Memories of a high mountain elk hunt

You couldn’t ask for better quality mom/daughter time than on an elk hunt in the high country. LG had quite the hunting season last fall. She drew more hunting tags than we knew what to do with. Actually we DID know what to do with them. We went hunting!

2014-We drew some tags. Did you? (Colorado draw results and preference points)

LG had a Colorado bear tag, a rifle elk tag, a mule deer tag AND a New Mexico elk tag. That’s a lot of tags for Little Gal, especially when she has school to attend. We try not to miss too much school for hunting, but I admit it does happen.

Horseback elk hunt packing out  LG elk

I took her out of school for 3 days, and we headed for the high country to look for an elk. It was quite a fun trip for the two of us. We had good times, made good memories and spent quality time together. PLUS she knocked down an elk! 

Pre-hunt: Set up camp in 6″ of snow! “WHOOP! WHOOP!” Snow helps the hunt.

Day 1: We rode in horseback. It was dark, and we made it to our desired spot before sunrise. The shadows of three cows crossed before sunlight. There were no bulls with them. LG had an either sex tag but really wanted a bull.
As the sun rose, we saw the cows had moved from the meadow and up a hill across the way. Shortly after sunrise, we heard bulls screaming and headed that way. We had one within 100 yards, screaming at us through the thick trees. We called but couldn’t pull him out.
The snow from the night before was frozen and crusted. We waited until it softened and then made our stalk. We scaled the mountain, keeping downwind until we were on the same level as the bull. We stopped to catch our breath and glass through the thick trees to see if we could spot him. Suddenly we heard him jump and run.
“Dang it! He must have winded us.”
Nope. Shortly after we saw orange coming across a game trail. Yep, another hunter had spooked him.
So close, but no luck on day 1.

Day 2: We were there before sun up again. We tied the horses and waited near by for the sun to rise. It took forever that day. It poured rain, sleeted, snowed and hailed. When it was finally light enough to see, we saw nothing. The elk were fairly quiet. We heard faint bugles here and there. Who knows, other hunters may have been attempting to locate the bulls. We rode and glassed and rode and glassed. We ran into a lot of hunters. That day was tough because, as I said, it had snowed the day before. The snow crunched when we hiked. There was not sneaking anywhere that day. That second day we attained nothing wet and cold.

Day 3: That morning we bypassed all the early meadows. There was a camp we’d had to pass the morning before. The race was on because the hunters there were already gone. They tried to beat us up the mountain. We noted they were afoot. Then we saw their tracks went to the right. You guessed it. We went left and rode our horses right up that mountain.
As we crested a bench, I caught sight of the rear end of an elk moving through the trees. I signaled for LG to be quiet and look. (As if she wasn’t already quiet. Sheesh.) Then I began to cow call as we rode up to the next bench. We were right in the middle of a herd. I continued to call and signaled for LG to dismount. She stood at a nearby tree as I tied the horses in some thick pines.
When I turned around LG was waving. I knew she was eyeballing the cows, so I hurried to her side. We waited behind the tree as the cows meandered, mewed, circle and ate. They were all around us. LG said “I want to shoot that one.” She pointed at a large, healthy-looking cow. We ducked down and crawled beside a large log.
LG got her rifle set, steadied and made her shot. 40 yards! Right in the goodies! Then the work began. Field dressing, quartering, packing and riding out. We were some happy gals!
By the way, that was the only shot we heard that day. Does it remind you of the “Early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese” quote?

Me & LG on and elk hunt in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
Me & LG on and elk hunt in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

This year we are looking forward to more hunts of just as good and even better adventures. The adventures of Mia & LG! WHOOP! WHOOP!

Here’s a video for you to enjoy! [youtube

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Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast. 

Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.

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Want to write to me?
Mia Anstine
MAC Outdoors LLC
PO Box 31
Ignacio, CO 81137-0031 

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