A freind and I have had a busy season this year. It started with a weekend of antelope hunting on the eastern plains of Colorado, where the only thing either of us got was a case of West Nile Virus.
We then chased Mountain Goats as he was fortunate enough to draw a tag in his 5th year. Fortunately he carried a rifle. He ended up shooting an older Nanny at about 85 yards. One side was messed up, most likely from a fall earlier in life, but she had a nice coat and the good side was quite nice. I alos decided that the unit we were in was not a good place for me to go archery hunting when I finally do draw a tag.
The following weekends were spent elk hunting, then duck hunting, then elk hunting.
That final weekend was the closer for archery elk. We got into our camp area around 12:00 on thursday and got set for the evening hunt. We got into a couple of decent bulls, but I had some problems with my rangefinder and right when I finally got an accurate reading, the bull decided it had enough...would have been a pretty easy broadside shot at 50 yards:embara: The next morning we got into another bull, but the wind was swirling and he busted out before entering my freinds shooting lane. The rest of the day was dead quiet and we didn't see any animals.
Saturday morning arrived similar to the way Friday ended: quiet. We hiked down into a deep drainaga along the river so I could show him more of the area. As we began up a side drainage, a group of 4 cows shot past us higher on the sidehill. A low growling bugle sounded off at their backside. We hurriedly got up the hill where they had crossed knowing the bull would be following. We set up and waited and several more bulls started bugling. The sounds of the bugles went up the opposite hill side. I finally decided to bail out of my hiding place and scurried quickly up the other mountain. About half way up, I realized I hadn't heard a bugle in a litle while, so I stopped and cow called softly. I was greeted with several bugles and began to move in tighter. At one point, I thought I got too close and was busted by one of the bulls. Out of frustration, I got a little more aggressive than I had been al season. I grabbed the nearest down branch and beat the crap out of a sapling, then followed with a nice bugle...not too strong, but not real weak...something that needed attending too by the big boy in the area. I got a strong bugle back from the bull and heard him moving up above. I quickly changed positions and set up for the shot. He worked in quarter counter clockwise circle and I could see him through some small trees that obscured the 25 yard shot. If he continued on the same path around to me, it would be a 15 yard broadside shot with a favorable wind and good cover to get to full draw. He started down and around, then all hell broke loose. Cows and young bulls were busting out of the area from above and coming past me. Large branches breaking and the sound of hooves on the ground and antlers in the trees. I saw a cow cut straight above me and stop. She would travel downhill right past me if she follows the rest. Another elk started down on my right. I decided that I would wait for the cow to show and take her. I didn't feel that I could even chance making a body position change to see the other animal with tem at less than 15 yards. The cow moved down slope and her head disappeared behingd a small pine tree and I brought the Martin Firecat to full draw. She stopped, and it became a waiting game. I kept the draw stop pressed up against the limb, until she finally broke cover and released the Easton Axis tipped with a 125gr. NAP Nitron. The hit was good, but not as good as I would have liked. After a few minutes of the animls tearing down the hill, I heard the soft mew of a "cow". Thinking it was my freind coming in, I gave a few turkey yelps...a natural sound in the woods, but not this time of year. a few seconds later another hunter poked his head around a tree. The wind was all wrong for him to come in on those elk...which explains the impropmptu stampede down the hill. After talking with him for a few minutes, I began to work the trail.
The blood trail was a little over 100 yards. Its amazing how quickly these animals can cover ground while going downhill. She expired in an excellent place for pictures, but unfortunately the pictures weren't taken until later as I had to find my hunting partner. She was already quarterd and the meat removed from the front shoulders for these pictures. We tried very hard to make them as nice as possible, but the fading light made it difficult.
After I packed out the front shoulders, back straps and tenderloins, we sat by the fire for a bit. We then decided to call it a night so I could be well rested to get the rest of the meat out in the morning and to take out camp. However, I was restless and decided to pack my part of camp out at 2:30 in the morning. The bulls were bugling and at this point I was wondering if I made the right choice in taking the cow. I hiked the 3 miles out which provided plenty of opportunity to think about a lot of things. During that time, I reaffirmed how happy I was with my cow. The work I had put into her and the skills necessary to harvest her make her a true trophy in my mind., but on with the rest of the weekend. When I began my hike back up to the camp, the bulls were still bugling. By the time I got there, there was only a couple hours left before shooting light. I laid in the tent just waiting. The anticipation of a last opportunity was killing me though, so I woke up my freind. After a bit we got out and started after the bugles. After some work and some good fortune we were set up very well for the bull. A soft mew brought him in...too close and with the wrong angle, but he bolted back and stood broadside to my freind at 15 yards. The arrow did its job and a short track later, I saw a mountain of work in front of me
he is a pretty old bull past his prime. A typical 6 point right with a broken brow tine. The left side is scored as a 4 point. He is missing any sign of groth of his second tine on this side and the tip is broken off. Not sure if it took two points with it or only 1. we watched hiom chase off a good sized 5x5 which allowed us to get in the right position to create a shot opportunity. Defiantely a great last day bull, especially since it was my freinds first archery season!
I shot the blue grouse Friday with my bow. It made for a great dinner.