There is a chance that i got the first legal bull of the 2010 hunting season yesterday morning. When i drew this tag back in April, I had visions of many back and forth trips from Fort Collins to the Western Slope and hunting the entire season. Never did I even dream it would all come together so fast.
I left Fort Collins on Thursday night and stayed the night in Denver at my parents house. Figured 70 miles on Thursday is 70 miles i dont have to drive on Friday. The plan was to leave early on Friday so that I could back pack in a ways and be amongst the Elk for opening morning. Never did a plan work so well.
I finally got to my hunting area and left my truck at around 300pm. The plan was to hike til dark, til I found elk, or til I hit a certain meadow that I have been to before over my summer scouting trips. Two of the three happened right about the same time. I had covered a mile or two of rolling aspen and dense lodge pole pine stands and it was starting to get to the point that I needed to find a place to stay the night. A few yards later i found an aspen that had just been torn up by a bull and the areas where the bark was stripped was still wet. I looked up the tree and realized that the highest scrapes were a good foot and a half above my head. All i could think was i wanted to find this bull.
I decided to walk a little further and see what I could find. Scrape after scrape and wallow after wallow filled the next 200 yards. Then I heard a loud crack. I looked up and about 100 yards away was what I was looking for. The bull was tearing up every bush and tree he could get his head to. I watched that bull and admired him from a distance with my binos til dark. I had decided to back off a ways and stay the night in a meadow I crossed earlier. No cooking (too much smell), No setting up my tarp (too much noise), and every attempt not to use the restroom was the recipe for my night. I pulled out my pad and sleeping bag and just slept under the stars.
The word slept is quite relative. I maybe slept an hour two the whole night. Bulls were breaking branches in the moonlight all around me. There must have been 3 or 4 of them in all directions. At one point i even had three elk in my meadow under 100 yards away. One was raking a bush but i couldnt tell how big he was and there was no way i was turning on my headlamp to see. This continued all night and needless to say, the morning couldnt come soon enough.
I got out of my sleeping bag about a half hour before shooting light. The bull i saw the night before was in the same spot and was still breaking branches left and right. I saw it as a chance to sneak up on him in the moonlight and be within range come civil twilight. It worked I topped a little drainage and could see the brush moving from where he was asserting his dominance. I ranged an aspen tree where I expected him to step out, 33 yards. I nocked an arrow, settled down and got ready. No more than a minute later he stepped out put his head down to rake the ground and I drew, settled my pin on his vitals and released. The arrow hit with a hard thwack and I immediately saw blood pouring out of the wound. He stood there for a couple seconds, started to stumble, then went on a death run as fast as he could for maybe two or three hundred yards through the timber. I heard one last good crash then the forest went silent. I had my First archery animal, my first solo hunt, my first back pack hunt, and my first record book bull.
After waiting half an hour I followed the blood trail and found my bull. That is when the work really started. Quartering an elk on your own is quite the task especially when he weighed north of 700 pounds on the hoof. I got him quartered and made my first trip back to my truck. Looking at the map I realized that there was a trail not too terribly far away and that I could get the meat to the trail and contact my friend in town to help with the rest. My friend, Sam and his brother, Paul showed up and we got the rest of him out by about 4 o'clock. After washing up at Sams house and calling my family it was time to make the mad dash back to Denver to show everyone.
Hope you enjoyed the story and the pics. Good luck to everyone in the upcoming seasons.