Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Janis' Colorado 2nd Rifle Season OTC Elk with KUIU

Colorado OTC 2nd Rifle Season Elk with KUIU

     The snow in the high country was crunchy and the moon was in full bloom.  I had seven days to kill a cow and a bull elk.  Normally not the season I choose to hunt in CO because the woods are as crowded as they come, but my work schedule dictated those dates, so I made the most of it.
     Since filling the freezer is as important (if not more) as chasing antlers for me and my family, I gave myself two days to find a mature bull, and after that the focus would switch to tender vittles.  I glassed hard, spent the night out at 11,000 ft a couple nights, but the old boy eluded my gaze.

     The morning of day 4 I glassed up a group of 15 elk and made a plan for the evening.  The wind cooperated, the plan was executed and I had a cow down.  With great friends I had her packed out late the next day with enough time for an evening glass; however, it did not produce.

     The morning of day 5 found me on one of favorite glassing benches looking across the valley at 4 bulls and 5 cows. 

 "Perfect", I thought.  I hunted them hard for the next two days with not a hair to show for it.  They just slipped away; as elk tend to do.  Luckily for me, a friend had been doing some glassing nearby and reported a small bunch of elk with a couple of bulls in it.  
     For the final afternoon hunt of the season, I made the push to where the elk had been seen the eve before.  3 miles in, 2,000 ft up; it was here, where after the barrage of pressure that comes with CO's 2nd season, that the elk were holed up.  With 30 minutes to spare in the season, as I crept along a high bluff, I heard the faint "click, clack, click, clack" of young bulls sparring.  I peeked over the next rise and two hundred yards below the herd was feeding happily, having darn near made it through the brunt of the hunting season.  I said a quick "thank you" for the opportunity.

    I did not kill the biggest bull on the mountain this year, but by having gear that allowed me to hunt hard, hiking 5-10 miles a day, carrying camp on my back at times, traveling from 8 k-11 k ft often twice in a day, I managed to fill both of my tags.  I simply was not as weighed down.  Carrying ten extra pounds on a simple day hike is manageable, but multiply those ten pounds over seven days of hunting and you've literally carried tons more weight.  This adds up on the knees, the back, the thighs, and can sway your decision on day seven.  Go on one more elk hunt or stay at home on the couch and catch the Sunday night game?  Thanks to KUIU's lightweight gear, my legs are always game for one more elk hunt.


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