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  1. #1

    Default Colorado 4th Season Cow Elk - My First Elk

    This was my second fall hunting and my first hunt where I successfully harvested a big game animal. For others out there who come across this post and don't have years of experience on your side, just remember - you only have to get lucky once to get the ball rolling.

    After an archery hunt in the fall that was a great camping trip, but not much of a hunting trip, I picked up a leftover license for fourth season in a unit near my house in Denver. Throughout the fall I spent a good amount of time in the area I planned on hunting. I did manage to spot a few animals a long ways off one day in mid October, but mostly I found lots of sign and trails criscrossing a steep hillside. Before I knew it, the season was upon me. I'd found some promising sign, but didn't have any insights that I was extremely confident would lead me to animals. I took the information I had and set out for the hunt. I had it in my head that I had identified some areas with good amounts of relatively fresh sign and I would try to still hunt those timber stands.

    I set aside three days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The weather forecast called for a snow storm to move through the region on Friday. I left my house early and parked my truck about 6:00 AM before the snow started. I set off for the ridge line hoping to glass onto the opposing hillside and catch animals moving down into the timber as the snow moved in. As I walked, the snow started and got stronger. The wind then began to blow. As I reached the treeline, I was turned around by extremely strong winds on the exposed mountain face.
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    For the rest of the day, I moved quietly back through the woods and eventually down to my truck, not seeing anything save for a grouse walking quietly along the snow.

    The next morning was a far cry from the weather the previous day. Bright blue skies and only a few clouds overlooking the fresh snow from the day before greeted me on Saturday morning.
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    On the way back to the same spot I'd tried the previous day, I drove by a hillside that caught my eye. I'm not sure what it was, but something about it drew me in. I decided I'd park my truck and go over to check it out. I got a later start this day, leaving my truck around 8:30 AM with the sun already fairly high. Hiking through these hills hoping to cut some fresh elk tracks in the snow, I got into some really nasty blowdown. After a couple of hours and having covered about a mile and a half I was just about ready to turn around because of how frustrating it was moving through all the down timber. I decided I'd make it to the next crest, then if I didn't see anything, I'd turn around and head back to the truck to try plan B for the day. As I got to the crest just about ready to turn around, I pulled out my binoculars for one last look before turning around. Lo and behold, about 150 vertical feet below me in a little bowl with some aspens, I spotted some fresh elk tracks in the snow. I carefully followed the tracks both directions through my binoculars to make sure I couldn't see any animals before going down to check it out. When I got down to the bottom of the bowl, I found the tracks of probably 6 or 7 animals. It looked as though they had been grazing about in the meadow as the tracks went every which direction.
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    I tried to discern whether they were moving up or down hill by looking at the tracks, but the snow was so fluffy, I couldn't tell. I decided I would follow the tracks up hill first and then could return to the meadow and follow them down, back towards the truck if nothing panned out up hill.

    I set off following the tracks very slowly through the snow. As they moved out of the meadow, the disorganized tracks grouped up into a single line that led up the hill. I took a few steps at a time, pausing every couple of seconds to follow the tracks in the snow ahead of me as far as I could see before taking my next steps. The tracks continued to lead up the hill, seemingly towards a flatter spot on my topo map. As I approached the flatter spot, I chambered a round and slowed down even more. Then, the trees opened up slightly and there were two cows staring right at me about 75 yards away. My heart was beating like crazy, but I couldn't shoulder my rifle with both cows watching. I saw a third cow about 10 yards behind the first two. After about 15 seconds of us standing in a deadlock like this, all three started to walk away from my right to left, taking their eyes off me as they moved. The third cow, moved behind a tree and I took the opportunity to shoulder my rifle as I was out of its line of site. As it came out from behind the tree, it paused in the same spot where the first two had been - about 75 yards away and a perfect broadside shot. I had my rifle shouldered and gave myself one breath in and shot at the bottom of that breath. When I shot, all three cows in my sight took off. I ran up to the spot my cow had stood, heart pounding. I followed its tracks about 30 yards and found it lying among some small pines. A clean kill.
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    In the time leading up to and through the shot, I was oddly clear minded and steady. But when I ran up and located the cow, I was hit by a wave of so many emotions. I felt a lot of accomplishment for having gone from not being a hunter to successfully harvesting an elk in a unit close to Denver in 2 years, I felt sadness for the loss of life, and I felt an extreme sense of connectedness. After the shot, my hands were shaking so badly, I couldn't hardly do anything. It took me about 10 minutes to calm down enough to take a picture, call home, and get to work quartering the cow. Quartering and deboning by myself took about 4 hours. I took down one load of a rear quarter and some scraps that night, passing back through the horrendous blowdown, but this time with probably about a 90 pound load on my back. I've never had a harder hike. I came back the next day with a friend to pack out the rest in similarly blue bird conditions.
    Last edited by nwchen24; 01-12-2018 at 06:04 PM.

  2. #2

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    Congrats, thanks for sharing. What a great accomplishment!

  3. #3

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    That is awesome man. Good for you and a very nice cow elk. I always feel sad for animals that I kill and I always appreciate the gift of meat and the experience of being in God's Country. You are in a great area for some big bulls too.
    Kalispell Montana home to 75% genuinely good individuals, controlled by 25% of the most arrogant people you will ever meet.

  4. #4

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    Excellent story! Thank you for sharing it with us! What a beautiful animal. You earned her. Now enjoy the delicious meat for the rest of the year. Congratulations!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    South East Colorado
    Posts
    9,019

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    Way to go!!
    I'm an addict...archery, rifles, shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders, hunting, fishing, fly fishing..and I don't want rehab

    CWEH...Colorado's Worst Elk Hunter 2007-2017 (but I'm still damned sexy) 10 years of consistency!! Taking 2018 off

  6. Default

    Awesome story. Really appreciate the pictures too. Congratulations.

  7. #7

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    Awesome job! Great story..thanks for sharing!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    SW Michigan
    Posts
    1,574

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    Congrats!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Southern Indiana
    Posts
    2,146

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    Good job on your elk!

  10. #10

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    Isn't following tracks until they fill up w elk just the best?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Colorado Springs, Co
    Posts
    1,986

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    Congrats on a fine job
    I'm turning off Real Life Drive and thats right I'm hittin Easy Street on mud tires

  12. Default

    Great write up and congratulations!

  13. Default

    great story. you should be very proud of yourself.

  14. #14

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    Congrats!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Bismarck, ND
    Posts
    1,171

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    Congrats and nice pics!

  16. #16

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    Nice job and welcome to the "Tribe".

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Texas Pineywoods.
    Posts
    154

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    Awesome hunt! Way to fill the freezer. Loved the play by play.

  18. #18

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    Awesome experience, glad to see see persistence pay off. Congrats on your first.

  19. #19

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    Well done!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Rocky Mountain Front Montana
    Posts
    115

    Default

    Well done!

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
    Posts
    5,074

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    Very nice cow! Well written story too! John
    “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
    ― Theodore Roosevelt

  22. #22

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    Congrats! That sky could hardly be any bluer...

  23. #23

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    Awesome story and even better write up! Congrats!!

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Grand Junction, Colorado
    Posts
    28

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    I love the pictures with all the snow in them! Thanks for posting.

  25. #25

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    Congrats, there"s nothing like the feeling when you harvest your first elk!
    Aim Small, Miss Small

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