Wow! What a season.It is no secret 2020 was terrible year with COVID-19! With that said, it was an outstanding hunting year!!
The season started again with a Colorado muzzleloader antelope tag. I was humbled on stalk after stalk. Anyone who has hunted them during the rut knows they are even more unpredictable than normal. This buck didn’t seem to be interested in the rut, but in filling his belly. It was his downfall as a little terrain and some big, perfectly placed cactus allowed me to get close and he fed into 75 yards before figuring out something was not right.
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The next trip was to Wyoming with my daughter. She burned her seven antelope points and drew a very good unit. In addition, she beat the odds and picked up two doe tags in an adjoining unit! I met her at the airport and on the drive up, I told her she would need to be patient and look over a lot of bucks before getting too excited about filling her tag. She had shot some does before, but never a buck, and I knew this was going to be the biggest challenge. The first day by noon, we had looked over 40+ bucks and she was getting VERY antsy. When she saw this buck, she made it clear it was the one for her and she made a great 275 yard shot. She was very happy and so was I. That evening she shot two does out of the same herd. One shot kills at 200 yards and 315 yards. I was impressed with her shooting to say the least.
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A few weeks later, I was hunting Colorado elk in a very low-density unit with an either sex tag. I hunted hard for five days before seeing my first elk a long ways off. I had spotted a few cows below a cliff as it was getting light, was not going to be picky because I wanted the meat and beat feet in their direction. About halfway to the cows, I stopped to glass and make sure they had not moved. As I relocated them, a good bull walked out from behind a big juniper and started sniffing around. I told myself not to mess this up. I got within 600 yards and was going to let the herd bed down before I made a move. They started moving up a draw that eventually led to private land so I moved as close I could, about 450 yards, and shot at a fairly steep angle uphill. I forgot to compensate for a crosswind and hit the bull about 10 inches behind the shoulder. He stood there and a quick follow-up shot, accounting for the wind this time, put him straight down.
When I walked up to him, I was tickled. He was a great 6x6 bull! As always, reality set in and I realized he was a long way from my vehicle. He was down at 7:30 in the morning and I got the last load of meat and antlers to the truck at 9:30 that night, working nonstop. Tiring, but I will do it as long as I can!
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In Colorado, you can legally take two or more bulls, by hunting both “A” and “C” tags. I took advantage of that and three weeks later I was hunting elk again during 2nd season with my elk hunting mentor Jim (now 74 years old). I had talked him into one more elk hunt and always look forward to spending time with him. Unlike last year when we were hunting “his” unit, this year we came to “mine”. I put Jim in all of my best spots trying to get him on a bull. We saw a couple of elk, including one very nice bull, but couldn’t connect. On day four, I put Jim in a spot where I had killed a 5x5 three years earlier and wandered off to the north about a mile. Well right as the sunset a big, broken 6x6 bull walked out 150 yards to the west of me and started feeding in the open. One shot and down the old warrior went. I would have much rather Jim gotten this bull than me. We tried for another day and Jim left a day early, happy to have had the experience together.
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I had purchased an Oklahoma deer tag and was planning to hunt a ranch I had gained access to over the summer. As luck would have it, I also picked up a good Colorado deer tag off the leftover list days before I left for the weeklong hunt. Two is always better than one!
The Oklahoma deer hunt was tough. Three days of hiking and glassing had produced only a few deer tracks and no sightings at all. On the morning of day four, I was sitting on a mesa overlooking a lot of country and two waterholes. About an hour after sunrise, a mulie buck pushed a doe out from a draw to one of the waterholes and it was an easy decision to shoot. I let them walk into 250 yards and was thankful to fill my tag with a nice buck.
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This left the last tag of the year and the biggest surprise. I had never hunted this unit in Colorado and spent two days covering as much of it as I could. I had located a few decent mulie bucks, but nothing I was ready to shoot just yet. As I was driving to check out a larger piece of public land, I passed a green winter wheat field. I had not seen anything green in this country at all and so I stopped to check for tracks on the side of the road. When I got out of the truck, there were tracks everywhere. I checked OnX and there were about three square miles of public land on the south side of the road. As I looked out across it, I notice about 15 deer standing in the sage looking at me from 700 yards away. I put my binoculars up and was shocked to see they were all whitetails…which promptly took off as if the Devil were chasing them. There were numerous bucks in the group, but one had an impressive frame that stood out.
I watched them run off into a sagebrush flat and lost sight of them as I drove up to the corner of the public land where the wind would be in my favor and I was out of sight. I had to pull my tag out of my pack and check the regulations to confirm it was good for both mule deer and whitetails. It was! There were two small hills between myself and where I thought the deer had run to, other than that, it was pretty flat. I kept the hills in front of me and eventually snuck up on top. I took about 30 minutes to locate the bucks chasing the does through the sage and I got a better look at the biggest buck. I had not shot a whitetail in over 20 years and he was significantly bigger than any previous deer I had taken. I watched five bucks pester does for three hours before they bedded down. I took most of the afternoon to pick my way around the edge of the public/private boundary, fighting the wind, to slip in behind them. An hour before dark they all got up about 250 yards away and fed to my right. They had no idea I was there and I watched them for quite a while before the buck stood broadside 200 yards from me. He was a clean 5x5, with double brow tines and a 20” spread. He was also very busted up with many points and part of his main beam missing! I would love to see the buck that inflicted the damage!
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2020 was a great hunting season and I couldn’t ask for more. Very blessed to live where I do and have a wonderful wife who supports me. I hope you hit the tag lottery in 2021!
Hoping to retire in about nine years, but blessed with a very flexible job, a great boss and an outstanding employer.Holy cow that is amazing! Quick question are you retired or just have a job that is flexible to allow you to hunt quite often? Asking because that seems like a attractive future . Total respect and know that success only comes through hard work.