Muzzleloader Mania - Part 1 - Foggy Bottom Bull

trb

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Colorado
Season's greetings!

This is the first of a 2 or 3 part mini-series of trip reports recounting my week of efforts to fill three CO muzzleloader tags: bull, buck, and bear. Join me as I chase elk through the wood with a smokepole, wearing a blaze orange tricorne hat, and playing British Grenadiers on the fife and drum.
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Last year, I was thrilled to connect with an buck in the alpine on the opening day of muzzleloader season here in CO. After that experience, I eagerly tripled down on muzzleloader tags this year. With a daughter born in April, my application strategy centered around staying closer to home, and concentrating my relatively limited scouting opportunities in one unit. Luckily, the stars aligned and I cashed in some elk points, and picked up matching buck and bear tags.

I got home this afternoon with heavy coolers and having hiked 40 miles in 40 hours, half of which was carrying elk meat. While it was a short hunt, I hope to share my experience of scouting and preparation, culminating in what I can only hope is just the beginning of a fine week in the woods.

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I will continue the story tomorrow, after I get some sleep and some processing done.

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rtraverdavis

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Loved your story last year and look forward to this years’. Congratulations on the heavy coolers, but even more so your new daughter.
 
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trb

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After our daughter was born, I managed to gain about 20 lbs in 2 months. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, perhaps it was the stress of trying to figure out what the hell I was doing as a first time father to support my wife and daughter, or perhaps it was the breakfast, lunch, and dinner beers I was consuming between fighting for my life to coerce a nap from our infant.

About the 2 month mark, we had figured out that she would sleep like a rock if she was strapped into a chest carrier. So, with summer break upon me, hiking with the baby became my life. We quickly graduated from on trail hikes to 8-12 miles off trail shed hunts, which she proved to be adept at. More than once, she soiled herself within 50 yards of a shed, acting as a sort of vile, rudimentary (but effective) bird dog. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree...

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Many miles later, I was whipped into shape, and feeling very physically prepared for hunting season.
 
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trb

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Colorado
The reason I chose this unit is because my brother lives in it, and I have helped him on his previously successful rifle hunts there. The plan was originally for him to join me, but he ended up taking an opportunity to go on a BC moose hunt, which overlapped with CO muzzleloader dates. He is on that trip now, so hopefully I'll have a bonus moose pic or two to throw in here by the end of the week. However, this meant that I would be embarking on my own hunt solo, which, after a summer cooped up in the house, I was excited about.

My brother's 2021 bull in the unit:
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trb

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Joined
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749
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Colorado
Despite having spent lots of time in the unit prior to this year, most of it had been down lower, trying to intercept elk migrating downhill. I knew that I would still need to gain familiarity with the unit's higher elevations, which became my summer's mission in the relatively (I say relatively because as a teacher I have summer's off, which I realize provides far more scouting opportunity that most have) few blips of free time I had.

It became my M.O. to wake up at 2 am, drive 1.5-2 hrs to different trailheads, and hike as fast as possible above treeline to glass animals in the alpine, and back home by midday. Given this is limited unit with plenty of elk, my efforts were regularly rewarded.

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perma

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May 31, 2022
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The wild west
Despite having spent lots of time in the unit prior to this year, most of it had been down lower, trying to intercept elk migrating downhill. I knew that I would still need to gain familiarity with the unit's higher elevations, which became my summer's mission in the relatively (I say relatively because as a teacher I have summer's off, which I realize provides far more scouting opportunity that most have) few blips of free time I had.

It became my M.O. to wake up at 2 am, drive 1.5-2 hrs to different trailheads, and hike as fast as possible above treeline to glass animals in the alpine, and back home by midday. Given this is limited unit with plenty of elk, my efforts were regularly rewarded.

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That’s a clear image, what were you using?
 

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