- By Rich Miller
As a kid growing up, all I did was think about hunting and fishing any chance I could get. It started out with tin cans and a BB gun, and grew to squirrels and doves from there. The more I got to hunt, the bigger the game that I would think about hunting. When I finally got the opportunity to go deer hunting I thought I had arrived and I still feel that way every time I get the chance to go in the woods. Before the hunting television age came along, I remember hearing and reading hunting stories from others who had traveled across the country chasing big game and remember thinking “maybe one day.” Of all the stories of places traveled and game that guys hunted, there was one thing that stuck in my mind and that I have always dreamed of doing and that is going to Colorado elk hunting.For as many years as I can remember my hunting partner from Kansas, Mick Bowman, and I have been talking about hunting elk one day; but like most hunters, price and know-how has held us back. We always said when we did it we were going to do it together on our own. So this past March while I was at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundations National Convention in Reno, Nevada, I found an opportunity to finally get the chance to elk hunt in Colorado. The place I found was Adventure Experiences, Inc. in Almont, CO. They offered a non-guided hunt with the lodging and meals. Also, if we were lucky enough to take an elk, they would help in getting it out.
After months of planning and preparation – plus a lifetime of anticipation – the hunt finally happened last week. I flew to Kansas City and met up with Mick; then we drove 13 hours to the camp from there. We were really excited about getting to live out a dream, but we were also worrying a lot about how our bodies were going to handle the altitude. We were hunting the opening week of the season and all of the elk are still up high above tree line. When I say above tree line, that is those peaks at the tops of the mountains where nothing grows, somewhere between twelve and thirteen thousand feet. We arrived in camp a day early to get a little scouting done and hopefully let our bodies adjust to doing without half the oxygen they were used too.
Friday morning our plan was to sleep as long as possible to get as much rest as possible before the hunt started. Well, I was two hours behind so sleeping was something that didn’t come easy for me after about three in the morning. After breakfast that morning Mick and I found a good-looking spot on the map and since we were the “do-it-yourself guys” and didn’t have a guide scouting for us, we needed to get out and find something for the next morning’s hunt. According to my GPS the area we going to hunt were about eight miles from the camp, but when we got in the truck and drove it ended up being thirty-four miles by road. After parking the truck way short of where we should have (and walking about four miles farther than necessary) we started finding some signs of elk.
We had been walking and scouting several hours and were a long way from the truck when we cut through the woods to hit the road again at the top of the hill. When we came out of the woods – to our surprise or disappointment, whichever you want to call it – there was a campsite there. There was a truck there and a lot of gear, but no one was there to see if they were hunters or not. We ended up at the end of that road and dropped off in the timber there. We spent the rest of the afternoon scouting that area and found a lot of good elk signs that gave us high hopes for the next morning.
On the way out, we went back by the camp that we had found earlier and there was a guy there – and man was he a character! He was from Oklahoma and planned on spending the whole elk season camped in the mountains. The good thing about him being there was we got to find out where he would be the next morning so we wouldn’t interfere with each other. Also, he offered to give us a ride back to our truck, which was about six miles down the mountain; bless his heart! We eventually made it back to the lodge that night and at supper loaded up on carbs and water to try and help overcome the altitude problems our bodies were feeling. After dinner, everyone in camp talked about the plans for the upcoming day and then I settled in to try and get some sleep if I could stop thinking about putting an arrow in the bull of my dreams.
(To be continued)