I drew my elk tag for muzzleloader in 2018, this was the first time using a muzzleloader for elk. Got this guy on the second day of the season, after not hearing or seeing an elk on the first day. The day started out great. When we got to our hunting area there were elk bugling all around us. I harvested my elk around 12 noon, after stalking him into the timber and finding him feeding with some cows. An 85 yd shot. First time hunting unit 14.
September in Colorado brings cooler mornings, the color change of Aspen leaves in the mountains, the fascination with pumpkin spice everything and most importantly, archery season. This year I got my first elk tag for a draw unit. In years prior, I hunted with an over the counter tag. The excitement of this hunt dwindled some as the summer passed due to the dozens of wildfires and severe drought. Hunting, in general, would be more difficult; I was going to have to work for it if I wanted a chance at harvesting a bull.
With the 2018 big-game season in our sights, it’s a great time to take a look back to some of the hunter testimonials that were recently submitted by proud hunters. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this collection of testimonial tells an impressive story about successful wildlife conservation that is supported by your hunting and angling fees. Please enjoy the following hunter testimonials, which celebrate another great year in the Colorado outdoors!
Chet Blue Sky and Wayne Gardner with bull elk.
Hunter: Chet Blue Sky
Chet Blue Sky with bull elk and good friend Wayne Gardner. Both cashed in 15 preference points in the “Ranching For Wildlife” program on the Three Forks Ranch in GMU 5. Read more
Alexa with her first turkey. Photo by Derek Vaughan
Hunter: Alexa Vaughan
The night before my first turkey hunt I was nervous and excited. That day I had just completed my hunter safety course and went and got my turkey license. I was eleven years old and it was my first hunt ever. I had practiced shooting a few days before and felt confident with my gun, a single-shot, 20-gauge shotgun. My Dad and I went out opening morning April 8th outside Durango in GMU 75. We settled into our blind. My dad was calling in the turkeys and I was holding my gun. We had only been waiting 20 minutes when a lone tom came strutting in. I slowly raised my gun. My hands were shaking so bad that I bumped the barrel on the blind opening. The sudden sound scared the Tom and he began to turn away. I took a deep breath and placed my sight on his head. An ear-splitting boom filled the morning air. We collected the turkey and marked my tag. It was a good day and the meat he provided we ate on Easter.
Chris Pangburn and his 2016 bull. Photo by Dale Rush.
Hunter: Chris Pangburn
I began planning my moose hunt 10 years ago. I didn’t know anything about moose, but a friend told me it was hard to draw a tag, so I thought I better get started applying.For the next five years I applied for preference points thinking someday I would apply for an actual moose tag. About then I met Dale Rush and he told me that he had harvested a moose in 2008 and that I needed to apply for an actual tag because it’s hard to get drawn. Well 2016 was my year.
Dale joined me on my hunt in early October. We hunted tree lines along willow-heavy meadows the first day and saw nothing. The second morning we spotted a cow moose alone in a meadow just before the weather turned and the snow came. We hunkered down out of the fierce wind and snow until late afternoon and spotted a small bull playing near a creek like he was the only one for a hundred miles around. The wind was so brutal that at sunset we nearly ran back to camp. On day three we hiked the tree line around other meadows until we began seeing tracks in the snow. After a couple of hours we saw this 44-inch bull following a cow into the middle of an open meadow. Just like that, I took a single quartering shot at 150-yards with my 300 Weatherby Mag. It was a great hunt with a good friend that I’ll never forget.
Ava Nelson, 16, is all smiles after harvesting her first elk near Aspen.
Hunter: Ava Nelson
My day began at 3 a.m. when I thought, “What did I get myself into?” This was my second day of hunting for a bull elk with a muzzleloader. My dad and I figured we would try another spot that he knew since we were unsuccessful the first day. I promptly got out of bed and took a shower and got dressed in camo. My lunch was already packed so we were ready to rock and roll.
It was pitch dark outside on Sept. 11, 2016 for our 60-minute commute to the trailhead. My dad and I arrived at 4:30 a.m. and began hiking on a trail that started out easy but gradually got more difficult. We were about half way to the spot when it got daylight. We circled around to the spot where my dad thought there would be elk. This required some cliff scaling and some balancing skills. When we finally got there, the wind was not in our favor. My dad called a few times and a bull elk bugled back. Unfortunately, the bull did not sound like he was too interested and eventually stopped answering us. Read more
Photo by: Brandon KilstadAfter my father had unexpected surgery, I worked to put together an elk hunt for my dad and my son. The draw deadline had passed, so I focused on over-the-counter (OTC) units with public land, choosing one in the San Juan Mountains. Summer scouting revealed one bull that stood out among the others. My Dad took a 5X5 on opening morning then it began to snow so I hunted close to camp. During a break in the clouds, I spotted a herd and the big bull several valleys away. I headed out well before daylight and hiked about 8 miles at 12,000 feet. Nearing the basin, a few cows came over the ridge and pinned me down above tree line. While I lay there, the storm worsened with howling wind and lightening. When the cows fed off, I bolted for the trees to get out of the wind. Then I spotted the rest of the herd coming over the ridge, including the big bull. I crawled out from behind the trees and went prone with my rifle steadied on the bipod. I struggled to see through the snow with the scope, and scooped snow out of the scope repeatedly. As he was entering a drainage, I was able to see well enough to pick out the big bull against the snow. One shot at 425 yards with my .338 Ultra Mag put him down at 12,167 feet. We all returned the next day with a camera and horses to pack him out.
The morning started off slower than I had anticipated. By 9 a.m. I had made my way up to about 10,800 feet and had yet to hear a bugle. It was a discouraging start to the morning. The previous day I had bulls bugling at first light. My initial thought was I had pushed them out of the area. I decided to swing back into the valley below me, where I had heard a few bulls the previous morning.
Check out these great hunter success stories from 2015:
Hunter: John Reed
I’m a 10-year Colorado resident and I’ve lived here since I was two. I have been hunting since I was nine, and have bagged ducks, rabbits, grouse and turkeys. Now I can add my first big-game animal to my list: A Colorado elk.
I was hunting with my dad on public land in the Flat Tops Wilderness. We backpacked in and hunted hard every day. We saw several elk that were running or were too far away, called in a young bull moose and even saw a big bull moose grunting at a cow only about 20 yards from us. On the third day we got up before 4 a.m. and hiked to a high-elevation meadow where we saw a few elk feeding. I crawled on my stomach through rocks and brambles, up to a small rise where I made a 170-yard shot on a feeding cow elk with my 7mm-08. It ran 20 yards before falling perfectly on flat ground with her head resting on a rock.