Elk Hunting

Camp site in San Juan NF

Colorado Hunt September 2000

Dad and I had discussed returning to Colorado and trying to find some easier terrain to hunt. We were given some information for an area in Rifle Colorado. We decided not to carry a four-wheeler this time to make the drive a little easier. We finally arrived in Rifle after a couple of days driving. The terrain was much easier, but as we were told the dark timber was not evident like we had grown accustomed to in Steamboat and San Juan. There were areas of dark timber, but we could not find public land that was easily accessible. We hunted for three days and decided to go back to the San Juan National forest. We knew we would lose a day, but we also knew some places that we would start hunting immediately. The weather turned rainy and cold and we thought this might be good for the rut. We saw numerous elk on the way and finally arrived at the familiar site. We set up camp and without a four-wheeler knew we would have a long walk each day.

On the first day out we heard a few elk bugle for only a short time and all seemed to be down in the bottoms. We had to find a way to hunt them, so we made our way down the mountain and hunted the rest of first day with no luck. We decided to relocate the second day and make our way into the bottom from the upper end. The walk would be a little longer, but we would have relatively flat terrain to travel. After about 3 miles up the creek I left Dad at a heavy crossing. I continued for about another half mile and set up to cow call occasionally. After hunting most of the morning with no luck, I made my way back to my Dad. He told me he had called a small bull in but couldn't get a shot. We hiked back out only to find orange vested muzzle loaders all over the place. I guess everyone wanted an easy accessible area to hunt. We made our way back to camp and traveled to Delores for a well deserved shower and good night sleep. We returned the next morning and tried the same area with no luck. Too many muzzle loading hunters. Ready for a change we decided to fish a little and take the evening off. We found a nice little place to fish and also hunt for the next morning.

We arrived at the new spot the next morning and made our way in the dark up the mountain where we thought the elk might be. After not hearing anything, Dad set up and I continued to work my way around the mountain. I saw lots of sign and set up several times to call, but never saw or heard anything. I worked my way back around the top of the mountain and eventually met my Dad back at the creek crossing before noon. This was an excellent place, but the elk were in a lull and as everyone knows, silent elk just aren't fun to hunt. We traveled to Dolores to meet some friends we had met the previous year. We were invited to hunt an area near there the next day if we wanted to, so we decided break camp and return to hunt in that area for the last day before returning to Georgia. Again, no elk but enough memories to last forever. As they say, you don't go out west hunting and expect to kill an elk every time, otherwise you would be let down quite a bit. But you go expecting to enjoy the sights, the sounds, the smells, and the fellowship. Until next time, we'll enjoy the past memories!

Derek in Rifle Harold in Rifle

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