Unless you’ve been living in a galaxy far, far, away, you’ve probably noticed that we are a nation divided. We’ve become a country of Republicans vs. Democrats, conservatives vs. liberals and Red vs. Blue instead of the collective Red, White and Blue. And if you made it through the 2016 election without losing at least half of your Facebook friends, well done. Yet, politics aside, there is a common thread that binds us all as Americans, and I believe great things are in store for our nation’s future despite our perceived differences.
Although not as dramatic or polarizing, I see a similar division among sportsmen these days. I see fly fishermen who berate those who spinfish; hunters who attack fellow hunters (especially women) for harvesting mountain lions or bears; archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunters who bicker about which method of take is the most noble; and catch-and-release advocates who bash someone for legally keeping a fish or two for the dinner table. Read more
It is 3 a.m., and my dad is ready to head out. After weeks of anticipation, the time had finally come. Finally, I was going on my first hunting trip for a mule deer. After jumping out of bed, stuffing my face with whatever breakfast was available, I boarded our van. We had started packing the evening before for a weekend of hunting and camping under the stars, and now it was finally time for the adventure to begin.
A distance of 105 miles from my home in Highlands Ranch awaited our hunting spot; Kremmling, Colorado . It was still dark at 6 a.m. when we reached our youth hunt coordinator, Ted Zagone’s, quiet residential subdivision. Mr. and Mrs. Zagone were very welcoming. Mrs. Shelly Zagone offered us hot chocolate, coffee and sandwiches. Mrs. Zagone showed me the pictures of her son who serves in the United States Navy. She was so proud of him and missed him so much. I felt so happy for her and hoped that I would make my parents feel proud someday of my accomplishments.
It’s 15 minutes before last light on the final day of the season. You’re hunting alone and still trying to fill your tag. As your mind pours all its energy into flexing your senses to the max, you notice movement; then an ear; then a head; and finally the full body of your four-legged quarry making its way out of shadow-dappled trees and into your view some 350 yards away.
You confirm your target with binoculars then settle into the appropriate shooting position, aim, and gently, but purposefully, press the trigger. The animal goes 25 yards and drops. You smile, your heart races and you take 10 minutes to collect your thoughts. It’s now rather dark but you’re not concerned. You grab your headlamp and eagerly head to the animal only to discover that you can’t find it. You spend the next hour searching but come up empty handed–not even a drop of blood.
You go back to camp and spend a sleepless night wondering what happened. The next morning you find the animal more than 200 yards away from where you thought you saw it drop. Embarrassed and frustrated, you quickly void your carcass tag, get the animal field dressed and start packing it out. Thank goodness none of the meat has spoiled. Read more
One of my most-treasured inherited pieces is a hand-colored photo of a hunting party, most likely from the 1940s. Seventeen hunters proudly pose with 17 deer — my grandfather is third from the left. The man standing second from the right pops out from the crowd — bow tie, crisp white shirt and apron, and in place of the rifles all the others are holding, he grips the largest frying pan I have ever seen. Both Grandad and the frying pan come to mind as I start the night’s meal: peppered deer steaks.
These are not just any ol’ deer steaks, but backstrap meat from the first doe I ever harvested. The first deer I ever gutted and butchered, and the first game meat I ever processed. Those in the growing Locavore movement would call it a meal of “fresh, locally sourced, organically raised, in-season protein” . . . or, as Grandad would have called it, “supper.”
Just like the deer from the photo, this wasn’t a one-man tale of hunting. Over the last few years, my buddy Alex has been a hunting mentor giving valuable advice in the field, and hands-on instruction with skinning and butchering. And Sheila Lewis, or who I prefer to call Mom, lent her hands and years of wisdom processing and wrapping the steaks, roasts and stew meat. Even the steak recipe I’ll describe below was handed down by Dennis McKinney from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife video crew. Read more
Did you know that Colorado offers some of the best big-game hunting in North America? Whether you’re an experienced hunter seeking a new adventure or a complete beginner who is looking to participate in your very first elk hunt, here are five reasons why you should hunt big game in Colorado this fall:
Each fall, the Colorado landscape beckons orange-clad elk hunters with brilliant vistas, frosty mornings and shadowy hints of stout bulls lurking in the treelines. The state boasts the largest number of elk in the U.S., migrating through an expanse of wilderness that can mete out as much punishment as it can glory.
For beginning hunters or those new to Colorado’s licensing process, sometimes the mountain isn’t the most daunting part of the hunt. Deciding which license to buy and navigating the application process can give some new hunters a lost, sinking feeling.
From the various acronyms (you have a CID, you’re aware of CWD, you may want an OTC license to hunt BLM or STL properties…), to hunt code tables (Do you apply for an EE-005-O1-M? Or an EE-006-O2-R?), the process to get the license you want may seem more difficult than the hunt.