Triple Sixes: Do-It-Yourself Colorado Hunt

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Six bulls, six bucks in six days, a successful Colorado do-it-yourself hunt on a budget!

New York State residents, Dan and Janet Wescott, had been hunting together almost as long as they had been married. They had been on both guided hunts and do-it-yourself hunts and the results from the guided hunts were impressive and are mounted in their living room. The do-it-yourself hunts on public land turned out to be unimpressive and more times than not they returned home tired and empty handed. It wasn't from a lack of hunting skill. The problem was hunter density, which turned out to be higher than animal density.

Dan felt they could do well if they hunted private land without a guide. They didn't really need a guide. They needed land to hunt with a reasonable number of deer or elk. When a friend at work asked if they would like to go to Colorado for a DIY (do-it-yourself) hunt with four other folks, the clincher was the location. The hunt would take place on private land without a guide, just the situation they had been looking for. The access fee of $2000.00 provided 8,500-prime acres of Colorado backcountry loaded with deer and elk. They would be sharing the ranch with six other hunters but after opening day, as people filled their tags, seeing other hunters would become less frequent. Under these conditions Dan and Janet quickly agreed.

Their lodging would be in a KOA campground or motel in Hayden, or Craig, Colorado, which ended talk about hauling a large wall tent and cooking paraphernalia cross-country. They would eat at restaurants and carry a sack lunch so they wouldn't have to worry about buying food and the hunt was just a 20-minute drive from town.

The day before the hunt the six hunters were shown the property boundaries and where to find the best bucks on the property. The elk were migrating through the area and could show up anytime, anywhere.

Opening day was dry and quiet and finding no elk and a few small deer was discouraging. The plan for day two was to hunt the north end of the ranch, which was more out of the way. It had fewer roads with steeper hills and draws making vehicle travel more difficult. They had just entered the area when Janet spotted a nice 4x4 buck slipping through the sagebrush. The buck was feeding and watching for danger and little did they know he was looking for a quiet place to spend the day.

Dan and Janet quickly left the truck and started to belly crawl toward the buck. Even while dodging cactus patches they were doing well, until they ran out of cover. They needed to take the shot but with nothing to use for Janet's rifle rest Dan lay crossways to provide a solid rest as Janet aligned the scope. While Dan held his breath Janet settled the cross hairs of the .257 Roberts on the buck's shoulder and the crack of the rifle was quickly followed by the thud of the bullet hitting the buck 140-yards away. The buck jumped and made a 100-yard dash then collapsed. The success lifted their spirits prompting Dan to comment, "This area of the ranch seems to have more game than where we were yesterday."

Once back in the vehicle they drove to a high point to glass and soon Dan spotted a small herd of elk crossing the north fence coming onto the ranch. Driving close to where he thought the elk would reappear, after dropping into a draw, Dan and Janet jumped out of the truck and ran to a position with good visibility to wait for the elk.

The herd soon appeared about 200-yards away passing left to right. Dan said, "Take the last one; it is a legal bull." As the bull stopped to wait for a cow in front of him, Janet now armed with a 7mm Magnum fired. The herd scattered and ran out of sight over the hill. Dan and Janet checked the area, found blood, then tracked it over the hill, finding the elk just out of site from their shooting position.

Days three through five continued to be eventful as Dan collected a 6x6 bull and a 5x5 buck. At the same time the other hunters were filling their deer and elk tags just as quickly. By the end of lunch on day six, the group had six bucks and six bulls hanging, and all hunters sported smiles from ear to ear.

Dan's theory was correct. If they had access to property that held a reasonable amount of game they could fill tags with quality animals. Hunting without a guide reduced the cost of the hunt by 67%.

As they were driving from the ranch to the restaurant for a prime rib dinner, Dan started to say, "Next year..." Before he could finish, Janet cut him off, "You bet we will; this is the most fun I have ever had on a hunt. Six bulls, six bucks, in six days." Dan just nodded and agreed. She answered the question he tried to ask.


Wiguide's picture

Good hunt!

I've had good success in Colorado on the Federal properties-but only in area that have no motor traffic- walking areas or horses only. The areas that allow 4 wheeler access seem to be spotty. I have talked to Wisconsin hunters who have tried a do it your self and haul4 wheelers out there- ussauly they spot very fewe elk or in most cases none. If you can walk in 2 miles or even a 1.5 mile- away from the trailhead on the downside off the top elevations where most hunters stay away from- elk sign will start appearing if there in that area and there is water and food sources. If you can afford it- the drop camp option is the best short of a guided hunt or leasing private.

PackInLight's picture

That is definitely a feat, 12

That is definitely a feat, 12 animals in 6 days.  Congrats.  Gotta dissagrea about colorado being overrun with hunters though.  There are definitely units with way too many hunters, but it just takes more research, experience, and effort to consistantly fill tags in this state.  You gotta make your own luck.  If you're coming from out east I can see how the odds are stacked against you, and reserving your own private hunting preserve/ranch would be appealing.

hunter25's picture

It does at first sound like a

It does at first sound like a lot of money but the rewards for an out of state hunter that doesn't know the are and can't pay the fees of an outfitter it's really not that bad. And in some areas it's nearly impossible to get permission anywhere as the money has taken over completely and real ranching doesn't exist anymore. I thought the price was rediculous myself as I hunt deer and elk for free on public land before I realized that is exactly what I pay for a week of deer and turkey hunting down in Texas for whitetail. The huge benefit of what I get is worth what I pay to me. I could spend far more wandering aimlessly trying to learn new areas and be successful.

That is a lot of money but it

That is a lot of money but it seems as if it has paid off for all of them. Congrats on everything that you have accomplished. I hope that you find joy and more food in your hunting adventures.


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Retired2hunt's picture

  A great accomplishment that


A great accomplishment that is!  Congrats to all 6 of these hunters for a tremendous harvest.

However, I have a hard time dropping that kind of money just for the use of a rancher's private property.  Granted this ranch obviously contained the animals and that drives part of this fee for hunt option.  For an out-of-state hunter this is a definite good option.

As a Coloradoan and resident I have found that if you ask around enough you eventually will find an owner of private property that will allow you to hunt their land without any access dollar payment.  It sometimes requires a day or two of working with the owner on some "chores" around the property.  Or it may require you to share your meat.  Or it may require the purchase of a gift card.  Or in some cases it is just a friend of a friend that simply allows you the honor.  So most of these options have some kind of "payment" but isn't that just common hunter courtesy?

Bottom line I would rather find my private property to hunt or else explore public lands versus spending several thousands of dollars for a drop-in.  Besides you do enough of these drop-ins or guided hunts and I think you are just better off buying your own property.


COMeatHunter's picture

Hunting private land has a

Hunting private land has a bunch of advantages to offer for sure.  The biggest benefit, in my opinion, is the quality of the hunting experience.  With much lower hunter densities, you can be rewarded with a great hunt and never even see another hunter the entire trip!  The animals usually seem a little less spooky too.

It was fun to read about your success.  Thanks for the story!

swisheroutdoors's picture

Cool Story

Sometimes everything just falls into place and perfection is attainted.  Really enjoyed reading about this hunt.  Good stuff.

numbnutz's picture

Wow! What a great story. Six

Wow! What a great story. Six bulls six bucks all in six days? Thats is quit the feat right there. That ranch must have had a great population of both deer and elk. That also seems like a lot of animals to take from one ranch in one year. 8500 acres is a pretty good size ranch but overall it's not that big. The trespass fee of $2000 isn't to bad. It's more than I would like to spend on a hunt but still if I had a great chance at harvesting animals like that I may have to reconsider my stuburness on paying a fee to hunt a private ranch. The ranch in my normal hunting ground had some great animals and is near 10,000 acres and the rancher charges almost $3000 for a hunt on his property. This was a really good story and fun to read. It seemed like after the first day they were into animals for the remainder of the trip. I'm glad they had a fun time. I had a fun time reading about it.