Well, I’m back from Colorado and I got an Elk! hehe, that was quite an experience. We hunted for a total of 4 days. There were 5 people in our group, including myself. So, Bill (my brother) and I were assigned a guide, per day, and the others were assigned guides as well. First, we had this guy named Tad, who was a sheep guide in Alaska prior to working at this ranch. He was pretty cool and definitely knew how to hunt animals.
The way that they hunt is that they drive into the mountains, using 4×4 trucks, in the morning and then again at night. So, you drive out around 6:30-6:45am, right as the sun is coming up. By the time you get to the hunting area, it was usually pretty bright. Then, we would go back to the camp around 10:00am and hang out there till around 3:30-4:00pm. At that point, we would take the truck to a different hunting area and hunt till dusk. We were on a private ranch, where the ranch owner had about 50,000 acres. He had one mountain/hill area that is NEVER hunted. This is to provide a safe haven for the Elk, so that they stay on his land more. I’ve been told that people have seen herds of Elk numbering 400-500 or more in that area. Otherwise, they had about 6-10 hunting areas that they took people throughout the week. They never hunted the same area more than once per day, so that the Elk would not get into a schedule of avoiding the area.
So the first morning, Bill, Tad, and I went to a hunting area. He would drive down a path, and stop before a clearing. We would then walk to the clearing and see if there were any animals there. We got to a bigger clearing and Tad started calling the Elk. We heard one or two bugle back to us, so he kept calling. A group of Elk ended up coming within 20-30 yards of us. There were about 7-10 in the group and they just walked down a runway that was pretty close to us. There wasn’t a real big bull in the group, so we let them pass. Afterwards, we moved to an edge of the trees and Tad continued calling for bulls… He almost got this one to come out from the forest, when all of the previous elk and more came running into the field. This time, there were probably about 30 or more in the group. He said that they were probably spooked by other hunters, since we were near one of the fence lines of the property.
Anyway, two days went by of similar type situations… each time that we went out, we saw Elk. After the first two days, Tad had to go back to his other job, so Bill and I went out with another guide named Girstsaw (sp?). He is from Mongolia, and he was a guide there before coming to the US. I forget the type of animal that he guided for, but Tad said that it is one of the hardest animals to hunt. Anyway, Bill nicknamed him Mountain Goat, cause this fucker could run up hills/paths like it was no problem. I don’t think that he ever got tired. Anyway, Monday morning, we were all walking down a path. We heard about 3-4 bulls bugling in the forest/a meadow over a hill. I could see about 10 elk in the forest, but it was pretty thick Aspen, so I couldn’t get a good shot at one of the bulls. While we were looking at those, we crept up the path a little, and another group of about 10 elk came from another direction and crossed the path in front of us. They crossed the path about 75 yards away from us. Girstsaw whispered that there was a 5×5 bull in the pack, so I knelt down and put my elbow on my knee. The bull stopped in the middle of the trail and faced us broadside. My first shot knocked him down like a lump of shit. Right after I shot, Girstsaw started calling like he was a female elk (cow), and made the occasional bugle. This is to calm the elk in the area. So, at that point, Bill was the next to shoot. We tried to hunt them for a while, but unfortunately the other elk moved out of the area. While we were walking to continue hunting, we walked up to the Elk that I shot. It ended up that I shot him through the spinal cord, which made him drop like that. So, I guess a bit graphically, I put another shot through the back of his neck to finish him off. Keep in mind that I had my gun sighted in at 200 yards and was aiming at the power plant area at about 75 yards or so… The elk ended up being a 4×5 elk, which isn’t bad at all for that region. 4×5 means that there were 4 points on one side of his rack, and 5 points on the other side. Btw, elk are fucking huge in person… I joked with Bill that the head reminded me of a camel’s head…
So, the next morning (Tuesday), we went out with Girstsaw again. This time, I was somewhat happy that I didn’t need to bring a gun. So I brought a camera instead. When we were driving up to the top of a clearing on one of the mountains, we came across a herd of about 20-30 elk. They ran back into the forest beyond the clearing. The path that we were on eventually continues through the forest to the clearings that we were at the first day (read 3rd paragraph). Anyway, we drove through the woods a little bit and parked. When we got out of the truck, we heard about 6-8 bulls bugling to each other in the hills. We walked fast along the path, to keep up with the elk. Bill had shots at about 3-4 of the bulls along the way, but they were either bad shots, or something else came up. One of the times, I think he was a little too excited, tried shooting at one, but he had the safety on. So, we continued up the mountain path, through the woods. At this point, we were pretty much running along the path. They got to a "clearing" off the edge of the road. Girstsaw was only about 5 feet tall or so, so he couldn’t see the details of the elk in the clearing. Bill was tall enough to see horns, so he took up a position next to the closest tree. He said that at that point, his adrenaline was kicking in, and combined with the rush of running up the hill… he fired his first shot, and we think that he totally missed the bull. Well, it appears that the bull didn’t know where the shot was from, so about as fast as I’ve seen someone reload a bolt-action, Bill had the gun back up against the tree. Between all of this, I was able to sneak up the trail a few steps, so that I could see his next shot. He fired another shot, and this time, we all saw the back side of the Elk drop a bit. Girstsaw continued to call the elk and make bugle noises, as they all took off. We sat there for about 15 minutes or so… We all figured that Bill had hit the spinal cord, similar to how I did.
After the 15 minutes, we all started down the clearing, to where the elk had been. I spotted the blood trail, and we proceeded to follow it through a runway through the forest. It was pretty tough to see the blood in places, but we ended up finding the elk about 600 yards or so from where it was originally shot. It fell down the hill further from the runway that we were on… it would have fell off a 10-15 foot cliff, but it was stopped by 3 pine trees about 5 feet before the edge. So, Girstsaw proceeded to go get the truck, and then gut the elk out. When he cut open the elk, the insides were all full of blood, so we figured that Bill hit some major organ/artery. He also broke a leg, which, we think, is why we all saw the ass end of the elk drop. Otherwise, it was a good shot, and no real gut shot, etc… strange path that the bullet traveled though. At that point, we were about 800-1200 yards downhill from the path where the truck was. So, Girstsaw suggested that we cut it in half and haul it up hill by hand. He ended up cutting it in half around the rib cage, and then split the ass part in two, so that there were two "hams." He through one on his shoulders and proceeded to walk right up through the thick forest, like he was walking down a hill. Meanwhile, Bill and I grabbed a horn and started pulling the front half up to the runway. We then got the front part back to the "clearing" where Bill originally shot it. At that point, Girstsaw had gone back and brought the other ham up to the truck. He didn’t even look winded… Anyway, we got it all back to the truck and were back in camp around 9:00am or so. Bill got a 5×6. Btw, I have some pictures that I took, of some of this… Well, my Dad will have the pictures, but whatever… So, if I get them, I’ll post them somewhere.
My Dad got a nice 4×4 elk, with a rack a little bigger than mine. Another guy got a 6×6 that just overweighed the rest of the racks… The guys at the ranch said that the 6×6 was probably the largest one taken so far this year.
Whew… that is the majority of the hunting parts… I have some other stories, but I’m not in the mood to put them down here, and what can I say… the alcohol was flowing 🙂
It was a good time though, and I think we’ll be going back again next year.