View Full Version : My First Elk Hunt

10-21-2009, 08:34 PM
I started the journey of my first ever elk hunt on October 6th. I leisurely made my way through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and then on into Colorado. I arrived at the trailhead on Thursday morning right on schedule. I hiked 4 miles into the wilderness area and set up camp. Just as I got the last peg in, it started to spit a little snow. I hurriedly gathered and broke up some small kindling and pieces of wood for the stove. As the day wore on, the snow got harder and harder. After really having to nurse the stove along, it ended up being a true comfort in the tipi.


Friday was a windy, crisp day that I spent scouting and laying in a larger supply of wood. I found several areas that had promise, including one spot about 300 yards and 400 feet of elevation gain right above my camp. I went to bed really excited about the next day.

Saturday, October 10th - When my alarm went off Saturday morning, I had already been awake a couple of hours. My breakfast was a packet of instant cream of wheat, cereal, and Folgers coffee singles. As I was zipping up the tipi to leave, a shot rang out, then another, and another and another. I suppose the fellow reloaded, because after a short pause, two more rang out. I was surprised at this because it was dark; really dark. I checked my watch and it was not legal shooting light yet. The shots came from the direction that I had planned on hunting that morning. I figured that the elk would be long gone, but I hunted it anyway. I didn’t see anything, but I did glass and did some more scouting/hunting. This is part of the basin where I hunted.


Someone else was here long before me.


For the evening hunt, I decided to hunt the area above camp. I got comfortable overlooking an area where to draws came together before going into the creek. It had been extremely windy all day and it made for difficult hearing. Around 3PM, I thought I heard a faint bugle. I waited until the wind died a little and let off a soft mew from the cow call. About twenty minutes later I thought I heard another bugle. Again I waited until the wind died a little and let go another cow call. This time there was an immediate bugle. It seemed to be a little closer, so I just sat tight and waited. I wasn’t sure at first if it was an actual bull or another hunter, but when the bugles stayed in the same place, I decided to close the distance. (At this point, I still couldn’t see him.) I checked the wind and slowly cut the distance to about ninety yards. The next thing I know, cow elk were going everywhere. I got busted. The wind must have shifted and I never knew the cows were there. The bull didn’t really move off. He did start to get his cows back together while going up the mountain. I thought I knew where they might go, so I backed off and headed to that spot to try and get above them. They did in fact end up there, but I ran out of daylight before I could get into position. It was a great day. I got to see my first elk and hear my first bugle.

Sunday, October 11th – After the early morning hunt, I decided to check out another basin that held promise. As I was quietly stillhunting to the top of the ridge, I came around a bend a came face to face with a cow elk (less than 30 ft). I think we both startled each other. Of course she got the heck out of dodge with the rest of the herd. There was a toad of a bull in this basin with some cows. I hurriedly got situated to try and make a shot, but the bull never stopped walking away from me and never would turn. As bad as I would liked to have killed a bull, I was not going to take that shot. This time I thought I knew exactly where they would be going and I hurried up the mountain to try and beat them there. I guessed correctly, but I was about two minutes too late. The elk were already there and moving pretty fast through the timber. While I had a broadside shot this time, I still elected to pass on a moving animal right at 300 yards away moving through timber. I got an even better look at the bull this time and to be honest, I didn’t think I would see one like him.

The bull was in the trees just left of the snowflake on the lens. The distance was 260 yards.


I spent the rest of the day and the next three days trying to get back on the elk, but I never did find another herd. I saw plenty of sign; some fresh and some not so fresh. Although I did not get an elk, this is without a doubt, the best hunt I have ever had. I don’t regret not taking a shot and if I had to do it over again, I would do the same thing. I was a bit saddened as I broke camp on Wednesday in the rain. I learned a lot on this trip and year will be a long time to wait for the next lesson.

Tim in Washington
10-21-2009, 09:03 PM
Sounds like a great trip,congrats. on not taking a risky shot

Jon S
10-21-2009, 09:13 PM
Glad you liked the CO hills. Too bad no connection on an elk, but I am with you on not taking a long moving or head facing away shot.
Sad to hear someone was poaching/shooting before legal, too bad you couldn't catch them and pull a Huntsman22 on 'em, it is different than a #6.
Good on you for hiking in and chasing those wily creatures, seems like you were in a good spot.

10-21-2009, 09:37 PM
Sounds like a great first elk hunt!

10-22-2009, 07:50 AM
Nice. Awesome. Nothing beats the experience of a solo adventure. An elk would have been nice, but its all about the experience right?

10-22-2009, 09:33 AM
Being on the elk like that and having such a good hunt is what it is all about. It is better to come home feeling good about having a shot and not taking it than it is coming home feeling bad cause the shot went wrong. Good for you.

Scoutin' Wyo
10-22-2009, 12:04 PM
Being on the elk like that and having such a good hunt is what it is all about. It is better to come home feeling good about having a shot and not taking it than it is coming home feeling bad cause the shot went wrong. Good for you.

Couldn't agree more! Great story and photos, thanks.

10-22-2009, 01:34 PM
Great story and a grand Colorado adventure!

one-eyed Bob
10-22-2009, 08:05 PM
Wish I had been there. ibob

10-22-2009, 08:35 PM
Great stuff! Thanks.
Is that a 4 man you packed up there?

10-23-2009, 11:39 AM
Great stuff! Thanks.
Is that a 4 man you packed up there?

It's actually a paratipi. I guess the angle may have made it look like a four man.

10-23-2009, 02:23 PM
Great story. Thanks for sharing.

The best hunts really are the ones in which you learn stuff.