Finally... I Got an Elk!

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After a number of years of living in Colorado and buying an elk license with no success in killing one and rarely even seeing them while hunting I decided it was time for a new plan. I had never even held a cow tag as up till that point I had not yet read or learned about the application process. I started reading more magazines and the big game guide put out by the DOW. Everything I read or heard people talking about seemed to say that if you could get a late season tag you were nearly guaranteed a cow elk just standing around in the snow waiting for you to get there. 

I poured over the regulations and finally found the nearest late season I could hunt in a public land unit within fairly easy driving distance from home. We sent in our applications as this was back when you still had to write checks and then wait for word to arrive in the mail as to whether or not you were successful. I didn't know the odds but they must have been pretty good as before too long my dad and I found out that we were in fact successful. It was tough to wait till after the regular seasons were over for the late one to start but before long the time was here and we were on our way.

The first thing we found out is that things were not nearly as easy as we had been led to believe and we spent our first few days off just driving around and looking for the elk that were supposed to be waiting. We did have a few memorable experiences before we ever found any elk that helped to make the hunts exciting and unforgettable. I had some of my first off road learning experiences with my old 77 Blazer that I had bought for just such an occasion. In driving through a washout on an old road I charged in without getting a good look at things and found myself hung up on both bumpers on either side of the wash out. All four wheels were literally hanging in the air and we could only get 2 of them to touch the ground at one time by rocking the truck to one side. By using my high lift jack we were able to hoist the other side up and build up some rocks under the tires until when ready I romped on the gas and shot out of the hole I had gotten us into.

On the next trip out I got the chance to take a shot at my first coyote that was sitting up on a dirt bank out in the middle of a clearing. I fired one shot with my dads 7 mag at around 150 yards and watched my first coyote do a back flip into the snow. It took me nearly ten minutes to trudge out there, pick him up, throw him over my shoulder and head back to the truck. The surprise came when after I got back to the truck where my dad was waiting. I threw him onto the ground for some picture taking and to brag to my dad when the darn thing started growling. He had never made a sound or moved till he thumped on the ground but it sure gave me a scare as I had even had my hand in his mouth carrying him back. A quick shot with a .22 pistol put an end to things but I have always been much more careful ever since.

It was a week after that with some more snow on the ground that we finally got into some elk. I was using chains on all four tires by that time but the extra snow pushed elk into the area we were hunting quickly. We spotted some fresh tracks crossing the road so we loaded up and took off after them to see where they went. It was only about 30 minutes  and a quarter mile later that we caught up with them. My shot was about 300 yards as the small herd headed up the opposite hillside. I carefully made sure there were no antlers in my scope and started firing at the last one in line. If I remember right I fired 2 shots and thought I had missed completely. But as always we headed over to make sure and take a look around and much to my surprise found my first elk piled up behind a tree. 

As with all my other first animals I had somehow managed to find and shoot the smallest one in the bunch. It was only a calf but in late December it was still larger than any deer I had ever taken. After checking things out we found the old forest service road was only 100 yards away at the top of the hill. That made things a much easier job than we thought it would be. That's the only calf I have ever killed and while every elk is good I remember that one as being the best tasting of any I have gotten since then.

My dad took his first elk the next day just a short distance from where I got mine. For some reason he always made sure we got a picture of mine but almost never of his so that one is only in memory.

We hunted the same area the next few years but the snow never came as heavy and we eventually gave it up as we didn't even see any after that. We have gotten better over the years with what we learned and are able to keep it closer to home. Still not super successful but we do manage to get one every year or so.


ManOfTheFall's picture

Great story, I really enjoyed

Great story, I really enjoyed it. I know the hunting part of the story is always great but it's the other little things that sometimes make it so much more memorable. How could anyone ever forget getting your vehicle hung up the way you did. I bet you guys still gat a laugh out of that one. Then you get to take out a coyote and after you bring him back to the truck he is still growling at you. I'm sure that was enough to make your hair stand on end. I once had a raccoon in a trap. I thought I had killed him with my club. It was actually the first coon I had ever trapped. I took him back to my grandpa's house in a burlap sack to show my grandpa. he said to me why is the bag still moving, you should have killed him. So, grandpa gets the 22 and puts one through his head. I carried that darn coon probably a 1/2 mile back to the house and it never moved. oh well that is definitely one I will never forget. Congratulations on your first elk and thanks for sharing your story. 

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Yeah, the coyote part was

Yeah, the coyote part was funny.  I actually had one run up in front of my stand one time, and pick up a scent canister in it's teeth.  Kinda funny.

Great story, and a couple of nice looking animals.  I have only been out for elk one time, in Oregon about 10 years ago, but even though I didn't get one, I had a blast.  i am trying to plan a hunt to Colorado next fall for a combo deer and elk hunt, and I cannot wait!

Thanks for the story!  I assume that you were hunting with your Dad, since it says that he shot his close to yours???  If so, that's even more special!

hunter25's picture

Yup, that year like nearly

Yup, that year like nearly every other my dad was right there with me. He just seems to have a way of staying out of most of the pictures which is strange since he has always made sure that he took them of my animals.

Retired2hunt's picture

  I couldn't help but laugh


I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I read the coyote growled at you.  That right there would have left a mess in my pants!  Great story on your first Elk.  300 yard shot on your first Elk harvest is impressive.  I can only hope that I fill that cow tag of mine this year and get that over with.  Thanks for sharing!




GooseHunter Jr's picture

Man I know how you feel I

Man I know how you feel I followed my dad around the woods for years before I was old enough to hunt and then when I could start to hunt our area went to the toliet and we finally had to make a move after a good number of years of almost no encounters.  we  made a move a just like that I killed my first elk a cow.  man the weight of the world was liffled off me and the flood gates opened.  Congrats and thanks for sharing the story.