Outdoor Adventures with Gary Lee – Vol. 26
Before we go hunting out west, there are issues right here near home caused by the big storm last Thursday. Flooding of epic proportions and trees blown down on power lines, homes and camps by fifty and sixty miles an hour winds, which blew well into the following day. Many roads were washed out and still closed today, 11/4, including Route 30 from Indian Lake to Speculator, and Route 8 from Piseco to Route 365. Several roads in Essex County were washed out and closed. Back woods travel on trails were closed, as many foot bridges and water crossings would have been dangerous over the weekend. Persons traveling on both highways and foot trails should check before going to see if the routes they wish to travel are open and passable.
I heard from several people that rain fall amounts were three to six inches in just a short period of time, and maybe up to twelve inches in the total storm. This was on top of ground already saturated with rains during the week prior. Much infrastructure shall have to be repaired in the next few weeks before winter sets in.
Out at our hunting camp north of Kremmling, Colorado, we all had our places to go that first morning of the hunt. Some spots weren’t very far from the road we drove in on. That road was also being used by a company testing the structure of the dam on the Matheson Reservoir. These vehicles were driving right through our hunting area, which I believe moved some of the animals out. We did have a miss of a bull elk that first day, which may have been moved out of the woods into the meadow where it was shot at. Just after I heard the vehicle coming down the road from my watch, two shots were taken, but missed. We saw some mule deer, but no bucks that first day. Many had taken long walks and not seen much in the way of tracks or elk activity. I jumped an elk on one of my routes, but it didn’t go toward my grandson’s watch.
We had about fifteen or twenty mule deer in the front yard every night, but mostly does. One night, a nice buck showed up, along with a smaller buck, and was chasing around the does. The next night, one of our members, Bruce Howard, sat out where this buck was seen coming out and downed the 4x4 with a great three hundred yard shot in a snowstorm. The snow continued for the next three days, almost non-stop, until it was almost knee deep. We could see the mule deer traveling to lower ground from right outside the back window of camp, but they were over six hundred yards away.
We hunted for three days, seeing only a few mule deer and no elk or elk tracks. It was like they had all left the high country to get to lower ground, where they could find something to eat. It was tough traveling in knee deep snow without snowshoes. Then Lynn Howard found an elk track crossing the road, so he and Brian Lowe chased after the track, traveling about two miles going downhill into a place called Boone’s Hole and they left it there about dark, not ever seeing the animal.
My grandson Jake went up the trail from camp and found lots of mule deer sign. While looking for the trail, he saw something odd. It didn’t look like a tree branch, but was sticking out of the snow. He pulled on it and out came a beautiful Shiras moose antler that had been lost by the animal last winter. It was a great find, almost as good as getting a buck. Looking at my trail camera pictures from last year, it looks like an antler off the bull in one of my photographs. He hopes to get a picture painted on the antler for a wall hanger.
Jake and a few others went up where he had seen all the tracks the day before. They got a few shots at running deer over three hundred yards up hill and missed a couple of smaller bucks. I went over the mountain, as the road was well packed down and only six degrees, but the sun was out. I tried a couple watches, but the wind was wrong, so I settled on Dale’s watch, where he had missed the first day. Lots of mule deer tracks and one had laid down right in front of the log the night before. I was there about two hours and one of our trucks went by taking a load of gear out to the trailers. I said to myself “now I don’t have to walk back the two miles to camp.” Not much later, a cow elk walked into the meadow, then another about two hundred yards away. Eventually there was a total of eleven: three spike bulls, two calves and the rest cows. I waited until one cow got out in front and fired. I heard the hit, but all the elk ran across the meadow. I fired twice more at the lead cow and they went out of sight. I said to myself “surely my shirt tail will be cut off now.” I walked down to where I had shot, and there was a lot of blood on the snow. I only followed her about five hundred feet, where she had gone uphill and died within three hundred feet of the road.
I went to the top of the hill to get radio contact to camp so they could come out and help with the carryout of meat, but left my pack in the road where you could see the elk. When I got back down to start the cutting up the cow, the truck had come back in, and Glenn Candee, Bruce Howard and Bruce Potts had the cow just about cut up. The camp truck arrived and all I had to do was watch, as Jake carried a hind quarter to the road. That ended the hunt in a beautiful part of Colorado.
Locally, the bucks are in rut and beginning to chase does, but that’s another story. See ya.
Shot from Dale’s watch