but over on the other mountain…elk are tricky like that. [wallmad][ko]

After several days of chasing them around, we decided to take a little break, went to town and picked up a small game license and decided to shoot some of the blue grouse we were constantly seeing. The SBXT I bought from BushNLO made quick work of this one. They are tasty.


We got back to Elk hunting the beginning of the second week. We decided to split up again. I went about 5 miles east of where we parked, and at about 10,500 feet, found some smoking hot elk sign, and this wallow. I set up downwind of the wallow, but had to sit on another ridge to make that happen, and of course, I heard elk go across the ridge I was not on. So, I stayed out there and the next day set up a nice blind mid way up that ridge, and one right on the wallow, hoping the wind would be right for one of them. It was, and I was confident that I would see some Elk.

About 7:00pm, I heard some cow calls, and some brush breaking (elk are loud moving through the mountains) and got ready. I was not prepared for what poked around the spruce trees…a man with a rifle. No, rifle season was not open, but that didn’t matter to him.

I approached him, and he said he was not hunting, just trying to see if he could call something in. I asked why he had a rifle, and he said for protection for the bears, “there’s plenty of ‘em here, and some mean ones too”.

Unfortunately for me, he came right from the dark timber where I believe the elk were bedding at the head of the draw. Rode his horse and pack mule right to the bench they were likely bedded on (yep, had a pack mule for just trying to see if he could call something in too). I figured he blew the elk out of the area, but hunted the wallow the next few days in case a roamer came to it. I saw nothing.

Here is a view of the wallow over my shoulder, 25 yards from my spruce blind.


A close up of the wallow.


The one thing that surprised me most was the weather…hot and dry, very hot and dry. It was nearly 90 degrees in camp every day. Shorts and tee shirt weather, and even that was hot.



We saw some decent bulls, heard some bugling, but mostly in the dark, as it was still a little early for heavy bugling, and saw plenty of mule deer.
We had to leave early so we came back the end of the second week, but it was still a great trip, and I would suggest everyone here do something like that at least once. You really don’t know what you are missing until you get out of NJ. It will put the whole, shoot-a-60-pound-deer-over-a-pile-of-corn experience into perspective for you. ;) :D
 

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Awesome pics [up] Looks like you had a great time..
 

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great pics[up][up]
 

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Aaahhh Yeeesss...I can hear the quakies..
Were you hunting the BookCliff Mountain Range?
Anywhere near Douglas Pass? or the Utah Border?
I used to camp in the mountains near Douglas Pass every fall and hunt Elk with Bow and Black Powder.

Sounds like a great time
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Were you hunting the BookCliff Mountain Range?
Anywhere near Douglas Pass? or the Utah Border?
Not that far west, closer to Rifle. We hit the White River National Forest and some BLM land in the area.
 

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i was waiting for you to post up some pictures.
thats some big land.
nice job. [up]
 

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Awesome Doug. That is one trip I want to make someday. Can you buy the tags over the counter or is it lottery? How about a mule deer tag OTC or draw?
 

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Awesome, now thats what I call hunting.
 

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Sounds like you guys had a great time [up] That Elk hunting is some tough hunting We hunted just west of Grand Junction ( Glade Park Unit #40) for a period of 11 straight year and had some extremely good luck,of coarse it was private property and that make a big difference out there !!! Hunting BLM Land along with many others makes it EXTREMELY difficult[wallmad] Got my third preference point for that unit and will be heading back there the third week of September next year cant wait :p I have one spot available if someone has 3 points for Colorado and wants to hunt an absolutely awesome spot contact me at the Taxidermy shop at 732-918-8699 In the 11 years we hunted there we took a total of 9 mature bulls scoring from 272" to 331" and three more bulls on another ranch in Rifle..
 

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Elk sure are tough $25,000.00 later and no elk yet. Been with some top outfitters especially in Alberta over the years and no shot yet. Good deer and memorys but no Elk bone yet. Now I'm way past my prime so its unlikley an Elk comes to my Mooseeuuuumm[rofl][rofl]
 

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Sorry Doug great pictures and the experiance to match. Keep at it and get one before it gets to late for you as well. Keep going back.
 
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