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Me 'n Zach's Elk huntin'
Old 10-28-2009, 08:09 PM
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Default Me 'n Zach's Elk huntin'

(So far)

Day one, Oct 17th, I picked Zach up at 06:00 and we went for a short drive out by Hamilton to some BLM ground where strangely no one hunts. My boys and I hunted it quite a bit and I got to know a secret way to the top of the cliffs. We were 3/4 way to the top when we heard some dogs barking ang there were FIVE great Pirenies dogs following our tracks up the side of the dang cliff, They blew through a herd of deer and scattered them than chased them right through where the elk usually come down the hill when pushed by other hunters. I had a few choice words for the mangy mutts as we sat concealed in a tangle of junipers. About 5 minutes later they returned to our trail and were about 100 yards away when I decided that our hunting was ruined for the day. I hollered at them, but they kept coming in our direction so I put a bullet from Zach's '06 in front of the leader and they all decided it was time to leave.

With nothing to look forward to but the hike back to the truck we decided to have a bit of fun rolling rocks down the hill.

After the fun we went scouting in the Axial basin where we saw several other hunters, fourwheelers (ptooey) and what could have passed for a KOA campground. I had to be to work at 15:00 that afternoon so we bagged it for the weekend and made plans for the following weekend.

Day 2, Oct 24th. It rained a good bit overnight and things were a bit wet when we left my house at 06:00. I decided to check out some state land on the Knez Divide road that borders BLM and Trapper Mine property. I've also hunted this in the past ans always saw elk in the area so our luck was sure to change. When we got to the gate onto the state land some other hunters were already parked there, but we took off hiking anyway and not long after we left the truck the other hunters decided to leave. (yea!) The grass and brush was very wet and soon after we reached the top we were rewarded by spooking a "herd" of elk out of the oak brush below us and they soon showed themselves on a ridge about 300 yards away. Just turned out to be a cow and calf, but we sat tight in hopes that there were more hiding below us in the tangle of oak brush.

Surely there are some elk in there somewhere!!! After watching for a good hour, we hiked on a bit farther but couldn't cut any sign. No fresh tracks or elk poo. So we decided to test our fire making skills and built a small fire to dry out by and watch for elk.

Along about 11:00 we agreed to head back to the truck in the middle of a rain/sleet squall. We arrived back at the truck wetter than before and covered with burrs. As we were cleaning the burrs off a DOW truck pulled up and we spent about half an hour jawin' with the game warden. He proceded to ell us that there had been 3 cows and a "nice" bull taken out of where we were hunting the weekend before but according to "their radio tracking" the elk had moved over by Indian Run. I quizzed him as to why there were so few elk in the area compared to years past and he did a very good job "explaining" that "from aerial tracking of collared elk that most of the elk herd had moved into the White River country". I asked if that included the 1000 or so elk that used to live on Hammil's and Trapper Mine and assured us that this was so. I politely told him he was full of **** and that he needed to get his information straight as to the bad winter kill of two years before. He kinda agreed that that bad winter may have had a significant impact on the elk population in the area. It's funny how DOW officials change their tune when confronted with the truth by someone who isn't afraid to push the right buttons as it were.

He did however let us in on where there could be a few elk in the California Park area east of Bears Ears and that hunters in that area had "done pretty well" so we decided that it might not be a bad idea to head that way the next day.

When we got back to the house I got out my maps and began "scouting".

Day 3, Oct 25th. We were on the road to California Park at 06:00 and passed through some BLM and state trust land on the way there hoping to "catch" some elk moving. Fortunately the roads were still frozen and travel was pretty easy. As we climbed higher in elevation the mud turned to snowpack and we did see where a few elk had crossed the road but due to near blizzard conditions we were obliged to just look at the tracks and creep on over to Slater then back over the top to Lost Park and Sawmill. The weather cleared enough for us to stop and glass Angel Springs but in the 4-6" of fresh snow we saw nothing moving and no fresh tracks crossing the road. All the vehicle we encountered were heading for the low country as fast as possible.

Reminds me of hunting in Montana in the 70's. A butt load of hunters, but no elk.

Zach's deer tag is for third season as is my elk tag so plans were made for the coming weekend when we'll be out again. We'll go back to the BLM by Hamilton where we spotted a couple nice bucks and with all the snow we're getting now the elk, if there are any, might be moving by this weekend.

More of our little saga later

When you go afield, take the kids and please......................................wear your seatbelts.
Northwest Colorado.............Where the wapiti roam and deer and antelope run amuck.
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