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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well this last two weeks have been full of a lot of ups followed by a lot of downs and frankly I don’t know where to start this story. My buddy Justin and I left the evening of September 11th and headed towards Colorado with an Archery Bull tag in my pocket. We drove through the night and the following day to where we would stay with my grandfather overnight in Salida, Colorado before heading up to elk camp the following day.

Friday 09/13 Justin wasn’t feeling well so instead of heading up the mountain we decided to go to the ER. After the doctor analyzed him he determined Justin had food poisoning and from the amount he was vomiting the night before the doctor pumped him with a bunch of fluids and gave him a nice cocktail. Once we were done with that we headed for elk camp. That evening my grandfather and I packed up elk camp while we left Justin at the truck to acclimate to the altitude and hopefully feel better. Once we got up to camp, we pitched the tents, cut wood, and I went wondering around the mountain until dark. To get a feel of the mountain and where I can and can’t hunt do to the terrain.

Saturday 09/14 my grandfather and I walked back down the mountain to check on Justin and also grab the rest of my food for the rest of the 10 days followed by also carrying Justin’s pack/sleeping bag along with my food up the mountain. (picture below)

Sunday 09/15 was my first full day of hunting… This day was full of ups and downs with emotions. I decided to leave the camp and head NE about 200 feet in elevation and about 300 yards from camp. Around 6:25am I let out a few soft cow call followed by a bugle ending with a chuckle. About 5 minutes after that I hear a small twig snapped and I see a spike at roughly 15 yards (video). Well after video this spike I noticed a 5x5 bull was coming in behind him. I kept cow calling and the bull kept coming until the wind changed and the spike got a whiff of me. The spike ended up running off and the 5x5 ran to about 43 yards. I drew back settle my “35 yard” pin in the heart region, squeezed of the released and watched the lighted nock go just below him. This happened so fast I didn’t know whether to be pissed at myself or what but I ended up just laughing it off.

After confirming that was a clean miss I worked my way up the mountain gaining another 200 feet in elevation. I reached what was a nice aspen opening that offered me a shot up hill and knowing how bull elk can be an aggressive they always like to take the high ground and come down hill versus working uphill. Around 7:30 am I let out the same calling sequence as before and a 300”+ class 6X6 comes walking in pissed off, raking tree after tree. I grab a big of stick and start doing the same, raking followed by some challenge bugles. Boy did it get this bull fired up in the sense he wanted to kick my ass, which was weird because none of these bulls were bugling. Well this ole boy gave me a chance at a shot, I ranged him for 43 yards, dialed my sight, drew back and released…. Miss!! WTF!! Well after he ran off and I analyzed the shot from where he stood the bull was actually 53 yards. My rangefinder picked up a small aspen in front of him and not the actual bull. The evening hunt I ended up calling in a 5x5 but he wouldn’t come closer than 130 yards.

The next three days I hunted hard. Over the course of fours actual days of hunting I logged on OnX 44.3 miles and probably since Friday I hiked over 55 close to 60 miles. So I averaged about 10 miles a day and if I had to guess my total elevation gained (OnX app) was roughly 10,000-12,000 feet and the total elevation descended over these days was 10,000-12,000 feet. My feet weren’t bad but boy were they hurting.

Wednesday evening we decided to come off the mountain and head to town. After speaking with numerous other hunters none of them have heard any bulls. The full moon was messing with the rut and the cows were not in estrous yet. This week honestly would have been the best week to be up there. So with that we decided to pack up and head home not out of defeat but more on a well-educated decision.

Which honestly I am glad we headed back early because this weekend my father in law got in a serious motorcycle accident. The family and I have been at the hospital all weekend and all this week. I don’t want to turn this to a sad story but if I am mentioning it can I please ask for y’alls prayers because it is not looking good. Sorry I got side tracked there.

With everything on this elk hunt here is what I learned for future elk hunts:
- For 10 days, if you have good clothing, you only needs one shirt, one pair of pants, three pair of underwear, three-four pairs of merino socks, and you insulating layers.
- A 3 pin slider sight would have been way more beneficial than my 2 pin slider.
- Stay mobile, only take provisions in the back country for 3 days and leave everything else in the truck, if you aren’t on elk move to another area.
- Take a pistol with you. Even though my grandfather kept saying I didn’t need to because of the 30 years he has hunted he has only seen 2 bears. Well this hunt we had a bear come in camp and I ended up in a standoff with a sow and some cubs while elk calling. So next year I will have a Glock 20 with me.
- Have a solid communication system
- If you miss as much as me bring lots of arrows and broadheads lol

But for a unit that has one of the lowest success rates in the state of Colorado I would definitely call this whole hunt a win for us.

(Pictures are in no particular order)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
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What unit were you hunting in?
Unit 45. But mostly all the units by Vail (45,44,444, and 47) have had all their cow tags pulled because the elk herd has suffered a terrible loss over the last three winters. This year was the first in many years where hunters could not buy a cow or either sex archery tag. Also all rifle and muzzleloader cow tags have been pulled for the same reasons.

But it's very rough and probably one of the hardest units to hunt in Colorado in regards to miles put on foot to get an opportunity at an elk. I think I just had beginners luck on Sunday.
 

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Nice, one of these days I'm gonna rifle hunt elk in 581.
 

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good read!! prayers for your father in law
hopefully next year will be better!
 
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