The Season of Stupid (& elk)

MtnElk

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May 17, 2022
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Conifer CO
“It’s the season of elk bro!” - was the text I got from Mt Muley 😉🤣 Just kidding… and don’t ever call him bro.

But that was an actual text I got when I opened my phone from my hunting partner / mentor @Dsnow9, as the tag dust settled on the morning of June 15, when we both woke up to zero WY pronghorn tags. Seemingly striking out in every state on everything except elk; between us, there are 6 elk tags in two states, in units that are easier to draw and hard to hunt. If all goes well, I’ll need a second freezer by the end of the season and will be able to give meat to families around us that don’t hunt, but love elk.

I was introduced to D$ through HT, randomly enough on a thread about tree cutting, as we needed some fire mitigation done and he had a tree company. We met when he came up to give me a quote just before fall season. We chatted about hunting, our kids, and the joys of fire risk in Colorado. Despite being pretty damn green, I believe D$ realized over time I was willing to put in the hard work to learn and get better at hunting elk. He - and some other awesome HTers - even stayed in contact during last years goat rodeo of hunts (link below) in which I got food poisoning 2 days into 1st season and my daughter got really sick 3 days in 3rd. My hunts were cut short, but damn if it wasn’t exciting as hell. I realized I waited too f-ing long to get into elk hunting, but that this was a great first season of learning hard truths.

https://www.hunttalk.com/threads/mtnelks-season-of-firsts-tag-soup-edition.315822/

After the season concluded with a desperately empty freezer, we kept in touch and chatted on what we were each going after in 2023. He was going all in on Elk in WY, and my plan was to be a stubborn moron and go back to my 2022 barren wasteland of a CO unit and try again. I do not think that idea went over well with him lol. As we continued talking, it became more and more apparent he thought I was an idiot for even thinking of going back there, so he strongly encouraged (in his words “forced”) me to apply in another CO unit this fall and join him. At that point, he told me to go crazy on the unit in OnX and send him some waypoints. Which in terms of mentorship, was an awesome approach; because I wanted to make sure I was earning my keep to justify this invite and also wanted to show I was not a complete moron.

Our Colorado apps in, we then decided to put in for longs shots in the random of NM and UT, in the off chance we got really lucky. We group applied for WY pronghorn and well, based on the intro, you know we only drew elk tags in CO and WY cow tags. As much fun as the anticipation of drawing a tag is, it’s so much more fun to have the tags and then get to planning dates, type of hunt, campsites, scouting, etc. Once we both lost out on the awesome RMBS RFW Elk tag and our secondary apps in WY and CO approved, our season was set.

It’s amazing the little things one can learn just by listening to a more seasoned hunter talk - even when they are not giving direct advice. The ability to share the waypoints I’ve e-scouted and get feedback on them has probably been the greatest boost to my confidence going into 2023. I left last years hunt feeling like all my time studying elk, learning about behaviors, pouring over maps was a complete failure. In e-scouting a new unit and sharing it with someone that had been there, it was great to see that my e-scouting was often in areas where there have been elk in the past. I realize all the best laid plans in the world can fail miserably, but I feel like I’ll be more fluid in my decision making processes this time around. Having a solid mentor has meant all the difference.

For now though, back to fishing with my dad in northern Manitoba. But will update when I am back and the scouting begins. Going to be an epic season chasing elk, hauling elk out of not so fun spots, and throwing a nice rack on top of the Subaru for all the haters 😎
 
Finally back in the motherland of CO and back at season prep, with the first hunt 65 days away. Today I set out to explore an area that we are not hunting, but decided to test some of my e-scouting / elk education prowess and see if I could locate areas that hold elk. I picked a unit about two hours away that I could get to, scout and place some trails cams. One of the areas was ripe with elk and moose sign in April, which made me worry is was just a wintering ground or transition from the wintering ground area. But I was pleasantly surprised to have two moose on the cams when I checked the first area

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After reviewing the rest of the data, I decided to remove this cam as all it has shown me in the last 4 months has been moose activity including calves. Great to see, but now what I am after these days. I picked up and moved on to my next spot, which was an area that was about 5 miles back from the parking lot, a tucked in meadow surrounded by heavy timber. This spot was covered in blow down, with a creek that runs around it and the water has been flowing heavily here in Colorado this year. Which side note - the mosquitos are $*)Q!#@$ awful this year. Feels like I am back in Minnesota. Can't stand it. but after being eaten alive. I was approaching the area when this little guy scared the crap out of me. But he didn't fly at me - which was a relief after basically being hit in the face by a grouse during my hunt last year.

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After collecting myself and swatting a bunch of mosquitos off of me, I made it to the other trail cam to find a gold mine of elk activity. Way more than I expected. So much so, that because of two days of high winds and so many elk vids, the SD card was full. A lesson that checks every couple of weeks is in order. I quickly erased the SD card of the other cam, popped it in this one and starting hiking back to the lot. Getting ready to work on some longer range shooting (for me, certainly not far by any other measure) I started re-listening to this two part podcast recommended by @Dsnow9

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Once I got home I got a chance to go through the footage and was pleasantly surprised at the quality already coming along in these bulls in June. But even more so happy to see that my e-scouting wasn't completely off, and that for this brief moment, I am not a completely useless Elk hunter.

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But this video is the funniest to me. This young bull was really curious about the camera and got all up in its face (if you look closely you can see his eyes)

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All in all, was a wicked fun morning hiking about 10 miles, getting great elk footage to watch - and then learn from - and a tiny boost of confidence going into the fall season. Next week I am headed to our CO unit to see what kind of animals are around and hopefully identify a few nice bulls in there.
 
Definitely following along on this one!! and @Dsnow9 you did share a little bit of hunting of when you almost got struck by lightning!
 
While I agree that this is going to be a great thread. I'm going to do ask a very serious question. I want to on record and say both of you are extremely entertaining and I enjoy many of your posts.

Now for the question:

Who is supervising the two of you?

And I am calling dibs on being SwaggyD's cohost for the simulated bear attack game in the event (pray for goodness and safety to follow you both).
 
While I agree that this is going to be a great thread. I'm going to do ask a very serious question. I want to on record and say both of you are extremely entertaining and I enjoy many of your posts.

Now for the question:

Who is supervising the two of you?

And I am calling dibs on being SwaggyD's cohost for the simulated bear attack game in the event (pray for goodness and safety to follow you both).
As of right now we are currently accepting applications.
 
While I agree that this is going to be a great thread. I'm going to do ask a very serious question. I want to on record and say both of you are extremely entertaining and I enjoy many of your posts.

Now for the question:

Who is supervising the two of you?

And I am calling dibs on being SwaggyD's cohost for the simulated bear attack game in the event (pray for goodness and safety to follow you both).
We asked @wllm but his reply was “I’ve already got one child to take care of… two more seems like a lot” not sure what he meant by that 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

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