24hourcampfire.com
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
T
TheKid Offline OP
Campfire Tracker
OP Offline
Campfire Tracker
T
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
This past November marked the 67th year that the men in my family made the annual trek to the mountains of Colorado for hunting season. It has been and continues to be an amazing adventure every single year though sadly I believe it may be winding down.

The plan started off in grand fashion, we bought groceries and made arrangements for a camp 14 strong. As the excitement built as it always does as we ready our gear we had our first letdown when Grandad, the founder of our camp and the last surviving original member caught a chest cold and decided he’d best stay home. Soon after one of my uncles decided he wasn’t going to make it as his daughter is expecting his first grandchild any time now and he wanted to stick close by to keep an eye on Grandad too. The next day a close family friend who I consider an uncle by association had to bow out due to farming duties that couldn’t wait. Then the calls from our cousins in NM who come up to meet us started with different maladies for them causing their attendance to be cut by half.

So the five of us decided we’d soldier on and do the best we could and we headed out the Wednesday before the start of CO’s 3rd rifle to go to camp. We left as soon as I got off work and drove until midnight before we decided to hang it up and turn in. Got a cheap motel room and discovered we had a trailer tire going flat so rather than get up early and deal with it we swapped the spare on at 12:30 in the parking lot. Of course in the morning we found out we’d somehow ruined a wheel even though the tire was fine. With no replacement available we had to go for broke and hope for the best, by some miracle we made it the second half of our trip on a junk spare that we couldn’t find a replacement for at any stop along the way.

Fooling around looking for a tire and or wheel in several towns had cost us valuable time so rather than making our usual stop in town for tags and last minute groceries before heading up to camp we decided to head on up and come back to town the next day.

As we left town we got a call from a NM cousin who was up at camp with more bad news. Someone had parked a Gooseneck full of gear right in the center of our usual camping spot claiming it for themselves. They were looking but hadn’t found a suitable spot for our big camp.

We continued on hoping to find a workable spot and get set up before dark. As we pulled off the pavement and onto our forest service road we were happy to find 4” of fresh snow from the night before and dad quickly slid his pickup into 4HI, just in case. Unfortunately my uncle following us didn’t do the same and at the first set of switchbacks he spun out and slid backward into the ditch and 4wd wasn’t any help by then. Not being able to be of any help pulling a 20’ deckover we just waved and continued on up the mountain to try and find our cousins.

We quickly found camp and powwowed with the New Mexicans about the stuck rig back down the way. One of them had a set of heavy chains for his truck and they chained her up and went and made the recovery while dad and I started unloading our stuff to get going on building camp.

After all the drama it was getting late and we had all hands on deck getting the tent up, bunks built, lights and stove plumbed, tables and counters assembled, and then supper cooked. Luckily we’ve all done this enough that it went up pretty smoothly with everyone doing their job that they’ve been assigned or adopted over the years. Pretty soon we were eating a bowl of homemade pozole and enjoying a cold beer as the wood burner crackled and the gas lights hissed. Home again.

Friday morning we cut and stacked wood, built a world class shiet palace out back, and finished any little loose ends we’d forgotten in the hustle the day before. A quick trip to town got us licensed up and the last of the groceries bought and put away. After supper we shook dominoes, caught up on current family events, and made plans for who would hunt where in the morning.

The opener found us up at 5:00 making coffee, bacon, 2 fried eggs apiece, and biscuits. Lunches packed and plans made we headed out with high hopes to our old familiar spots, a pair to the Big Green ridge, an uncle on the stump overlooking Three Cow Saddle, two boys up on Spike Camp ridge, a deer hunting cousin headed for The Burn, and Dad and I peeled out for Hubcap Junction where we’d park and make the two mile hike to the top of the Horsetrail ridge.

It took us 45 minutes or so to make the climb to the top of the old horsetrail. We eased up to peek off into a bowl that often has elk in it at first and last light only to find nothing. After a while we decided to go around the edge and look over in my favorite hellhole, affectionately known as The Okie Pocket. It was named this by the old man who cut the horse trail years back because it’s a steep and miserable canyon full of brush and twisted gnarled pinions and according to him us Okies were the only ones stupid enough to kill an elk in there and pack it out on our backs, my biggest bull came from the darkest steepest corner of this canyon years ago.
On our way in there we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a herd of elk not completely wildly blowing out of the country but definitely nervous and headed somewhere else. We could occasionally see flashes of color and a cow or calf through an opening but no bulls and no opportunities to shoot if there had been. It was an exciting few minutes being back in the mountains and in the elk 2 hours into opening day.

We went ahead and looked around in the place we were headed, sitting and watching a trail for a couple hours with nothing but a few deer passing through. So we shouldered our packs and headed up the ridge toward the big bowl at the top.

We stopped on the edge of the bowl under a tree where my uncle once sat all day under a GI poncho in a snowstorm with a can of Sterno burning to keep him warm until a big old 6x7 bull circled the bowl and met his demise with a well placed Nosler from an old 270. We glasses the bowl and decided to eat lunch. Dad broke out a 1994 dated MRE he’d been saving for some reason or another and I had a dry lunch of crackers, smoked cheese, and leftover fried walleye chunks from the fish fry the night before. After carefully reading and following the instructions on the MRE dad found out the heater had gone bad and he had no way to heat his beef stew pouch. Bummer. At least he thought the heater had gone bad but an hour later he must have jostled it just right because as we packed up he put it in his backpack and it almost immediately went to sizzling and boiling!

After lunch and glassing the bowl for a while we decided it was time to move and I said I would head up to the very top before falling off the back side onto a hidden shelf that has been known to hold a bull or two to still hunt my way back around to the place he planned to sit. We parted ways and I made the climb. Just as I reached the saddle at the top I heard hoofbeats headed my way. I quickly squatted down by a pine as three big cows came into view. They slowed to a walk and eventually stopped about 30 yards from me. I watched them for 10 minutes hoping a bull was behind but they were alone. After a time they decided to head out and eased over into the big bowl I’d just come from and I watched in awe as they effortlessly crossed the half mile wide bowl in less than 5 minutes and disappeared into the timber below.
Continuing my still hunt I found elk sign everywhere, definitely plenty of animals using the area and easy to keep your eyes and ears sharp knowing that there could be a bull over the next little rise or through the next opening in the timber. As I crept into an opening that afforded a view of the surrounding ridges I happened to scan back down the ridge 2 miles or so to the first bowl we’d checked in the morning and was suddenly looking at a herd of elk out feeding in the snow.

I quickened my pace and headed down the way we’d come to try and catch dad so we could maybe make it back before we lost the light to look them over. I caught him sitting on a rock waiting for me and explained what I’d found. We double timed it back down to the bowl at the far end and slowly snuck over the edge to check them out. They were all scattered on the mountainside and we checked them off as we went, 11 cows. Then all the sudden one steps out of the oak brush and I see antlers, not very big antlers but antlers nonetheless. Then the scrutinizing begins, does he have 4 on a side, are his brows 5” long, hard to tell with his head in the oak brush with those little sticks around his antlers looking just like his points. Finally after 20 minutes of watching he swings his head around to scratch his side and I can clearly count points against the yellow background of his hide, 4 on his right side for sure and I’m 99% his brows are long enough too. Rangefinder shows 411, rifle over the pack, safety off. I hold in line with his leg and put the horizontal wire on his back before sending a 130Etip across the bowl and hearing a satisfying WHAP as it lands. He staggers a little so I hold in the same place and light another one off, WHAP as it lands and he stumbles and stands still. Once more because this is the fun part I hold in the same place and send another. This time he folds up and slides a few yards down onto a little bench before coming to rest.

About then a guy starts hollering below us in the trees. We grab our stuff and walk down to meet a couple young guys about my age. They had been trying to get a shot at the bull for half an hour not knowing we were there and us not knowing they were below us. I felt bad especially when they said they’d had a bigger bull they were stalking killed out from under them that morning but they assured me that it was no big deal and not like I’d done it on purpose. We shook their hands and headed over to take a picture and get to work with the 30 minutes of sun we had left.

We got down to business had him skinned and quartered in 37 minutes. We didn’t have bags or frames so we laid everything out in the snow and beat feet for camp. I did recycle the plastic outer bag from the ill fated MRE to have something to put the tenderloins in and packed them out. We made the hike out under the stars and a moon bright enough we didn’t need a flashlight for much of the trip. At the trailhead a local father and son we’ve become friends with over the years offered their congratulations and the boys in camp had a cold beer, and following Grandad’s tradition for first meat in camp, a shot of HotDamn. They also had the stove cranking and supper hot and ready. This is what we come for and things were looking up!

To be continued…..

BP-B2

Joined: May 2019
Posts: 1,334
R
Campfire Regular
Offline
Campfire Regular
R
Joined: May 2019
Posts: 1,334
Awesome so far. Waiting with baited breath. I need to hunt elk one of these days.

Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 10,003
Campfire Outfitter
Offline
Campfire Outfitter
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 10,003
Great story. Rickshaw its addicting.

Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 3,439
W
Campfire Tracker
Offline
Campfire Tracker
W
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 3,439
Cool story. Well written.
Hope there are pics!

Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 18,231
S
Campfire Ranger
Offline
Campfire Ranger
S
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 18,231
Great write up.The best elk hunting partner I ever had and I are about like your granddad. Neither of us will probably ever make it back up the mountain again, but appreciate the tales.

Last edited by saddlesore; 12/02/22.

If God wanted you to walk and carry things on your back, He would not have invented stirrups and pack saddles
IC-A B3

Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 16,604
W
Campfire Ranger
Offline
Campfire Ranger
W
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 16,604
Very good!


Molon Labe
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 3,439
W
Campfire Tracker
Offline
Campfire Tracker
W
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 3,439
Originally Posted by saddlesore
Great write up.The best elk hunting partner I ever had are about like your granddad. Neither of us will probably ever make it back up the mountain again, but appreciate the tales.

I'd bet that you have many good stories from your years of elk hunting and packing. I'd love to hear them....

Bill

Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 10,957
P
Campfire Outfitter
Offline
Campfire Outfitter
P
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 10,957
Great story, hurry up with pics!


Obey lawful commands. Problem solved.

~Molɔ̀ːn Labé Skýla~

Member #547
Join date 3/09/2001
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 352
M
Campfire Member
Offline
Campfire Member
M
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 352
The Kid,

What a great story! It really took me back.

I remember when I was the youngster going on mule deer and elk hunts here in Idaho with family and friends every fall. Our camps included tents and travel trailers over the years, and small routine things around camp-cooking, eating, campfires, good conversations and hunting stories, and good whiskey, are what I remember most. As the years went by, my Dad and his friends one by one dropped out due to health reasons, they are all gone now.

Only a few of us are left now. My son in law is a new attendant and in a few years I will add my oldest grandson. Trying to keep the tradition alive.

Your story was a nice read and I am looking forward to the rest, and hopefully some pictures. Thank you for sharing.

Regards,
Manny

Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 16,652
S
Campfire Ranger
Offline
Campfire Ranger
S
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 16,652
Congrads and enjoying the write up! Only got to do one Elk hunt, killed a spike!


Deer Camp! about as good as it gets!
IC-B B4

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
T
TheKid Offline OP
Campfire Tracker
OP Offline
Campfire Tracker
T
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
I promise the rest of the story and a round of pics are coming guys, as soon as I get time.

Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 12,080
B
Campfire Outfitter
Offline
Campfire Outfitter
B
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 12,080
Great story so far! Can’t wait to read the rest!


Semper Fi
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 2,624
4
Campfire Regular
Offline
Campfire Regular
4
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 2,624
there is some thing about a family or good friends hunting camp that is a life long love

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
T
TheKid Offline OP
Campfire Tracker
OP Offline
Campfire Tracker
T
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
Cont..
The next morning I rolled out and helped with breakfast before letting everyone leave and go up for the morning hunt. A good friend who’s no relation to us but we’ve agreed to adopt because he’s a great guy, a cousin my age, my oldest uncle, and my dad agreed to meet around lunchtime and we’d gang up and go on a retrieval mission. I eased back into my bunk for an hour or so after cleaning up breakfast and stoking the wood burner.

About 11:00 I got to the rendezvous point and radioed to see if everyone was ready. Sitting on my wheeler waiting for a reply and I catch a glimpse of something 40 yards off the trail I’m parked on. Sure enough it’s a herd of cows and calves bedded in the timber and totally unconcerned with my being there. Unfortunately the one guy in camp with a cow tag was a ways off and it would have been against the rules to tell him where they were on the radio anyway. Shaking my head I rolled on down to meet the guys.

We donned pack frames and slowly made the trek to my bull keeping eyes out for more elk and then carefully looking over the kill site from a distance since Dad had opted for a bear tag over a bull. Satisfied that nothing was around we closed the last bit of distance and started loading packs. Soon we were on our our way, one whole bull elk in one load. A little more than an hour and we had it all back to the wheelers, bagged, and strapped down for the ride back to the meat pole in camp.

Interestingly enough, when we reached the kill site I noticed that one quarter was moved about a foot and one backstrap was about 3 feet from where I’d left it. Closer inspection found a single set of fox tracks in the snow and the heart, which I’d set aside since I didn’t have a bag for it, had been absconded with! Rat bastard had a whole gutpile all to himself and he takes my favorite part.

The following days I spent mostly with Dad, looking for sheds, rocks, and a bear, but definitely soaking up the scenery and enjoying good company and being away from work. Saw elk every day, unbelievable when I’m used to hunting my ass off and seeing 3 or 4 the whole trip on a normal year. Also saw a few really nice bucks, of course always when the cousin with a buck tag was far away.

On one of our afternoon strolls I came to a dirt wash and saw an antler sticking up from behind a stump. Thinking I’d found a dandy shed I headed down to it only to see the other side with it. Deadhead, I thought. Well it turned out I was mostly right. Unfortunately I found a really nice buck someone had killed and lost during the second season. Coyotes had eaten his hindquarters and the hair had started to slip but the front half of him was completely intact. Due to the open area he was in and judging by the entry and exit holes whatever dumbass shot him couldn’t have possibly looked very hard for him. He had a hole perfectly centered between the base of the neck and the shoulder with an exit the size of a silver dollar right behind the shoulder on the opposite side. No way he made it far and what a waste of a dandy buck. I pulled a city slicker move and had my picture taken with him like I’d killed him and had a good laugh on the guys at work. 😁

As the week wore on the weather was great and everyone was still seeing game, just no shot opportunities. So I hatched a plan to do a two man elk drive with Dad through a bowl that we knew some were staying in. Three guys with bull tags and my uncle with the cow tag setup on saddles in the ridge where we know they cross and Dad and I started easing up the opposite side of the bowl with the intention of just letting them get our wind or see us and nudging them the right direction. We sidehilled to the top of the bowl and swung over to come back down the middle through the thick stuff we were sure they’d be in. And they were. After we split up a little I was bee bopping along down in the dark timber when I look ahead and see a cow about 50 yards from me and sound asleep. I glass and scan for 5 minutes and finally determine she’s alone. Still there’s a guy with a cow tag less than 500 yards straight north of her sitting overlooking a trail that cuts right through a heavily used saddle, this is going to work perfectly. I backed up a ways and swung around to get directly south of her where she’d get my wind and head north. Imagine my surprise when she gets my wind and stays lying down looking at me for several minutes only to finally get up and stroll right around me and go straight south! Best laid plans and everything.

In the end the stars just didn’t align for anyone else and I ended up with the only meat on the pole. But everyone in camp had a great hunt, ate like it was Thanksgiving everyday, heard some funny jokes and fun stories of trips past, and just generally had a great time.

Our wives can’t believe how well we eat. Our menu this year included fried Walleye, baked hams, baked turkeys, beans and cornbread, thick cut pork chops, fried chicken, homemade pozole, venison chili, stroganoff, and other real home cooked meals. Breakfast was always eggs cooked to order, bacon, sausage, or home cured Canadian bacon, and biscuits aside from two mornings, one where we had pancakes and another where I whipped up a breakfast casserole with leftover ham, potatoes, bacon, and cheese. A wonderful lady from NM always volunteers to bake us a huge box of the finest cookies and spiced breads I’ve ever had. In the end grocery costs were up 80 cents a meal from last year but still incredibly reasonable for as well as we eat. In 2021 it cost $5.30 per meal per man, this year we owed $6.11 a plate.

The fuel bill liked to have killed us when we divvied it up. We burned $103 worth of propane, $431 worth of gasoline, and an unbelievable $758 worth of diesel on the 1279 mile journey from OK to CO and back. Sorry Uncle but your shiny new Duramax getting 5mpg may not be our vehicle of choice next go around.

As I alluded too in the beginning, times they are changing. There’s rumors of tag prices increasing again soon and Dad’s generation that makes up 80 percent of our group are aging out. I grew up waiting year after year to get old enough to go and when I finally started I thought it would never end. I made dad promise to try his best to stay in shape with the hope that we can keep it up long enough for his grandsons to go. So until we get completely priced out of it or we just get too old we’re going to try our best to keep it up and keep the adventure going. We’re already making plans for next fall.

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
T
TheKid Offline OP
Campfire Tracker
OP Offline
Campfire Tracker
T
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
Under construction. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
And complete. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
Deluxe Outhouse being built. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
A man with 40 years experience explaining what it takes to make a world class Shietter. I honestly have no idea why he was given the task but he’s been building the outhouse since 1979. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
Home away from home. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
T
TheKid Offline OP
Campfire Tracker
OP Offline
Campfire Tracker
T
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
Fries to go with the fish on Friday night. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
Carefully follow MRE instructions to melt your backpack on the mountainside! [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
Typical meal of an evening. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
Hams been ate so the whiskey and bullsheit comes out for desert. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
Nightly domino world championship [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
T
TheKid Offline OP
Campfire Tracker
OP Offline
Campfire Tracker
T
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 6,995
A raghorn to put us on the board. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
The 270Wby ETip combo is rough on em. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
The pack string. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
“My” big buck. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc] [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

26deg at lunch required a small fire to warm up our bones and Uncle Woody’s Viennas. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
Keeping a sharp eye out after lunch. [Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

Hope you enjoyed the story a fraction as much as I enjoyed living it.

Last edited by TheKid; 12/02/22.
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 3,439
W
Campfire Tracker
Offline
Campfire Tracker
W
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 3,439
Awesome!

Very well done and I enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to post it all.

Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 10,957
P
Campfire Outfitter
Offline
Campfire Outfitter
P
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 10,957
Nicely done.


Obey lawful commands. Problem solved.

~Molɔ̀ːn Labé Skýla~

Member #547
Join date 3/09/2001
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 53,485
Campfire Kahuna
Offline
Campfire Kahuna
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 53,485
Wow that's GREAT!


_______________________________________________________
An 8 dollar driveway boy living in a T-111 shack

LOL
Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4

Moderated by  RickBin 

Link Copied to Clipboard
RR1-22
Who's Online Now
110 members (4and1, 264mag, 2ndwind, 44automag, 10gaugemag, 18 invisible), 679 guests, and 1,086 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
RR2/3-22



 







Fish & Game Departments | Solunar Tables | Mission Statement | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | DMCA
Hunting | Fishing | Camping | Backpacking | Reloading | Campfire Forums | Gear Shop
Copyright © 2000-2023 24hourcampfire.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
 
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5
(Release build 20201027)
Responsive Width:

PHP: 7.3.33 Page Time: 0.047s Queries: 14 (0.004s) Memory: 0.9749 MB (Peak: 1.1453 MB) Data Comp: Zlib Server Time: 2023-02-01 08:25:42 UTC
Valid HTML 5 and Valid CSS