The grind continues! It’s the fourth day of my public-land elk hunt in Colorado. My hunting partner and I are tired, beat down and wet. We’ve heard one bugle in four days, heard a cow mew, and, as I type this, just had a bull skirt us in the timber at 80 yards.
My hunting partner and I had just finished brushing in our evening makeshift blind over a well-used wallow where we had hung a Stealth Cam G-30 game camera and where two four-point bulls visited yesterday evening. The bull, which appeared to be a legal shooter by the quick glimpse I caught of him through my Mavin optics, had to have been bedded close and was aroused by all the timber breaking we did. Sadly, as has been the story so far on this hunt, he came from the direction our scent stream was drifting toward. That bull marked our 12th encounter in four days.
How have we not had a shot?
Because (and go ahead and burn me at the stake for saying so) this isn’t a $10,000 dollar private-land elk hunt. This is an over-the-counter public-land elk hunt that was planned during the last five days of August because of other hunting obligations . And it’s tough. The elk aren’t talking, and the bulls are in small bachelor groups. The bachelor groups mean more eyes. Take last night, for example. We caught a beautiful 5×5 on the edge of a meadow pawing at a wallow and throwing dark mud all over his urine-stained undercarriage. We had the wind and the cover. He was preoccupied with his rutting ritual, and it was supposed to be a slam dunk. Then, 50 yards into our stalk, his four-point amigo spied us, and the whole operation was blown. We were so focused on the bull we were stalking that we failed to see his companion that was still bedded. I don’t need (and frankly don’t want) to tell you what happened next.
Before I go on, let me say I have no qualms issues with big-money hunts or those on private ranches. In fact, from September 8-15, I will be hunting elk in New Mexico with Howard Communications . I just want those coming West to realize how challenging a true public-land elk hunt is. I don’t want those romanticizing about grassy meadows with multiple six-point bulls screaming back-and-forth to get the wrong impression. Can this happen on an over-the-counter (OTC) public-land elk hunt? Of course. But plan for it to be the exception rather than the rule.
We’ve been logging more than 20,000 steps per day, living on Mountain House meals and Cliff Bars, and hunting as hard as we possibly can. Honestly, I’m loving every minute of it, but it’s hard not to get down or frustrated and want to just throw in the towel. That’s where it pays off to have an awesome hunting partner. I do, and I like to think that he does as well. It seems when one guy is down, the other is up. It’s an bond that can only be formed in the backcountry.
The rain has been another major issue. We’ve spent most days and nights soaked to the bone. The rain has foiled many of our waterhole and wallow sits, and it can make living in a tent miserable.
One thing I can promise you all is that we will keep going and keep grinding. Make sure to check back in for more updates on this hunting adventure. In the meantime, keep working hard, and good things will happen!