Tales from the Flat Top safari


New member
Dec 23, 2000
We arrived near the Flat Tops early Thu. 11-1 afternoon, and wasted some time getting last Min. supplies, then headed up the hill.
(me- Do you really want to pack in two cases of beer when it's below 0%
DS- hell yes )
The narrow dirt road was just passable, but then the snow started falling. Half way up we spotted a nice 5X5 bull galloping down the road, then he bailed off down hill, we should have followed his lead and headed back down ourselves. By the time we got near the top it had turned into a white out blizzard. We passed at least a dozen vehicals stuck in the snow, and things were getting ugly. When the snow got over three feet deep, we finally decided to go back, but there was no place to turn around with the horse trailer. It took a couple of hours of snow shovle work and some help from some nice guys in a monster truck but we finaly headed back down. By 2am we were in a hotel eating microwave burritos and working on plan B

Hey DS, tell em about that bull you shot, and leave out the part where I get my boot stuck in the stirrup and fall on my butt in the snow.

(see "DS & Anacondas pix")

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 11-10-2002 09:26: Message edited by: Anaconda ]</font>
We waited for daylight to attempt our second assaut on the big moutain top.......a little wiser and much more rested....we penetrated the depths of the wilderness.....and it was not pretty.

We made it in to our destination after dark, which made setting camp pure hell.....but by 11pm, we were nestling in for what we now know was three more days of constant snowfall....and -16 degree cold.......I don't think you can ever be ready for that.

My fears of bitter cold and whiteout blizzards were materializing right before our eyes....
.....but it would be alright.....because at sunrise the next morning, we would begin our assault holding a pocket full of tags......deep in the heart of elk country.

As the sun rose, it found us high within, we stalked along on the horses in prime habitat.....the sign showed some elk movement through the night...mostly going down. We rode through one aspen choked draw in particular,.....I told Dan I thought it held a lot of promise. But by the time we were at the bottom some 45 minutes later, we had onlt seen a few tracks an no elk. Dan asked "which way now"......and I said, right back up the way we had just come from, ..that I thought it was the place to be. Not 20 miutes later Dan on the lead horse spotted an elk moving through the timber........not sure what it was. As he continued to ride forward, I had already dismounted and locked and loaded angling off the trail through the timber to position for a long shot. Meanwhile, Dan was still cowboyed-up and having...well, let's just say, some difficulty :D ......I looked at Dan and it was obvious the elk would be long gone before he ever got set up for any kind of shot opportunity, as the elk was heading into the dark timber. I now had him in my sight and he was clearly a shooter. One last look at Dan as the horse was dragging him off up the hill :rolleyes: ...and I focussed on the big bull and squeezed off a round at just under 300 yards and I saw the bull buckle. Even though he seemed un-phased at the hit, I said allowed "I got him"..........but he just stood still and looked at us. I fired another round into the big bull......and he began to walk a third round followed......he stopped for a couple of seconds, and the fourth round was less than a second from following when the big bull just collasped where he stood. He only traveled 20 yards from where I first shot him to where he fell.

I go up the trail and find Dan.....and he now has his rifle shouldered and says" where did he go, I can't believe he got away"......and I say, "He didn't, he's right there".......Dan says "WOW! what a bull!"....I say,...."we're phucked...the horse hauled ass at the shots and we now were faced with the possibilty of being stranded deep in the wilderness." Dan works on field dressing the bull while I head off into the wilderness in search of loose ponies......the future is anything but certain at this point.......but we had a nice bull down...only a couple hours into the how bad could things be, right? :cool:
I can't wait to hear if they lived or if they died in the snow.... Great story so far....


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 11-11-2002 06:05: Message edited by: danr55 ]</font>
I think we died Dan! :eek: ...or at least schit my pants when we were coming down and the roads had thawed some and gotten real shitty and after we started back out with my suburban, it slid off the side of a steep ass cliff!!! :eek: ....3 tires were over the edge before it stopped! I have never been so mortified in my life! I walked out and ran into a group of firefighters who were camped hunting.......and with all their gear and man power......and many many hours of winching, we were able to get my rig righted on the road again.

And then of course, my ponies were actibg up and started bucking each other and got too close to my rig and totaled my passenger door! :rolleyes: ....but other than that, nothing too exciting ;)
Yeah....I was in there two years ago with Stu Massey (CO Elk Guide)....and my jaw dropped! Those small towns usually have some dandy heads hanging around...literally!
Ransoms elk antler enema,

One of the fine Mt. horses DS brought along is named "Ransom". Anyway, when we packed out DS's bull, it was Ransoms job to haul the front quarters and the head. The quarters were no problem, but old Ransom didn't like the looks of the big rack on his back and started to get jumpy. We pulled the head/antlers down and set em in the snow behind the horse while Mark goes around front to have a chat with the horse. Ransom didn't like Marks tone and starts backing up.....right into the rack, and (I aint kidding) the top point pokes him right where the sun don't shine ! Oh baby, it was rodeo time, that horse starts kicking and bucking, thinking he had been violated. We both dove for cover as a horse hove wizzed past my head.
"Grab that rack before he breaks it !"
"You grab it, I aint going near that horse"

After the horse setteled down, we rolled in the snow laughing for ten minuets, you should have seen the look on that horses face. :eek: :eek:
hahhahahahha..yeah, ol' Ransom ain't used to taking it in the ass, and the bull head already had his nostrils flared a little :D ......and once penetration was acquired...IT WAS ON!!!! :eek:

We respected his imposition and gave him his space and plenty of time to calm down before continuing the loading process....but he did let us put the head on his back and he drug it back the several miles to camp......but it was "touch and go" there for a few minutes :D
That was a great ending to a scary start. Congrats on the animals and having a safe trip home.. :D
Deerslayer & Anaconda:

Sounds like a great adventure. Hope you had good sleeping bags and maybe some antifreeze. Congratulations on your success.

KC......Anaconda's bag was a lot better than mine. Mine is good to zero......I actually packed out and got two more to use on top of the one I had...then I was fine ;)
See my sleeping bag review in the outdoor gear & product reviews section.

The first night, it was about - 8% and I wore thermals & heavy socks to bed. Twenty min. later I was up taking them off because I was too hot to sleep

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 11-14-2002 09:30: Message edited by: Anaconda ]</font>
It was a lot of hunt for sure Ernie....

Hey 'bout the time I stood up in the middle of the night to strectch...only to be just in time to catch the collapsing tent on muy head! :eek: ....with more than a foot of fresh snow on it.....I think it was designed to be used as a summer tent :D

....and when we left the gumbo boiling to go look over the edge of the canyon at waning light....only to come back 10 minutes later to a pot of black schit un-recognizable that my dog wouldn't have eaten it! :rolleyes:

..or when the snow chains failed on one tire and tore loose and ripped half the front of my truck off!!!!!!....we were dragging schit all the way back to town and eveytime I tried to turn right the wheel jammed......

......crawling in a hotel room at 2am only to rise and shine at 6......

......trying to park a horse trailor in the Taco Bell parking lot and doing some minor paint swapping with others ;)

.......driving over 60 miles looking for a place that sold horse feed because horse weren't kept in the "Springs" .......what?!....I thought every place in the west had horses! :mad:

....chasing horses down in the wilderness after they decided "close-range rapid gunfire" wasn't for them! :D ......

...following Ds on a "scouting forray" while he kept saying "one more more hill"......and it ended up with Dan turning around in a hell-hole about 4 miles in and DS making a 12 mile loop through the dark side.....but that was where we rode the next morn and Dan shot his cow and bull ;)

All things considered......everything went just like we planned it :cool:
Ok, my elk story......

After DS tagged out, the pressure was on. We decited to do something different, and followed fresh elk tracks into a canyon that was as ugly as it gets. 45% sides, thick timber and deadfalls every where. The icy trail lead down and down. I posted up after a few miles, but DS keep going. I never saw an elk that day, but back at camp, Mark was excited about what he had seen. After studing topo maps for a while, he ask me if I was up for a ten mile horseback ride ?
Hell yes, lets do it !
The next morning, we saddeled up at 4:15 am and headed out on a long ride two hours before dawn. Rideing by starlight, over ridges and through thick timber in fresh powder snow. Dawn found us near the rim of a half circle cannyon, stripped with aspen draws. DS had seen it on his hike the day before, and was sure it was a place to fill an elk tag.
I stayed up high and hunted side hill, trying to catch some elk feeding up from below, while DS dropped to the bottem, looking for muledeer & scouting for future hunts. I slowly worked my way around the rim, seeing lots of tracks. When I got near the far side, I started glassing my back trail, and spotted a small herd heading up way back where I had started. I could see there was one legal bull, several cows and two yearlings. I would have to move fast to catch them before the made it over the rim.
Quickly and quietly, I headed back past the horses to the draw I had seen them in.
As I moved through it, I could see patches of brown moving below me, but the timber was to thick to see what was what. I snuk along till I found a good shooting lane and waited. A big cow with no calf steeped into the opening, and I took the shot. The cow dropped in her tracks, and the rest of them took off up hill. I spotted antlers, a 4X4 and had to run up about fourty yds to find another open lane. Cow, calf, cow, calf, antlers....KA-Boom ! I hit him a bit far back, through the liver/spleen area. He went down but started to get back up. The only shot I had now was legs, so I took out a front leg and he went down again. One more in the neck put him out for good, I wasn't taking any chances on him makeing it to the ridge and dropping into that canyon from yesterday.
The pack put was real tough, thats a lot of elk down a long ways from camp. It took the rest of the day and well into the night, but we got it all out and back to camp. The last load featured my bulls head strapped to my saddel with the antlers pointed at my back. Everything was fine till we started heading down hill into camp. The head shifted foward and with each step, I got poked. When Austin (my horse)saw camp he jumped off the trail and headed cross country down the steep part with me yelling all the way....ouch, ouch slow down you #%@&* horse :eek:

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 11-14-2002 22:54: Message edited by: Anaconda ]</font>
Yea, we packed about five years worth of hunting stories into a one week hunt. There was never a dull moment.
The fact is, ther are four or five more really good stories, but I've been sworn to secrecy.

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