2010 has been amazing year!
All of the hunts chronicled on this page are DIY (Do it Yourself) unguided, on public land.
By Dave & Donnelle
I started my 2010 archery hunt alone ( I usually hunt with someone, just didn't work out this hunt) in an area that I had known to have alot of elk. There has been substantial beetle kill in the unit I was hunting so I did notice some patterns being different this year. Ultimately what killed my first morning hunt was well meaning folks nearby using a chainsaw getting firewood for the winter. I didn't hear or see a thing opening morning.
I decided to goto a brand new area on the opening evening hunt. I was able to hear a few bulls by throwing out a cow call. This would turn out to be a great place for me to come back and visit the following weekend.
My 2nd four day weekend turned out to very eventful, yet not fruitful. I called in four 6x6 bull elk, but was only able to shoot at two of them. After shooting over two 6x6 bull elk's shoulders I came home disappointed. When I went back out to my 3D target range to verify my accuracy I found that my peep side had slid down about an inch, causing me to shoot high. The good news is, no one got hurt and we fixed the problem. I was disappointed at the missed opportunities but did not give up looking for more elk.
I went back to my unit on Tuesday of the last week of my archery hunt. I hunting five more days in mostly silent woods. Not much sign. The bulls had moved out of the areas where they were in the previous weeks. I was starting to wonder if this would be one of those seaons where you talk about how much fun it was just to be in the woods. I didn't want that.
We moved back into a valley I had hunted 6 years ago with my buddy Chuck. Sunday morning we heard two bugles and that was all. The wind was wrong so our expectations were low. I came across a meadow and remembered the patterns we had seen 6 years ago. Instead of heading out and home in the afternoon, we decided to stay for the evening hunt. Dave didn't object because he had his fishing pole. The area I wanted to hunt was above his favorite stretch of water in Colorado. While I was hunting he caught 8 fish. 3 were over 18 inches including 1 22 inch brown. But that's another story (pic below).
45 minutes before sun down the bulls started to lite up, then they got hot. We were doing estrus calls and had bulls coming in from our left and right. They were in competition. I saw the first bull and got interested. He was a small 6 but it was late. A third bull came in between the first two and I was shaking with excitement. He was a nice 6. I stuck him at about 30 yards. I don't remember much about the shot except the sound. Its unmistakable. I had my archery 6 by 6 on the last day, 20 minutes before dark!
Talk about waiting until the last minute! As I said Dave was down on the valley floor fishing when I shot him (the bull, not Dave). I radio'd him to give him the good news. We created a different bugle, 3 shorts, so Dave would know where we were. He needed to hike up and fulfill his chirpa duties (a chirpa calls elk then hauls them out, a variation on the whole shirpa thing). There were so many bulls bugling we had to devise a way for him to distinguish between the real thing and us. What was funny was the bulls went nuts over the 3 shorts. During the first two hours of cleaning the elk several bulls came in close enough to hear the twigs snapping between bugles. The wind was right and for some reason the combination of us talking and the 3 shorts set the bulls on fire. We also chirped a little just to try out different things and play with them. Of course, they were in rutt so they were stupid but we had over 10 bulls come in on us while we were cleaning my bull. Yes, 10. It was fun to be in what one of our friends called a "target rich environment". It only took about 15 days of hunting to get there!
As always, this season brought great memories with family and friends. Hunting has been such a great hobby to bring us closer to each other and encounter the many elements of nature. Thanks to all of you that made this 2010 season a great success in many, many ways! We have the opportunity to hunt in one of the greatest places on the earth! Tell us your story! Email us (click here).
Our friend Erick, shot his 1st 6x6 bull elk on opening Rifle season morning.
Dave the Chirpa - started back out at 3am. He has the backstraps and tenderloins in a pack on his back...to support the head! We got out at 6am, slept 4 hours then headed back in at 10am. Another long day but that's why we do it.
Donnelle and Robbie headed up to hunt one final time. Dave stayed down in the valley and fished, waiting for news of the hunt. Dave landed 8 trout, rainbows and browns. 4 of them were 18 inches plus. He snapped a picture of this one as support for the rest of his story. He released all 8 including this big guy.
Here's the scoop on the moose. I scounted the unit with my son a total of 7 days during 3 trips during the summer. We identified 4 areas where there had been moose kills. I used my own HuntData tools to plot the kill sites. I was curious about two things: which hunters had used a guide, and second, where were the most recent kills.
I was curious about the guide factor because I knew a guide license was for a particular area and, if I guide was there one year there is a strong chance he or she will be there the next. It turns out the area with the most kills over the past 3 years were all guided. With good reason, the biggest bull had been taken out of the area with the guide - but that was 3 years ago. The area was still good, but I wanted a mature bull. So, I again used my own product. I used BigGameCD to plot the kill sites by year. I noticed that one area in particular had traditionally had kills, but none in the past 5 years. Bingo, this is a place with potential for a mature bull. I thought the area with the guide held a lot of moose, but chances are the more mature bulls had been taken.
My son and I headed up to scout the area without kills for the past 5 years. We saw sign but didn't see any bulls. I had hope because of the sign, but, it was a gamble with a once-in-a-lifetime hunt.
I was torn, go to the area the guide was in or strike out into an area where I suspected I'd see a mature bull. I chose the latter. I struck gold in the town of Creede. The grill master at the local hamburger shack called me "moose man" because he had seen me several times, not that I hit the burgers that much.....but anyway. We struck up a conversation and he told me he fished the area I was scouting and there was a big moose. He saw him on a stretch of private land a lot but the bull worked the valley, all of the way up to the Continental Divide where it was public. Bingo.
I scouted the area again and it was obvious there were moose. During the last week of archery Donnelle had her bull tag and I was with her scouting the unit. We hunted one drainage over from where I intended to hunt and ran into a nice young bull. The season hadn't started yet and I was already anxious. I made up my mind I'd come back for the young bull if I didn't score in the first week.
The season came and I found myself up hunting alone. I let a couple of friends know where I was going to hunt and headed up to the continental divide. Opening morning, a Friday, I didn't see a thing. A beautiful morning but nothing.
That afternoon a fried of mine, Mark, came up to hunt with me. He and I headed back up Friday evening to see what we could see. Mark headed to an area with some small ponds and I headed up to the Continental Divide. I didn't see anything while it was light.....
I was walking down at about 10pm doing a moose call, which sounds like the sound you make when you smash your shin on the hitch on the back of your truck. Less the expletives. I had watched a couple of moose videos and even bought a call but I found I could make the call better vocally. So, I was making a call and as I approached a stream I heard an odd sound. At first I thought it was frogs but not up there. I called a couple more times and realized a bull moose was answering me. I could barely hear him over the stream but he was there. I was on top of the world. He was on a bench about 11,800 ft. moving up down and around. I didn't want him to come in on me completely at night so I backed down and finished the treck to my truck.
Mark got back and I shared the news, I was pumped to have heard my first moose call in the wild, and, the fact that he answered me was just awesome.
Saturday morning we changed plans slightly. On Friday morning I went in before dawn and was in position by first daylight. On Saturday, I decided to wait until light and drive up the valley then walk. I wanted to see what was moving. It worked, we bumped a herd of deer, then a herd of elk. Then we bumped a cow moose. It alarmed me a little. As soon as she saw me she took off at a full run. I didn't expect the moose to be so jumpy.
Up the trail we headed. I was suggesting to Mark that he take the West side of the valley, climb up across from where the bull was Friday night and call. He would get the bull to vocalize then I'd work my way up below him. Then I said the magic words "that is unless he has the courtesy to come to us". Mark said, "there he is". I turned to my right and the bull was walking down about 200 yards from us. He was oblivious to our presence and not in a real hurry.
I looked in my scope and thought "not very big, kind of lanky". That was because of his huge frame supported by some long legs. I took a first shot. He stopped for about 20 seconds. Then he slowly turned and started walking uphill. Later I could see it was a lung shot but he was still moving. I had studied the anatomy of a moose and interestingly enough, the heart is at the top of the leg. For elk, it would not be a good shot, it would be a shot into the shoulder blade. But on a moose, its a heart shot. I took my second shot based on the charts (not as nervous now) I aimed at the top of the leg and squeezed a second shot. This time he collapsed. It was a heart shot.
I knew he had horns but didn't know how big. As I was walking to him I remember thinking "any moose is a good moose" thinking I had a small young one. Wrong. He was a mature male, one solid horn on each side. 44" was not a record but he had broken the back side of his horns. Who knows how many more inches he would have had if he had not thrashed everything in site with his horns. You can see the black leathery flesh on the right side of the photo below, he was still in what I would call velvet. That part of his horn was still soft. The nubs on the top of the horn to the right were flopping back and forth. He had grass hanging from the middle of one horn where he had split it. The butcher estimated he went 900-1,000 lbs. I'm a little over 6'2" and weigh 280 give or take a lunch and wear a 54" suit coat. He was big. I couldn't get my arms around his neck. Absolutely huge.
Mark and I had all we could do to move him around. Once I caped him it took both of us to move his head and cape.
For some reason I was under the impression that the moose would need to be made into sausage because of a strong taste. Thankfully the butcher convinced me otherwise. Moose is the most mild tasting wild game I've ever had. You cannot distinguish between moose and beef except for the grease. It is greasy, but, the grease keeps it moist during cooking and it is absolutely fabulous. I even prefer it to elk. Its that good.
Thanks again to my friend Mark for helping me find him and get him out. I could not have done it alone! That reminds me, I probably need to get a few steaks to him.....
And, during the week of 12/6 Dave took a buck. In the interest of full disclosure, this buck was taken on private land. For the first time in 12 years I decided to hunt on my own property (Dave). I took this buck in the field below my house just before dark. I tried to take him with my bow but had an extreme case of buck fever. I reduced the fever by giving the buck a lead injection with my 7 mag. He wasn't very wide but had great height and nice brow tines. The brow tines on a mule deer are usually pretty small. He's a 5x6. The 5 side is facing you. The 6 side had a cheater by my left hand and another up toward the top of #4. What a year!
Not to be greedy but this is the guy I was waiting for....saw him before the season
Archery and other Video!
Click on the image for the
|Donnelle's first archery hunt (first
15 minutes!) Donnelle's first archery cow And when you have a cow tag...
( All on Public
|Herd headed up the side of a mountain