My First Elk Hunt


New member
Mar 25, 2001
Northwestern PA
Hello All,

This post isn't so much about elk hunting as it is about elk hunters.

I arrived 5 days prior to my Colorado elk hunt to get used to the altitude - which I didn't find as a problem. We hunted between 8700 feet to as high as 11,000 feet. Based on a local hunter that has was born, raised and lived in Colorado all of his 60 plus years I took his advice - with regards to elk hunting. He knew the mountains and all of the trails like the back side of his hand. This guy put his 1/2 ton deisel truck in places I would never even think of putting a 4 wheel drive truck. He was kind enough to take me on many trails and explain to me the "typical" travel routes of the elk. Of course those routes changed after the first day with all the pressure on the elk. I had an elk call (cow call) given to me and was instructed how and when to use it. I practiced for 4 days until I made the sounds I was supposed to be making with it. The first time I tried it - it sounded like a ruptured duck LOL. I learned to be quite good at it after 4 days of practice. On the second day (4 days prior to the season) Rich (the local guy) and myself walked into this small meadow (at 10,500 feet) and he gave a cow call, one responded. We could hear the cow on the other side of some pine trees not more then 100 feet away - it was kind of neat. I then tried my cow call and it responded. We could hear the elk walking in the pines but we never saw it. Then the wind shifted and it was gone - we could hear it running away - wow are they noisy.

After several days of scouting (with Rich) and following his advice we developed a game plan for opening day. I sat on the edge of that same meadow all morning. I never saw or heard an elk. One other buddy did see 8 cows but he only had a bull tag. Two of the other guys in our party saw elk but again, all cows and all they had were bull tags.

On the third day Rich and I sat on a bluff overlooking a valley where he said he has seen elk many times. We sat and glassed this valley for about 30 minutes. I took several readings with my Leica 1200 range finder and determined my longest shot would be 550 yards, well within my range. We did watch a buck (mule deer) checking a doe for about 15 minutes at 280 yards. Rich estimated that mule deer buck at 24" inside and a nice 4 X 4. Rich isn't the type that likes to sit for very long so he told me he was going to walk along the top edge of this meadow and drop down into the pines to see if he could "kick" anything out. Through an opening in the trees I could see him walking along the edge - getting in position to make his "drive". I sat on top of that mesa until it was to dark to see in the valley. I figured at that point I would walk around thru (a burned area) the trees and back to the edge of the meadow. As I cleared the trees I saw 10 animals out on the meadow. One animal on the far left of the group was looking right at me. That bull (found out later it was a bull) made me at 550 yards. I ducked back along the edge and gained 200 yards on the feeding animals. The next time I popped over the edge I started to go prone, just then I stepped on a branch on the ground - they all spooked. I remembered what Rich had told me earlier in the week. I bleeped on the cow call. The entire group slammed on the brakes and looked my way. By this time I was prone and trying to get on the last animal. Had I had 2 more seconds I would of squeezed the trigger, but they bolted again. Again I gave a "bleep" on the cow call, again they stopped - 2 where still visable to me. Again, I needed a couple of more seconds. It didn't happen. Those where the only elk I saw the entire 5 days of the season.

What really got me was the other hunters on the various mountains we hunted. I have never run across a more freindly goup of people anywhere and there where hunters from all over the country. In fact it was almost rare to see a vehicle with Colorado license plates. Two of my buddies walked this one valley for 2 miles and when they popped out there where to guys from Texas driving by - on this cow path. The guys from Texas gave them a lift back to their truck - 7 miles by dirt road. On another occasion myself and a local drove one section towards other hunters we had sitting in a valley. This very friendly gentleman (Wayne) from West Virginia was driving by in his Chevy crew cab and offered us a ride back up the mountain. I must of ran across at least 50 other hunters in the 9 days I spent in the mountains and very single one of them where very friendly people. Quite a few times I would pop out of the woods to smell something cooking in one of the tent camps set up all over. I remember one group form Oklahoma that offered me some stew and a soda. I carried my 30lb pack and rifle and had my food and drink with me but I did thank them for their kind offers. I ran across 4 guys from Missouri that insisted I take a break and share some of their food and soda's. These guys made some of the best stew I ever ate. I thanked everybody for their hospitallity. We often hear negative stories of slob hunters and such. It sure was refreshing to meet with such nice people from all across the country enjoying the outdoors. What really amazed me was that nearly every vehicle I came across had the keys in the ignition and nobody around. When I asked the locals about it they told me that is standard practice. Nobody bothers anybody else's stuff. After the first day I would leave my truck along the side of a dirt road, keys in the ignition, window part way down and nobody bothered anything. That sure was refreshing. I didn't have to concern myself with loosing my keys since I left them in the ignition.

In 9 days of walking up and down the various mountains I lost 18lbs and I ate like a horse. One night we were invited to dinner at a locals house whereby I ate 2 T-bone steaks (16oz each), all sorts of side dishes and chocolate cake and ice cream. Such friendly people. I wish ALL people where as friendly.

Although I didn't kill any elk I had a great time with very nice people. I enjoyed the great outdoors and the people that I shared it with - hunters.

I know what you mean about good folks out there hunting. I was in Co and met a guy fron NH who let me stay in his motor home for 4 days. Saved me a bunch of money since i wasnt prepared to camp since i was with a crappy outfitter and left early.
Shaky,that was a great post.
We dont usually run into as many people out hunting as you did but our experences have been much the same.
Great people out to enjoy the hunting.
That was a great story Shaky. There are still a lot of decent folks to be found. Sorry you didn't score, but sounds like you had a successful hunt anyway.
Glad to hear that you had a good hunt, Shaky! Sorry you didn't connect, but what fun would that have been on your first hunt? ;)

sounds like a great time I have never met a person i haven't liked while hunting out in CO we had a local guy camp nerar us with horses we helped him set camp he said if we needed he would pack out our elk if we got them down to far from camp. sorry you didn't score but sometimes the best hunts are those where you go home with an open tag
Glad you had a great hunt in Colorado,Don.Too bad you didnt connect with an Elk but thats hunting I suppose.Sounds like you met some nice folks there,that is good to hear.Glad your back and had a wonderful time. :D
Glad you enjoyed hunting our state Don......oh, and the reason you didn't run into in Colorado hunters is that they were all hunting in Wyoming! :D
You first elk hunt and your first novel. You're really having a hell of a year so far.

You very well could be right, lol


Yes I ate like a horse and still lost 18lbs.


I eat very slow :D as you know, lol.


Yes I did have a great time but then again I camped with VPD10 (Jim) who is great company always. I just love the little dago

Jim did scare the living crap out of me one day though. We were both walking off of a meadow and thru some woods to get back to the truck. It was a little over a mile walk in the dark. Ole Jim was huffing and puffing like a steam boat. I forced him to stop several times. I told him, remember you have to take 3 steps for every 2 of mine. It isn't a race, we have all night to get out of here, take a break. Jim was sore the next day and fortunately he was ok. Other then that we had a great time and Jim and I are planning more hunts together in the future. Somebody has to watch over the ole geezer - a job I truly enjoy.

Have a good one all,

Don I want to give Jim a hunter's tip. Please pass it along for me . Tell Jim that it is easier to keep up with taller people if he would crack them across the chins every once in awhile. :D They have a tendency to go at your pace then.
Thanks for the story Shaky...Great times in great places are very hard to beat...Even if one doesn't get what one is innitially after... :D :D :D

I never let Jim get close enough to kick me. My Momma didn't raise a fool - I have two smart brothers, :D

I did have a great time. The only regret I had is it was only 10 days instead of 10 months. Maybe in 10 months I could of found some elk to kill :D

Have a good one,

Shaky I can only hope my first elk hunt will go as well as yours ;)

That is one of the best non-killing hunting stories I have ever read. Congrats on a great time :D
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> That is one of the best non-killing hunting stories I have ever read. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Very well put Flipper. It was a joy to read his story
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