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Hey everyone, how have you all been since I've been gone? Anything exciting happen? The story of my elk trip is below.

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Ontario Honker Hunter View Post
    I'm curious. You had other hunters in the area. Did you hear them bugling? Could you differentiate between the fake and the real thing? It should not have been hard.
    Pretty sure we never heard any other hunters bugling. I think we only heard 3 different bulls bugle, and they were definitely all real elk. Most of the hunter sign we saw was a week or two old, from earlier in the season. While we were there most of the other hunting pressure was focused on the next drainage, where they could ride their ATVs.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by JM View Post
      You mean elk hunting isn't like the TV shows portray it? Sounds it it was still a fun trip(aside from the car troubles, that's never fun). Good thing you opted for the camera instead of a tag. I've gone hunting a few nights, but with 0 intention of shooting anything. Have had a few does within putting range, but the heat has always persuaded me not to take a shot. My friend shot a doe last weekend, and against the advice of a few people on this website we just covered it with ice as best as possible and drove it home. Might've gotten lucky, but it worked out perfectly. This is the first year I've really been into trail cameras and we have been getting some pretty cool pictures that have been exciting to see.
      No, it sure wasn't. Not like deer hunting either, even the "real-world" kind. Those elk think nothing of walking 2 or 3 miles to feed during the night. It was like hunting ghosts - you could see they'd been around, but could never catch up to them. You should post some of those photos, now I'm curious to see them!

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      • #18
        Originally posted by huntfishtrap View Post
        As all the regulars here know, I was going along on a CO elk hunting trip this year, and the trip was last week. Left on Friday, and just got back last night.

        Actually being out there was awesome, but the drive sucks, especially when you do it at night and only get 1 hour of sleep. Took about 14 hours going out, which was actually on the quick side. The last 15 miles are on a dirt jeep trail, which means that you can't get out if it's raining, which was a concern due to the rain that was forecast for Thursday. You don't want to slide off a 100 foot drop because of a muddy road. We got in to the trailhead about 10 AM, and discovered 3 other vehicles, which was not surprising but still disappointing. One of them was a car, which none of us could believe - you'd have to be either a complete idiot or a truly expert driver to get an ordinary sedan back through the ruts and washouts.

        Our campsite was less than a mile from the vehicle, which wouldn't have been bad except that it was almost all uphill, and by uphill I mean a 45 degree slope. Add in the dense oakbrush and the fact I made the rookie mistake of packing too much weight - 60+ pounds total - and the pack-in was pretty brutal. That was really the only time the as whole trip I felt bad physically though, otherwise I felt great the whole time. I definitely was very well-prepared. The worst part as far as the hiking was concerned was navigating all the pine beetle damage in the black timber (what the thick evergreen forests are called out there). That was NASTY stuff, with fallen, dead trees laying jumbled up like spilled Lincoln Logs, on 35 degree slopes. You had to pick your way slowly and do a lot of zig-zagging, which isn't pleasant on those sidehills.

        To make a long story a little shorter, the hunting was tough. There were elk around, especially at night, but the heavy hunting pressure had them laying low during the day, and we never really were able to pinpoint where they were staying. It wasn't where they were "supposed" to be, though. We only laid eyes on 2 elk in the 5 days we hunted, although we heard quite a bit of bugling. The first evening we jumped a cow that almost ran through camp, and then there were 2 bulls bugling only about 200 yards away at dark, so we felt pretty optimistic, but the hunting got worse from there. The next day we ran into a herd bull that was just going nuts, bugling and growling like crazy. Got to within 100 yards, but we bumped one of his cows, and couldn't call him in all the way. Still a pretty cool experience though. The day after that we hiked probably 7 or 8 miles, and gained about 1500 feet in elevation. Our camp was about 8500, and we topped out around 10,000 feet. I consumed 3800 calories that day, and still lost weight. Crazy how much you burn hunting at that altitude. We called in one bull, but he was obviously wary from all the hunting pressure, and just circled us about 60 yards out, in thick brush. No chance of a shot. That was the last close encounter we had. The last full day was a bust, with no elk seen or heard.

        Tuesday night a bugling bull kept me awake most of the night, which wasn't pleasant. The weather was clearly turning worse by Wednesday morning, and after hunting for a couple hours we figured we'd better get out before it started raining. The bull that had kept me awake was bugling all morning across a big valley from us, but there was no way to get at him under the circumstances. We packed up camp and headed out, and just got back to the vehicle before it started sprinkling.

        It was actually warm most of the time. There was frost the first morning, but after that it warmed up every day, and was in the 70s Monday and Tuesday. Made for more comfortable sleeping at night, though. The scenery was just incredible, and the aspens were almost at peak color, so it was a successful trip for me, since I was "hunting" with my camera.

        Driving home the vehicle broke down in the middle of Nebraska, which was bad, but could've been worse, since it happened in a fairly large city, so after spending the night in a motel we were able to limp to a mechanic, and got it repaired in less than 2 hours. The trip was quite the adventure, all in all, and I'll definitely be going back, though probably not every year. I have even less desire to actually kill an elk myself now than I did before, though, when you weigh the cost of the tags and the length of the trip against the low odds of success. I think I'll stick to deer hunting!

        I've attached a few photos. They're just JPEGs, straight out of the camera, which is why they look kind of blah. You can still get a feel for the grandeur of the country, though.
        I've heard of Carbondale. Thanks for posting the story and photos!

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        • #19
          Originally posted by huntfishtrap View Post
          For some reason I couldn't attach these 2 photos to my other post.

          Just thought of another interesting anecdote. Even though it looked and felt like the middle of the wilderness, it was amazing how much sign of people there was. Almost every day we could hear 4-wheeler hunters buzzing up and down the road we came in on, and there was flagging all over the woods. Most of it seemed to be random, and not marking trails, which we could never figure out. There were boot tracks of varying ages even in the deepest corner of the drainage, a good 3 or 4 miles from any kind of road as the crow flies.
          And the capper was that we had 2 guys walk through our camp about 8:30 one night, in the pitch black! We heard limbs cracking along the stream where we got water, about 60 feet below camp, and thought a bear or elk was coming. But then the lights hit our tents, and these two hunters walk up. They apologized for disturbing us, and started to walk out the trail we had come in on, but then changed their minds and walked back through our tents again and just went straight down the steep 50+ degree slope, making for the road a good 600 feet below. We couldn't believe it.

          P.S. I've attached a couple photos of the black timber, too.
          Dang, that does look steep! Yep, 60lbs in a backpack would not have been fun to lug up those slopes!

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