We've already killed a deer and elk already, but this story is about the cow elk I just killed this weekend.
For a week prior to season my dad and I narrowed our choices down to two hunting spots. We kept bouncing back and forth until about 3 days before season. After finally picking the spot we packed for a four night backpacking trip, and headed out.
When we got there we took a few photos of the view and did a little looking around since there was a few tracks in the snow.
After setting up camp and eating dinner we went to bed. Shortly afterwards we could hear crunching in the snow. We figured it to be either a deer or elk, and fell asleep.
The next morning we wake up before sunrise so we could eat breakfast, and dad likes to have his coffee. While we are getting ready to eat I spot a set of eyeballs with my headlamp. I get the rifle ready (just in case it's a bear or something), but it turned out the be the deer we heard before falling asleep. They went bounding off into the woods so we continued with breakfast. After breakfast we headed down the mountain some so we could sit on a ridge. While we were sitting there we heard about 5 gun shots from not so far away. We decided to head back up the mountain and see if anything was around near us (the shots were from a spot that the animals could have ran toward us). We didn't see anything so we went back to our spot.
After sitting in our spot again we could hear more gunshots down in the valley. We used the binoculars to see a couple guys shooting at a herd of about 50 elk. We couldn't believe what we were seeing! These guys were lobbing shots from about 1,000 yards away hoping to get lucky and nail one. Thankfully it looked like they completely missed with every shot and the elk were able to run away.
After watching the elk run up and across the mountain we decided it was time to call it a morning. As we get up we spot another hunter about 50 yards up the mountain from us. We walk up to him and start talking it us. He turned out to be a really nice guy, recently moved from Kansas to Colorado and is a fireman. We told him we were going back to camp for lunch, and he'd be welcomed to join us if he wanted. He said he was going to drop down into the valley below to look around, and would maybe join us later.
So after we parted ways we went back to camp and ate lunch. After lunch we decided to take a nap since from our experience elk are almost never out during the middle of the day (this was because we were used to hunting in September, when it's warmer). About an hour later we get woken up by the same guy we had spoken to earlier that morning. He told us there were some elk below the ridge we were sitting, and he was guessing they were about 600+ yards down. He had just gotten done with a long and tough hike so he said he'd show us were they are and let us hunt them since he was tired.
We got on the ridge above them, and dad pulls out the range finder. He ranges where they are and it's only about 300 yards away (our range finder has bullet drop compensation, which is a fancy term for adjusting for up/down hill). The guy tells me I can take the 1st shot and he will shoot after I do. So we get lined up, and I pick the one laying down in the show. I was going to shot her (there were only cows, no bulls, I had licenses for both) while she was laying down, but I was so excited I had to calm down for a few seconds. I had a cross wind so I was planning for some "kentucky windage." As soon as I calmed down she stood up, and right when she turned her head I shot. She dropped like a sack of potatoes right in the same bed she stood up in.
After a shot discussion we decided to go in from across the mountain instead of dropping down to her since the mountainside was so steep. After the long walk through some VERY thick timber (we were literally walking through young trees), and searching for about 20mins we finally found her. We started a fire since the sun was going down, and got to work gutting and deboning (removing the meat so that all we pack out is meat, no bones or hair/fur).
After we were done deboning her we threw the meat in our backpacks. I would guess about 80-100lbs were in each pack (160-200 in total), and after about 1/4-1/2 of a mile we couldn't take the weight anymore so we stashed a couple bags to lighten our load (now we've got about 40-50lbs in each pack, plus the 12lb rifle I was carrying). We pack the 1st load back to where we moved camp (we had moved camp down the mountain onto a ridge after shooting her), and get read for bed (it was about 11pm). The next morning we go back down to fetch the 2nd load. After getting the 2nd load back to camp we eat, and move it along the ridge and up the other peak. After taking both loads across the ridge and up on the other peak we pack camp back to the SUV, and spend the night in it.
The next morning we grab the plastic sled we had in the car and go back up the mountain to get the meat. After throwing the meat on the sled we head back to the SUV. The very 1st part of the trail goes across a very steep mountainside, so one of the bags wind up rolling off the sled and down the mountain. Thankfully about 75-100yards down it stops and I was able to get it. We wind up putting a bag (40-50lbs each) in each backpack and the other two we carried down to where the trail flattened. Once we got to a decent flat spot we were able to have 2 bags on the sled and one in each of our packs.
As you can see it took two days from the time I shot her until the time we had her in the SUV, so we are very tired. We will likely go back out this weekend to fill the license I have for a bull elk, though we still have to cut up the rest of the meat into steaks/whatnot. Though we complained a lot because of all the hard work, we will wound up having fun. Our adventures still continue with the bull license I have, and our deer licenses which begin in about a week.