Got back this weekend from the 4th season elk hunt. The old man and I had either sex tags up in northwestern colorado. We got there Thursday evening in order to start our hunt on Friday. Friday was windy as can be and we didn't see any elk - let alone much sign of them. The wind was really making things difficult. Finally on Friday evening we found a location with a few tracks and some promising layout.
That evening is snowed a bunch (made me happy), and we were the first ones to the mountain. There weren't many hunters out at all which suprised me. We started up a little two-track that is nasty and stopped for a moment to glass the hills. I spotted a group of 4 elk up at the top of a small clearing about to cross over the ridge. We tried to get further up the road but ended up wrapping the truck around a tree it was so nasty.
I got out and huffed it up the adjacent ridge with my dad going up the other. Up top one of the elk suddenly busted out in front of me in the junipers. I didn't have a shot but kept pursuing the tracks that were easily sighted in the fresh snow. I follwed them down the ridge on the back side and then crossed over to a new gully. As I crested over the adjacent ridge I saw the four of them across the gully at 250 yds or so. They were working their way up the next ridge. I fired on a the largest cow of the group - but didn't get the greatest shot due to distance and the way she was positioned.They crossed over the adjacent ridge and I pursued once again - noticing a small and faint blood trail when I arrived at the location where I shot.
Ending up following them over 2 more ridges / gully's before they ended up on the back side of the whole mountain (about 2-3 miles from where I started) and 3 of them were on the edge of the sagebrush by the junipers at the base. Little did I know there was a small 4wd track down in the sage and a truck rumbled up with the elk crossing right in front of them. They jumped out the truck and and from my vantage point (should have looked through the binos), it looked like they shot downwards towards my direction. They immediately jumped back in their truck and left.
Being thoroughly confused, I thought as I only saw 3 elk run across and as they had shot downwards and waved up to me that they may have finished off my wounded elk for me. However, I wasn't sure whether the sage below was private or public as there is private that skirts the sides. I decided to hike back to where my dad was after marking the location with the GPS. We got down the hill and drove back to the road where I had seen the other hunters. They were back there and turns out the shot had been at the other 3 elk crossing the sage. They had never seen the 4th elk that I had wounded. So I found the tracks, hiked back up the ridge and found where the wounded elk had split off from the other 3. I followed the tracks about 50 yards and jumped her out of the junipers, shot and ended the hunt. She got the last laugh by falling down the ridge 20 feet and wrapping her body around a juniper tree in the gully.
All in all, a great hunt. Was alot of work getting her out of there but was well worth the persaverance of keeping on their tracks. Can't beat a freezer full of elk meat!