With the 3rd season gone, we had 4th season tags. My wife had a 4th season bull tag, I had a 4th season cow tag and my daughter a youth cow tag that would roll into a late December tag.
My wife only had 1 day to hunt. Thursday. So we went up into an area where I had seen a couple bulls during the 3rd season. We had one day for her to get it done. We did not see any elk until lunch time. We made a move but blew them out before getting close. For the last hour of light I had a plan for my wife and son to sit an area where I had seen elk feed out in the past. A steep little canyon with a sage bottom. They were supposed to walking down to the edge and sit and watch while I went into the next canyon south and pushed some brush. Well I went and did my push and nothing. So I circled back o where they were supposed to be sitting. as I crested the ridge I look across the canyon and see 5 bulls. 320 yards from me, but my sife should have been a 100 to 150 yards closer I watch for a few seconds and hope to hear a shot. Nothing. The bulls were nervous, but not leaving. So I sneak down and can not find my wife and son. Had they sat where I intended they would have been under 200 yards and in a perfect spot. One of the bulls was well over 300 another was a big 5 close to 300 and then a smaller 6 in the 280 range. All great bulls. I wonder around trying to find my wife and son. Needless to say when they were heading my son spotted a 6 point bull shed about 800 yards the wrong direction in the bottom of the canyon. They were hiking back from that shed as the bulls headed out. We made one last effort to run over the top and see the bulls, but by the time we topped out they were already 800 yards further. My wife did get the chance to the big bull feeding and she was pretty upset.
The next day my wife was back at work, I was hunting solo. I had a group of elk cross the road in front of me at first light. Where they crossed was private, but where they were heading was public.
So I made a big loop and got around to where they headed. I hiked several miles and passed on several 300+ yard shots hoping to make things easier.
At lunch time it was hot and a nap was in order.
I laid here for almost 2 hours knowing the elk were around and that walking in the trees with them was not working. So I sat and waited as long as I could stand.
As the later afternoon hit I got up and started making plans for the evening. Sadly, my plans turned out running a herd of 10 right through this spot. They ran less than 80 yards from where this picture was taken. I made a move and got on this group but at last light the shot was still further than I had wanted.
The next morning my son and daughter elected not to join me again. I did have a buddy with 2 youth boys that had tags to fill up in the area as well. SO my plan early morning was to check out the private fields before legal light and see if I could locate any elk. Again driving down the main road I look up a little side canyon and see a group of 15+ heading up. I check my gps and sure enough the little canyon was public. I pulled off the main road just out of sight of the elk and snuck back under the fence. A good cow stepped out broad side at 80 yards and bam went down. It was only 8 minutes into legal shooting time and the cow was less than 200 yards from the paved road.
As mentioned before I had not intended on hunting hard for this cow, but I had a step brother who had not killed an elk in 2 years and they were really needing the meat. Needless to say I sent him a pic. Saying "I picked this up at the local whole foods store..."
As she laid...
As soon as I had shot her I called my buddy and told him where I was and to brig the boys. We gutted the cow and put her in the shade under a tree. We spent the afternoon looking for the elk. I took his nephew and he was with his son. Just after lunch time we split up and made a big loop back to the animals.
When we did this his nephew and I jumped a herd without getting a shot. It was the kids first elk hunt and just seeing the elk got him excited and shaky. After jumping that group we found another group that were in a better place. We got in on the group. We had him in a great position and the elk were 200 yards. The biggest cow stepped out for a perfect shot. I coached him through the shot. He did great, but hit about 8" above her back. A clean miss. He cleared the round and went ot laod for a second shot, and the gun jammed... I cleared the jam. By now the elk were getting nervous, he was way excited, and the second shot hit a foot behind the cow. Needless to say they left the country in a hurry.
I love helping kids out.
That season ended the next day.
December 1st rolled around. My daughter had a late season cow tag. She was not going to hunt until some good family friends asked her if she could get an elk for them. We simply did not have any space at all and no need for the meat. the family was in a pretty rough place. So my daughter said she would try.
Remember she is just 12 years old and it is her first year hunting. She already got herself an antelope and a deer.
So early on the first we get up to perfect conditions. Light snow, 2-3 inches of fresh snow and it was still snowing. We hunted some family favorite spots early with no luck. Around 10 in them morning we had kind of stopped hunting and were just 4 wheeling in the blazer... We had a nasty hill we were trying to climb. Needless to say after 5 or 6 tries we made it up. When we crested on top, my daughter joked... You know dad we have a cow tag, so all we will see are bulls.
I laughed and said that would be good problem to have... We made a run up a second really steep hill. As we topped out I looked down into the canyon and see elk. Excited we both throw up the binos. 1...2...3... We counted 16 elk in all...
15 branched antlered bulls and a single spike. It was awesome to see, 2-3 were really good bulls, but most were typical Colorado bulls.
The view from this nob was great.
We glassed a bit and decided to shift country before lunch time.
We were taking a short cut out to our family camping spot on a narrow nasty 2 track. Busting through the brush in the blazer. As we rounded a corner, I saw a lone elk laying down bedded across a canyon. I stop shut off the blazer and have my daughter sneak out. The wind was right and the elk was looking our direction but had not spooked yet. So we closed the distance getting to 160 yards. We could not get closer as we would have to drop in elevation and would not be able to see her. So we set up n the sticks. I let my daughter settle down and get ready. the elk was still bedded, nervous, but still bedded. She was bedded facing away from us and looking back over her rump. I tried a cow call, she acted like she might stand. but still laid almost perfectly still. I whistled at her, still laid. Nothing. We began to think she might have been sick, wounded, etc. Time passed and nothing. the wind shifted, she caught our wind but did not budge. She was holding tight in the thick brush.
We decided that we needed to put her down assuming something was wrong. So my daughter steadied took aim for the neck. She was shooting a group about the size of a baseball off the bench at 200 yards. She got excited and jerked the trigger, luckily the safety was still on... No shot. By now she was shaking and excited... We took a couple breathes, turned the scope up to 8 power and had her pick the spot. She aimed, pulled the trigger and made a perfect neck shot. The elk never kick wiggled or anything.
Her first elk as down...
We got to work on her. She was definitely healthy, plenty of fat, all her legs worked, etc. She was this year calf (a big calf, but definitely this year). She had a full bladder, plenty of poop and food in her. I walked back her tracks and about 100 yard back she had been running with a group of like 6. They ran into a fence. the other crossed but she did not make the jump. It looked like she was running up the hill when we came around the corner in the blazer. Her track stopped right where she laid down. I figure she was was oging back to instinct. The lay down and hide until mom came and got her. She tested negative for CWD and my daughter must be the luckiest little girl around.
I love the sled. It allows for even kids to work.
Loaded in the back:
All notched and headed for home
As a final thought. There are not many things that can bring this big macho guy to tears. However, the beauty of my family and the amazing wife and daughter I have is one... I am amazed by the courage strength and resiliency of my daughter... She is a determined young lady with so many amazing qualities, from her incredible work on the softball diamond, to her dedication and solos in choir, she is talented in ways I can never be... There is no better blessing than having an amazing family and getting to spend time both indoors and especially out with them.
I hope everyone is so blessed. I know that I am blessed far more than I deserve...
Now lets go ice fishing and kill some coyotes!!!!