Colorado Muzzleloader Cow Elk Hunt
Boncarbo, Colorado, Unit 85 Cow Elk.
This morning I headed out bright and early to start my 4th season Colorado Cow Elk hunt. I was able to locate a bunch of tracks of deer and elk. Close to 4PM I had gone back to the area after a break and a nap at home and started back up to where I had seen some deer early this morning, along with millions of deer tracks and darn good number of elk tracks.
I had been keeping my eye open on a certain area where I had seen the deer and as I was sneaking through the trees and brush, I took a knee to look under some oak brush before heading out into the open where i was going to set up under a tree.
I knelt down, looked around my area, and my eyes had drifted upwards to the side of the mountain that was directly in front of me. Half way up all i see are dark brown/black/tan bodies on the side of the mountain.
I set the double triggers on my CVA .54 cal Big Bore Mountain Rifle.
All 6 cow elk had me pinned down and knew I was there.
I had a good deal of cover to work with and I slipped back the way I come and slowly worked my way through a boulder/oak brush/cedar tree infested area until I came up to a good area where I could take the shot. Five of the elk had started getting nervous and started to turn around in circles, walk away a bit then stop and turn back towards me.
I dropped down on to a big clump of dirt and pulled back the hammer and picked out my elk. She had just turned to face up the mountain and so I took aim at the top of her back and squeezed the trigger.
The slight breeze in my face was strong enough to blow the smoke away quickly and allowed for a clear view of my target.
After the shot I saw her hunch up and slowly walk up the side of the mountain and I watched her until she got into some thick cedar/ponderosa pines. I reloaded the Mountain Rifle and hiked back down to the truck and drove 10 minutes back home to pick up my brother for help, along with an axe and a saw. I had pulled the trigger on her a little before 4:30PM and we got back to the base of the mountain a little after 5PM with the gear.
I didn't bother going directly to where I shot her, I saw where she had run to and I knew we'd be able to cut fresh tracks and hopefully some blood. Half way up the mountain we stopped for a break and I asked my brother if he could smell that. He was like, smell what? I said, That strong musky odor. He couldn't, but it was a very strong smell for me.
We started up after a few minutes and again I stopped and asked him if he can smell it yet, very, very strong musky scent. Nope... We get up to an area that's thick with oak brush and cut tracks! Two trails of torn up tracks to be exact. My brother and I split up and I told him to go slow and quiet. I took to the trail leading up the mountain and I hadn't gone 8 feet when I spot a silver dollar size spot of blood on the fallen leaves on the ground. I call out to my brother and he comes running up and as I do the tracking. My brother stays behind looking ahead of me as a look-out.
We go a couple feet and there's just a line of blood on the ground and then it stops, pours out again, stops.... Nothing on the ground for a good 6 feet and then I spot small splatters of blood on the tall oak brush and slowly started to scan the brush for more blood.
My brother called out and said, "Is that a leg I see sticking up behind that tree?" I couldn't see anything and so I told him to go ahead and check it out while I wait in the area so I don't lose the blood trail.
My brother starts out and all I hear is, holy crap its a friggin horse!! I go running up and find my cow elk lying on her side with her legs straight up in the air! She had gotten wedged between some oak when she had fallen over dead.
We were all celebrating and looking her over and we grabbed her legs and rolled her so I could take a look at the shot.
My shot had drifted 2" left of where I had been aiming and the 224gr home-cast .530 round ball had dropped a good 9". I was sighted in 2" high @ 100 yards and this much drop tells me it was a LONG SHOT! It was a high lung shot that went through both lungs and tore the tops apart badly. No meat was ruined! The entrance shot was twice the diameter of an unfired .530 round ball. I had estimated the distance to be 130 yards.
Five days later I was able to range the actual shot and it was 140 yards. This was my first elk with a muzzle loader and I look forward to the next elk!
I wasn't able to recover the round ball as it was almost dark out and the temp was getting in the mid 30's and dropping quick.
We had a choice, either 1/4 the elk and spend a LONG night traveling with meat or do it my way, cut the sucker in half and drag it down through the brush and rocks. We got it done in a little over an hour and a half. It was a complete nightmare going down that mountain with only moonlight and following water runoff ditches, but we got it done and loaded into the back of the truck.
My blood was pumping hard from the hunt and taking the elk, I went down a good 20 feet flat on my back in one area and got right back up and ran back up to my rear half and started dragging her again. A bruised/scratched up shoulder, torn up hands and a sore back was an awakening call that this really was happening and I wasn't dreaming!
It took the 2 of us to lift each half into the bed of the truck, a good 400+ lbs gutted.
The .530 Round ball and 80gr Pyrodex RS, did an amazing job for the distance it had traveled and the excellent job it did at putting her down within 60 yards of where she was hit.
One thing I am very thankful for, besides shooting the elk, was that I was smart enough to change out of my hooded Wool Capote and boot moccasins! There were some jagged rocks that hurt like a son of a gun with my regular hunting boots on!