Friday, October 27, 2017

Elk Hunt 2017

I just returned from a long anticipated elk hunt in north central Colorado. A group of friends and I drew tags for units 18/181. After a twenty four hour drive, we finally arrived and set up our camp. Consisting of a walled tent and a pop-up camper, horse trailer that served as our kitchen and three ATV's. The week started off great, cold a dusting of snow. Our anticipation of giant 6x6 bulls and elk running everywhere was very high. All five of us had either sex tags so we knew we were coming home with coolers full of elk meat.

As the week wore on, the temperatures soared! Temperatures in the middle 70's kept the elk away or in hiding. In short, only one of us even SAW an elk. I believe that had I been hunting Sasquatch or a Triceratops my odds would have been just as good.

We hunted from 11,500 feet of elevation down to just below 8,000 feet of elevation and could not find fresh elk sign, and no elk. Averaging eight miles a day and we could not find them anywhere. In total we were spread out across several miles of terrain and none of us could find any elk.

For four of the five days I rose at 4:30 and hunted past dark. Stalking, sitting and glassing. Watching open meadows, moving through dark timber. Calling, nothing seemed to work. We determined after a week of hunting hard that the Rocky Mountain Elk is extinct.

It is during these difficult hunts that I am reminded of why I hunt. Sure I am after a big animal, and some meat for my freezer. But more importantly it is for the adventure and friendships that are made.

I love hunting the high country. The Rocky Mountains have a hold on my soul and I love being out there in the high country. I enjoy chasing different animals in different areas. I am thrilled with the pursuit, the challenge of hunting and hunting hard for an animal I know little about.

So while I have hunted elk several times, and have yet to SEE an elk on a hunt. I will continue to hunt them and other animals. I will continue to pursue the passion. Continue to travel to the high country and the Rocky Mountains and other regions across this country. I will not be deterred. As Gene Hill once quipped "At home a friend will ask, “Been [elk] hunting?” You will say that you have, and when he asks,” Have any luck?” You will think of what you have held in your heart instead of your hand, and then answer that you certainly did—without a doubt." 

So yes, my heart is full if my cooler is not. I am thankful for the opportunity to hunt, to pursue and to live my passion. And the full heart is why I hunt in the first place.