Arika’s Corner – 2014 Colorado Archery Elk Hunt

I had 9 years of flatland bow hunting experience under my belt. After listening to my husband Curt’s endless stories of his elk hunting adventures, viewing hundreds of scenic pictures, and even having our house graced with a shoulder mount of a Pope and Young 6×6 bull elk that he had arrowed; I was ready to up the ante in my archery career. In 2014, I cashed in my preference points and drew a Colorado any elk archery tag. That summer was an expensive one as I upgraded my hunting attire to full sets of Merino Wool clothing. I routinely practiced with my bow out to 40 yards but was hoping for a shot under 30. Curt was continuously stressing fitness as a very vital role in the hunt. I presumed that he was over emphasizing this fact and this was his nice way of telling me I could lose a few pounds. About three weeks out from the start of the hunt, I stepped up my exercise routine to include 2 mile runs.


The 13 hour drive from our home in South Dakota to Colorado was uneventful up until the last three miles. We turned off a county road onto a forest service road that led up the mountain. The road was rudded up very badly from recent rains and the narrow two track with a sheer cliff on the passenger side and the face of the mountain inches from the driver’s side mirror left little room for error. If you have ever wondered how long you can hold your breath and pray at the same time, the answer is at least three miles. The road leveled off and the terrain flattened allowing us to pull off the road into a nice creek side campsite where we established our base camp. The next three days were spent 2000 feet above base camp. It was then that I found out why Curt had been stressing fitness so much. Several vertical hikes had left me gasping for air and hoping to keep my breakfast in my stomach instead of on the trail. Increasing the agony was the fact that we were seeing very few elk and had no shot opportunities so far. On the fourth day we hiked back down to our base camp to resupply and regroup.


I was refreshed after a good night’s rest and some real food which was a good thing because we spent half of the day hiking into a new area we found on the map that we hoped would hold elk. Water was in short supply on this side of the mountain so we set up our spike camp near a small seep at the edge of a lush meadow. Things were looking up because even though the temperature was unseasonably warm, we could hear half-hearted bugles in the dark timber above our camp. The afternoon temperatures started to fall so Curt and I moved to the edge of the timber to try our first calling sequence.


I positioned myself in front of a small pine tree facing a small depression at the edge of the dark timber. Curt moved about 50 yards down wind of me on the other side of a small rise. Curt had been cow calling sporadically for about 15 minutes when I noticed movement in the trees. A five point bull materialized in the meadow 50 yards upwind of me. The bull slowly fed towards me throughout the next 5 minutes until it decided to check out the lonely cow convention on the other side of the rise. I could not believe this was happening and that the elk was paying no attention to me. The bull passed by me broadside at 15 yards; not even batting an eye at me as I came to full draw. I placed my top pin in the crease of the elk’s shoulder and the arrow was away. I connected with what looked like a perfect shot to me.


The bull took off over the rise towards Curt and was out of site in two strides. Curt continued cow calling for the next half hour while I waited in agony to find out what was going on. Finally Curt worked his way over to my location. I asked him if he had seen the bull that I shot. He told me that it had slowly walked down towards our tent and he had continued to cow call to try to calm the bull and to keep it close. We decided we did not want to bump the bull and decided to stay put for a couple hours after dark. To pass the time; we talked and joked and even danced under the stars in the Colorado sky. We quietly snuck back to our tent for a night of uneasy rest.


The sun was rising as we emerged from our tent that morning. I was prepared to search for blood and take up the trail when Curt glanced to his left and told me to look in that direction. The contrast of the bull’s tan belly in the lush sea of green of the meadow it lay in was unmistakable. I carried my bow with me as I approached the elk; however there was no need for it. My perfect shot wasn’t as perfect as I had thought. However, my broadhead had sliced through the bull’s liver and dropped him within 50 yards of our tent. Thank goodness for digital cameras because I could not afford the film processing of all the pictures we took of my trophy. The next day and a half was spent packing boned out meat off the mountain. I was determined to pack out my bull’s antlers and skull all by myself.
Although I still consider myself a flatlander and thoroughly enjoy my flatland bow hunts, this western mountain experience really opened my eyes to true adventure. In 2017 I hope my name is drawn out of the hat once again so I can return to Colorado for another adventure.

Jan 02, 2017 | Category: Arika's Corner, Elk Hunting | Comments: none


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