Normally I’d have articulated my expectations of an upcoming hunt of this stature, but I didn’t get around to it pre-hunt. That said, this hunt is in the regular rotation at this point, and my expectations had not changed any from the prior adventure in 2014. Any legal elk with a few extra parameters thrown in was my goal, and the expectations were high. Put in the time/work, opportunities should present themselves. Just in Pete and I’s elk hunting history together, our last 6 either-sex archery elk tags have gone on 6 archery bulls. AKA: expectations were high!
Physically, my back has recovered from this spring’s firewood cutting incident, and I was confident that I’d be able to survive whatever the mountains could toss at me. Mentally, it was a whirlwind of busyness to get ready for this hunt, and even now, on the backside of the trip’s return, I’m swamped with responsibilities as the Wyoming antelope trip looms on the horizon. Not sure my killer instinct was on its razor-edge heading out, but nothing a little fresh elk scat and screaming bugles won’t inflame.
The drive out started at 4 PM on Saturday September 10th, leaving my in-law’s house in North Carolina. Pete stopped in from his place in VA and we struck out on the straight-through marathon drive to SW Colorado. Somewhere along the way, we pit-stopped to purchase our elk license from a Colorado Walmart, and the trip was without incident. No vehicle issues, no traffic, safe driving despite the bumpy road sleep, a good trip.
Our was to, and our successful road trip out enabled us to, climb a nearby mountain facing into several of the drainages we hoped to hunt with a couple hours of daylight left. This was a great idea on several fronts. (A) We were able to spot a hunting camp, a train of pack horses, an orange-clad muzzleloader hunter, some mule deer, and a veritable absence of elk from over 2 miles away – relevant and recent information for our route planning. (B) We had a nice warm-up climb with acclimatization sleep at 11,000′ elevation before our hunt officially started early the next morning. I had a ferocious headache by the end of last trip’s first day, and I hoped this proactive step would help alleviate my concerns of a relapse/repeat.
Despite the lack of elk sightings from afar, we were excited to sleeping on top of a mountain, and we went to sleep expecting great things of the next 8-10 days.