My party and I were lucky enough to get drawn for first rifle season this year in Colorado. After planning, scouting, practicing, and planning some more over the summer it was finally here!
We got to our camp Thursday afternoon and quickly set up our tents and gear, then myself and one other member went to a near by ridge and started glassing the valley and adjacent ridge line. To our surprise we saw ten elk that evening grazing in some lower meadows, one of witch was a unknown size bull. Right at dark we heard a shrill bugle from the bull below and I think at that moment is when I was "hooked"! I don't think I slept at all that night. The next morning we were in the same spot glassing and saw about 5-6 cows and one nice bull, probably a 5x5 working the adjacent ridge line. We studied the paths they took and decided that was were we wanted to be opening morning. That evening we seen 5 or 6 more elk down in the lower meadows but none of them could change our minds about hunting the far ridge the next morning. That evening it started snowing as I am sure it did for a lot of the hunters this year, and we woke at 3 am opening morning to about 4 inches of snow in camp. We all dug though our gear to get to the emergency thermals, it was not suppose to be that cold... Damn weather men! After a quick breakfast and a little coffee, we were off by about 3:45.
Still snowing and blowing pretty good we tried to make our way down to the valley and across to the ridge we planned on hunting. Needless to say that is harder than it looks from a high ridge though a spotting scope! After almost 3 miles of up and down, and around we got on the ridge we wanted and started side hilling to our spot. By this time it was about 6:30 and I whispered to my partner "do you want to hunt this ridge, or try and keep going like we planned?" After a quick nature calls break we decided to go about 200 yards further to a aspen grove witch was about 1/4 mile short of were we intended to be. As I crested the next hill I was meet by about 6 elk hauling down the hill side in front of me and my heart sank, I though we were too late. I called for my partner to hurry and told him to post on the left edge of the draw they ran down and I went about 40 yards further to the right side. I found a tree to sit up against and started to get my range finder, binoculars and warm hat out of my day pack intending to start glassing for our next move. Before I could even open my binocular case I heard something running at me, there it was a lone bull! It was about 5 mins after shooting light and it was still snowing as he trotted up the draw opposite me. I raised my gun found him in the scope and while I was trying to count points he stopped in a small clearing about 110 yards away. Sure enough he was defiantly legal, I let my browning 270 buck and when I got him back in the scope he was laying in his tracks dead! It happened so fast that it hit me only after I saw him laying there what had just happened. My partner came sneaking over asking what had happened and all I could do was point and smile. We shook hands and crossed the draw to my bull, as we approached I realized he was bigger than I had though and was in fact a beautiful 6x6. My first ever elk, I didn't think it could get much better!
As we were admiring my bull both of us still in shock we heard running down the ridge above us and turned to see 4 elk running down to us, as they emerged from the aspens it was 3 spike bulls and a calve. I whispered to my partner " you could shoot that calve." He answered with "no I want to wait", witch turns out to be a good choice. About 10 mins after that while still taking in what had just happened about 15-18 cows, calves, and a small bull or two came up the creek bottom below us and stopped in an aspen grove about 100 yards away. We were both sitting with our backs against my bull trying to find my partner a clean shot on a big cow, when from the back of the group came another big bull!! All I could say was "that is a shooter!" He reached the other elk, stopped and presented a broadside shot at 112 yards, the gun rang out and down went the bull, about 5 steps from where he was shot! Now we were really in a state of shock, two bulls down 112 yards apart 30 mins after shooting light opening morning! It could have been a dream. As we arrived at the second bull we were happy to see it was a 5x5 and a very big animal to boot, my partners first big game kill! I pulled a small thermos of coffee out of my day pack and said " I don't think there is a better place in all the world to have a hot cup of coffee!" We sat on the hillside admiring our elk while the sun began to break though the falling snow knowing full well we had more work ahead of us than we cared to think about but it didn’t matter.
That evening my father in law shot a nice big cow only a few hundred yards from camp followed by another cow the next afternoon by my mother in law only a 1/4 mile from there. When it was all said and done we had 4 elk for 5 hunters and that was more than any of us could have expected, we left there with full coolers, smiles on our faces, and dreams of next season!