So, a Friday or so ago I was sitting at my desk at work when I got a call from a buddy in Denver. "Hey", he says, "Chris is on the mountain and he can't find you guys." I respond "Well, that's because the season doesn't start until next week." After a little discussion, I checked the proclamation to discover, to my dismay, that our elk season started in about sixteen hours rather than in a week. I'm not certain how or when I mis-calendared the hunt, but it was months ago and I was caught a bit flat-footed. I've never done anything like that before and hope never to make such a mistake again. As soon as I got home I threw things together in preparation for the hunt.
Booker makes his bid to pack his toy and have the dog go, too:
Despite staking out the duffel with the hunting clothes and staying right with it, he was unsuccessful in that request. Early the next morning, I headed north and west.
and over the mountains:
I got to Grand Junction, where my father flew in. Unfortunately, his duffel (with boots, sleeping bag, and other necessities) didn't make the flight and he had to make the four hour trip to retrieve it the next day. In the meantime, racing fading daylight, we headed up into the hunt area.
Up the canyon, where we saw bighorn sheep:
We haven't seen the sheep in there before. I'm not sure if they're recently transplanted or we just got lucky. I'll have to see if the DOW has anything on its web site. We also saw a covey of chukar down in the private lands in the canyon, but they were a bit too fast to get any photos of them. Such pretty birds, and large, too.
In any event, we got on up into hunting country:
and met up with our hunting companion and got set up. The next morning, we headed out into bluebird weather to hunt. It's big country up there, miles of oakbrush, aspen, pinyon and even spruce:
Even with lots of hunters, they kind of disappear into the space. Look in the center for the little orange dot:
Here's a little spring that was dug out probably forty years ago. The track leading up to it had trees five inches thick growing in it:
The water lies right up behind where we camp and the draw next to it nearly always has bear scat and turkey sign in it. That was true this year, which appears to be a very good one for acorns and pinyon nuts, which ought to help all the wildlife carry through the winter well.
I say a small bunch of cow elk at a bit over 500 yards, but they headed another direction and I wasn't able to get closer to them. Apart from close encounters with a couple of mule deer bucks, that was about it for game for me. My father picked up some grouse and our buddy had one great evening where he saw several elk including a couple of nice bulls. No elk were harmed on this hunt, though. The grouse had crops full of acorns and rose hips, which ought to make for some very tasty birds.
Glad I have a back-up elk hunt in NM next month. Now I just need to check the dates on that again.
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