🎯 Archery Elk Hunt 2016

Elk country. We still have wild flowers at 9,750 feet.

Late August 2016. The Colorado high country is still enjoying summer, but some evening temperatures are dropping down below freezing. Aspens show just a few leaves beginning to turn to gold and elk have not quite entered the “rut”.

The archery hunting season will begin in a week and daily practice is mandatory.

Ben practices with his compound bow, not too bad for 40 yards

A scouting trip up Bull Mountain turns up a few old elk, deer and moose tracks. Where are they?

The 6X6 herd bull
Our elk family, no hunting allowed!

Oh, here they are, in the game camera at the cabin………..but not to be harmed!

After a steep climb up Bull Mountain to 9,788 feet, we spotted a huge black bear and a monster 6X7 bull elk drinking from the pond at 100 yards — too far for an ethical shot, but extremely beautiful nonetheless!

Ben at the elk wallow
Dolly the decoy slips past Ben during our midday nap….

We are seeing lots of deer and elk over the course of the next few days. Despite being pre-rut we are able to call in a few small herds, however none close enough for an ethical shot.

Ben and Dan kiss Dolly goodby (she is immune to Ben’s recently acquired strep throat) before climbing up to their campsite near the wallow — 9,788 ft elevation on Bull Mountain. Dan used his military training to construct a comfy shelter from 2 ponchos! Cold meals, no fire — they hope to remain undetected and discover wildlife using the pond. Except for another black bear, their effort was to no avail, but a satisfying adventure nonetheless.

Goodbye Dolly. See you soon!
Cozy camp

After Dan’s departure, we continue to hunt Bull Mountain, but are unable to call elk into bow range.

Bull Mountain sunset and sunrise

We have taken no animal thus far, but after a break to attend a wedding, I will be back, and hopefully the rut will have begun and calling will be much more effective.

Mid September now. Days are cooler and aspen trees are beginning to turn gold, especially atop Bull Mountain, which is 1,500 feet higher than the cabin.

Aspens turning to gold under deep blue skies
Harvest moon setting over Bull Mountain

Last day: As dawn slowly lights the sky, I find four mule deer (2 bucks, 2 does) grazing in the big clearcut 100 yards away. Above them 400 yards up the mountain a herd of 14 elk (5X5, spike, cows, calves) slowly graze back to their beds. Cow calls get a few mews in response and a bull bugles once, but they can’t be enticed back down to me. On the way back to the truck a mule deer buck approaches within 52 yards, head on to me (small target) and downwind. He definitely has my scent, but is unsure. The buck starts moving, the wind comes up. I shoot, hurrying the shot and miss cleanly. I hear my arrow hit a nearby rock, startling the buck. The small herd ambles away unconcerned…..

A few opportunities missed, but a wonderful experience just the same.

Written at Willett’s Kopje Creek Cabin, August/September 2016