We knew going in this hunt is nothing special for size, quantity though is great.
It really is a rat race to get to a spot opening morning, so much that we woke up at 2am to ensure we all were able to walk our 2-3 miles in to our spots before other hunters.
We left camp at 3am (shooting time was at 6:49!)
Bret claims it was a stretch but I'd bet he has a hole in his pocket...
Nearly all of us arrived first, Bret and Craig had a hunter in their spot so they had to move on.
Waiting in the dark (off and on snoozing away) I could hear bulls bugling, I also had the fun of watching 3 guys "sneak" in on a herd of elk with bulls bugling at 4:45 in the morning, 2 hours before shooting time!
Yes, they all had their headlamps on. They got to about 150 yards (all guessing in dark) when the elk on edge of herd began to bark. Surprisingly the bulls/cows all went silent after a minute.
A couple minutes later I was entertained by the awful sounding bugles of same three hunters trying to call the elk back (still 2 hours before shooting time).
At this point I got to watch the steady stream of headlamps pouring off the ridge 3 miles away from 2 different trailheads. I stopped counting around 30 headlamps....
As daylight approached all bugling stopped in the area as hunters arrived to the "leftover" spots.
Finally when light arrived, I seen other hunters scattered around and I didn't feel I was in a good spot anymore so I started towards my backup spot.
I arrived to find 5 cows and this small bull hiding out on the flat about 50 yards away when I peeked over the ledge. One quick shot at 8am and my hunt was done.
After deboning my bull, I decided to check on Dad as I was nearing his location. Dropping down the mountain to his location, I spook out a couple deer past him. He had only seen 6 cows and 7 deer all morning (10:45am). I said I will sit with you for a while then head back to camp with my first load of meat.
Within the next 30 minutes we had a calf run by, 2 cows and a calf, then 6 cows. Finally around 35 minutes this bull come running over the ridge, hell bent for anywhere but there. However he ran from the fire right into the frying pan.
After getting Dad's bull deboned and bagged, our trek to camp started. The final 5/8 of a mile up hill to camp, Dad was too tired, so he left his meat along trail and I came back down to pick it up for him.
Later that night at camp, Bret and Craig came in they too had bulls down.
Craig wanted a horse, I said I'd pack my bull and Dad's bull out on my back though, horses are expensive!
So next morning, with Tom out hunting we all started packing meat.
I was staging Dad's and my bull about 5/8 below camp again. However it was still a long hike to that point. On my third and final haul I was nearly there when Bret showed up with a horse! He took what was left and my current load.
He asked me to go down and debone Craigs bull then help move the meat. Sure, so off I went back down the mountain.
I got it deboned (was already quartered) then was working on cutting off rack when Bret arrived. I told him I could not pack another pound of meat anywhere, the horse would need to get to this point.
So we took off towards camp, half way back I told him to leave me behind I will get there, just at much slower pace.
Couple hours later at camp, I finally arrive. my GPS said I put on 16.9 miles that day and climbed over 4700' in elevation. About 7-8 miles was packing 1 1/2 bulls.
I was exhausted, after eating literally about 1 1/2 pounds of spaghetti, a breakfast burrito, granola bar and a cupcake, I hit the sack. I woke up 13 hours later to snow falling
I really need to find a new hobby, this meat packing business is getting hard on me. Starting to think I was a horse in a earlier life or should be in next... lol
With such strong winds that last day, trees were doing down all over the place. Two were within yards of the tent. At 12:30 decision was made to pack it up and head for home.
We were able to pack up entire camp and headed out within 32 minutes! New record for us
Tom seen around 60 elk, including 2 legal bulls, he just didn't have a good shot so he passed. 4 of 5 on dinks though was still fun
Sad part is it was the last time a elk tag will ever have Dad's name on it. He will go with me if I ever draw my tag in UT, although he said he will just be the camp cook and fish. He has done good, in his relatively short time as a "elk" hunter from MN.
He went in the late 70's with my Grandpa (no success).
However he came to CO in '04 with some friends, he shot a 5x5. Then over the course of the next 11 years he has hunted CO and UT. Filling most of his tags. He now has 5 bulls on his wall at home and countless memories to go with them
"Hunting is where you prove yourself"