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Hunter Testimonials
Hunter Testimonials

​​​​Share memories of your best Colorado hunts here. These photos and stories, written by hunters, capture tales of successful hunts throughout the state. Tell us your story by sending an e-mail to hunter.testimonials@state.co.us. Please include your name, a general hunt location and the story behind your outing (up to about 250 words). Also include a high-resolution, digital photo (.jpg) with the name of the photographer and any people in the photo.

NOTE:  Submissions become property of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and may be used on the Web site or in future editions of Colorado Outdoors magazine. All stories and photos are subject to review and editing to ensure CPW rules and regulations are met. Publication is not guaranteed. Items will remain online for a limited time.

Colorado big game regulations require all rifle hunters to wear blaze orange while hunting. Photos in this gallery, if taken after a hunt, may not illustrate this safety measure. Please review regulations, when planning your hunt.

Steve S.: Father, son both harvest in first hour of opening morning

Hunters: Steve and Steven Sturgill

StevenSturgillBull.JPG

This was my son's third trip to the Flat Tops Wilderness near Yampa, and his first bull elk. I have hunted this area for many years and feel blessed to have so many memories of success. 

We hunted the first rifle season this year, and both of us tagged our bulls within the first hour of our hunt on opening  morning. 

Luckily, the elk remained high due to warm temperatures and normal snowfall. Both were harvested around 11,000 feet. 

It's the unique challenge and quality of lifestyle that brings us 1,900 miles year after year to such a majestic place high in the backcountry of Colorado.

Photo by Chance Marshall, Oct. 11, 2014

Larry W.: Successful year ends with first bull beauty

Hunter: Larry Witte

LarryWitteBull.jpeg 

I was hunting in GMU 66 with my father and uncle during the 2014 second rifle season.  

We were hiking along a series of steep shelves in a thick aspen forest when I noticed movement on the shelf below us. Looking through a couple of pine trees I could see a magnificent bull. He was bedded down 75 yards away and had no idea we were there. I dropped to a crouched position and took aim through an opening in the trees.  

I fired and made a great shot! Seconds later, another bull came into sight. He must of been bedded down nearby. He stood beside my down bull staring at us for a full minute before running off. Unfortunately my father had a cow tag, but it was still amazing to lock eyes with that bull after just filling my tag. A few minutes later I had my hands on this incredible animal! 

We spent the next five hours packing the meat out of some extremely steep country. This is the first bull I've taken and I couldn't be more proud of him! 

The three of us will never forget this spectacular experience! Not a bad way to spend a week!


Photo by Ken Witte. Taken Oct. 22, 2014​

Editor's Note: Larry had a quite successful 2014 season, harvesting this bull along with a cow elk and a black bear. Congratulations, great hunting!

Larry W: In the Right Place at the Right Time

Hunter: Larry Witte

LarryWitteElk.jpeg

I was hunting Game Management Unit 65, trying to fill a cow tag. It was the first day of first rifle season. 

I was unable to hunt during the morning but made it into the field later that afternoon. My dad came with me and we spent our time hiking to high vantage points, glassing for elk. The area was promising but we went without seeing anything.

We hiked to the top of one last hilltop hoping to see some new country before the sun set. We made it to the top with about 30 minutes of shooting light left. Within 5 minutes of looking around we noticed two elk working their way towards us. Upon closer inspection we could see it was a single cow with a decent 5x5 bull.

The elk funneled through a drainage area below our hillside.  I set up quickly for a shot on the cow that stopped in the open 300 yards away. I fired my shot and struck the cow. My dad, who was watching this unfold through his binoculars said excitedly, "She's down!" 

Within a few minutes we were standing beside her, thrilled and amazed at how quickly this success unfolded. A lot of hard work went into getting my elk packed out but we didn't complain.

Another great experience in Colorado's beautiful outdoors! I was lucky — and thankful to share it with my dad!

Photo by Ken Witte, Oct. 11, 2014​

Austin K.: Persistence pays off

Hunter: Austin Kearney

KearneyAustinBull copy.jpg
Opening day of my third archery elk season was filled with excitement. My hunting partner and I found ourselves within range of a nice bull and his cows, but we couldn’t close the deal.

Although no elk were harvested, we left with some valuable lessons. Three unsuccessful trips later, we headed out for the final days of the season with high hopes. We encountered the same situation from the first weekend, but this time we were much more prepared.

The bull accepted my challenge and fell to my arrow after a perfect 20-yard shot. This was my first elk, and my first archery harvest. Twenty miles total and a day later, we had him back at the truck.

What a weekend! Thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife for making this possible.

Photo by James Elmer

Southerners find Western hospitality, elk to their liking

Clint Simmons, Louisiana


 

 

Clint Simmons bull.jpeg 

 
We went to Colorado during first rifle season last year to hunt elk in Routt National Forest, near Yampa.  

My husband killed his first bull there on Oct. 15, 2013. It was a nice 5x5. We live in Louisiana and greatly enjoyed visiting the area. Though the terrain was difficult at times, everyone we met was very nice. We look forward to returning in the future.

— by Krystal Simmons

2013 September Success

Joe Zupancic

Joe Zupancic bull.jpg

​​As most everyone who was out in Colorado during September of 2013 knows, it was a little bit rainy. On day five of the 2013 muzzleloading season the we​ather broke and my friend spotted what appeared to be a nice bull.  

A quick plan to get around the other side of the mountain proved to be the ticket to full packs of meat. The second — and last — trip out is always the best.  

September in Colorado is the best month of the year!

Photo by: Terry Meyers

72-year-old bags high-elevation bull

Lynwood Fiedler, Fort Collins

LynwoodFiedler bull elk.jpg
I'm 72 and still love primitive camping, hunting elk, fishing for trout and walking in the woods in October near Fairplay. 

In 2013, none of my family or friends were hunting during the first bull-only season, so I went by myself with enough supplies to last a week in case of bad weather. 

On opening morning, at first light, I started walking up a pass toward Mount Silverheels. About 8:30 a.m., a very large bull came within eyesight. After one clean shot I bagged my largest elk yet, a heavy six-point. 

Only seconds later another very large bull appeared in the same location. I watched and admired as he approached, stopped, and scampered away. 

Now what to do? Better call my two sons and tell them to get down to Fairplay soon — the old man needed help. This was my fourth bull, and it took the three of us the rest of the day to dress and drag it back to camp.

I don't know how many more years of hunting bull elk at high altitude I have left, but the memory of this hunt will be with me a long time.

Girl, 12, happy to provide meat for family

Skylar Strauss, 12

SkylarStrauss cow elk.JPG

January 25, 2014, was my 12-year-old daughter Skylar's first day of elk hunting.

We were lucky enough to draw a tag on a ranch that supports Ranching for Wildlife. We hunted near Craig for nearly 7 hours. She had many chances but never shot because she didn't want to hit another elk.

Around 2 p.m., we located a herd that was about to run over a hill. She didn't want to shoot again because there were bulls behind the cows. I told her to look at the last cow on the right. She moved her scope, there was only seconds before they disappeared over the hill. I was saying, "Shoot now," but she pulled the trigger before I got the words out. I heard the bullet hit and told her, "That's a hit."

She jumped up and, smiling, said "I hit it?" It went about 50 yards and went down. She told me, "I just provided for the family."

I'm proud to have another hunter in the family.

Story by Skylar's father Chriss Strauss, photo by guide Doc Holliday.

3 animals, 5 days, 13 years old

James Schulz, 13; Cincinnati, Ohio

3 animals, 5 days, 13 years old

My name is James Schulz and I’m 13 years old. I hunt whitetail deer where I live in Ohio but I was extra excited when my dad booked my first elk hunt. It was a September archery hunt with Tor Hayward of Hayward Ranch in western Colorado. I got elk, bear and mule deer tags.
 
James Schulz with bull elkOn the second evening of the hunt my dad and I sat over a water hole in a blind made of brush and trees. Near last shooting light, a big 6x6 bull stepped out of the brush at 65 yards. He stopped and looked our direction then walked to the water. I ranged him at 45 yards and released an arrow from my 60-pound Hoyt bow. He went 52 yards and dropped. Tor saw this from the hilltop and raced down to help celebrate.
 
The next evening we spotted a black bear one mile away. We raced toward it to get a shot before dark. Using a .30-378 rifle, I hit the bear at 75 yards. He ran into a thicket and dropped. He weighed 250 pounds.
 
The next morning we went for an archery mule deer. We took a 4x4, saw a shooter buck, got into position and I made a 15 yard lung shot from my knees through an opening in the brush.
 
I’ll never forget the week that I got three animals in five days!

Snowy crawl bags quality bull

Doug

Snowy crawl bags quality bull

This bull was harvested in Unit 56, west of Salida. It was day 6 of the second season. I had hunted this area the entire week and had seen several bulls but was unable to ever get a shot.
 
On the fifth day, a storm moved through, dumping a foot of snow with high winds. I left the house early Thursday morning and the sky was clear. I arrived at my hunting area, where I knew the elk liked to be after a storm. I glassed the ridge and could see dark spots, I knew there were animals on the ridge.
 
I began hiking and immediately found several beds. As it began to get light, I verified that there were elk on the ridge at 500 yards. I moved to cover and the elk spotted me but just watched. I crawled on my hands and knees 150 yards in the snow to get to the last cover there was at the bottom of the ridge. I reached a tree that provided good cover and, from a prone position, I ranged the bull at 310 yards. Once the bull stepped away from the herd I shot with a .270, aiming high on the left shoulder. The bullet entered at the base of the ribs and hit both lungs. He took three strides and collapsed.
 
I have harvested other bulls on this ridge but was pleasantly surprised at the size of this one. This year was by far the best hunting experience of my life.

Ranching for Wildlife grows great first bull

Will Hultzapple, 15

Ranching for Wildlife grows great first bull

I shot this Bull on Cross Mountain Ranch with a Ranching for Wildlife tag. It was my first bull and a great hunt!

'Most memorable' hunt with son

Seth Holbrook

'Most memorable' hunt with son

Seth Holbrook's son Noah, 9, poses with his dad's archery bull. Noah videotaped his father's hunt near Rifle.

The 2011 archery elk season may have been the best for years to come. My son, Noah Hunter Holbrook, and I were hunting Unit 32, known as the “Bookcliffs” that overlook Rifle.
 
On Aug. 27 we headed into my favorite draw. We set up to make our first stand and nothing responded to my calls, so I decided to move to the head of the draw, another half a mile ahead. Once there, we sat up next to a wallow and I told my son to start the video camera. I started calling and within a couple of minutes we had three spikes run in on us. The spikes started calling and I was calling along with them, when two small (but legal) bulls came in at a dead run, crashing through the aspens.

While videotaping, my son got so excited that he would forget he had the camera on and would start filming the ground. As I took the shot, Noah was not on the bull. The bull jumped, the string hitting him high and forward. He ran, I called as I knocked another arrow, then he stopped at 50 yards. I took the second shot and hit him perfect. He went 60 yards and expired.

I have harvested some very nice bulls but this is, by far, the most memorable hunt and most exciting because it was with my 9-year-old son and, in my eyes, this is my biggest bull yet!

Her first bull down on first shot

Kami Holbrook

Her first bull down on first shot

This was my wife’s first elk hunt and her first bull. She and I set out to fill her 2010 third-rifle-season tag in Unit 32, near the “Bookcliffs” area above Rifle.
 
We made the long hike across a deep canyon and were into elk right away. This bull was the first we saw at 286 yards. She took the shot with her new 30-06 rifle and hit the bull. He moved downhill out of view and bedded in some small but thick aspens.
 
On top of this being her first hunt, it also was her first time shooting a high-power rifle in the field. She didn't have much practice but she did great.
 
After getting into place where we could see him bedded, Kami set up for the finish shot. All we could see was his head and neck. She squeezed off a shot at 156 yards and hit him through the scent gland in the snout. The bull picked his head up and she made her third shot and hit him right under the ear, finishing the bull. She was so excited and I was as well. She couldn’t wait to take a look at him. It was a long pack out (roughly 2 miles) but very very rewarding! It was a very tasty young bull.
 
Thank you to all in Colorado Parks and Wildlife!
 
- Seth Holbrook

Sleepycat Mountain memories

Randy

Sleepycat Mountain memories

My friend Randy harvested this bull on Sleepycat Mountain in unit 24 out by Meeker.
 
Randy's father, Harvey, always hunted this mountain. Randy has fond memories hunting "The Cat" with his father when he was a boy.
 
Randy's father is gone now, but we always find ourselves back at "The Cat" every few years. We like to think Harvey had something to do with this.
 
Good job my friend!
 
Submitted by David Finn

Beginner's luck lands big bull

Douglas Manske

Beginner's luck lands big bull

We’ve been hunting in southwest Colorado for five years and had yet to fill our elk tags!
 
This season, my youngest son, Douglas, completed his hunter safety course and purchased a bull tag so he could hunt with us while we had cow and buck tags. We hunt to fill our freezer with meat and we’ve seen some massive animals, but we’ve not had an opportunity for a shot – until this year!
 
Douglas was sitting on a high meadow when a herd of cow elk came out just before sunset. We went back the next afternoon hoping that J and I would have a shot. I stayed with Douglas and J went up higher. Just before sunset again, the cows came stampeding out of the forest and behind them was a massive bull.
 
Douglas whistled, the bull stopped and he took the shot at about 25 yards. The bull ran a short distance and toppled over. He got back up and went about 50 yards into the trees where he gave two last gasps and was down for good. It took four men and a winch system to get him into a truck and back to camp after being gutted.
 
The processor said this was the biggest bull to come in and other hunters said they’d never seen this size bull come out of our area. Now we all have meat in the freezer and Douglas is getting a European mount of the antlers… he just has to find a place big enough to hang them.
 
Submitted by: Connie Matthews Imig, Durango

Virginian nabs elk on first trip

Alex Brown, Virginia

Virginian nabs elk on first trip This was my first trip to Colorado. My hunting group included my good friends, Lee Thompson, Lynn Colley and my father Bill Brown. We hunted in Chromo and on opening day I killed my first elk.

 
Bill Brown (left) and Alex Brown (right)

Woman's first bull a dead-on shot

Crystal Lambert, with husband Dana

Woman's first bull a dead-on shot

After joining our hunting camp and helping me pack out last year's bull, my wife Crystal Lambert decided to give hunting a try. We outfitted her with all the necessary gear throughout the summer and practiced at the range several times with my old .308. Feeling pretty confident, we packed up and headed out for a couple weeks in the woods.
 
We were able to get a first-season cow tag and an either-sex second-season tag for unit 54. First season came and went with our opportunities but no downed elk. On the opening day of second season, things were a little different because it was snowing hard, the wind was blowing on the ridges and we had a week of experience under our belts.
 
Crystal sat in a small aspen opening just downhill from our camp and by 7:30 in the morning, there were six bulls standing in front of her. She chose the closest bull (a 5 X 4) giving her the best shot and squeezed the trigger. At 60 yards, and with her good shooting, the bull never took another step.
 
- Submitted by Dana Lambert
 
PHOTO: Dana, left, and Crystal Lambert. Courtesy of Chris Matison.

Hunter's first cow taken in Flat Tops

Harold Lewis, Jr.

Hunter's first cow taken in Flat Tops

My brother, his long-time friend and I hunt the Flat Tops (unit 23) in Garfield County. I've been lucky enough or good enough, depending how one looks at it, to harvest four elk in the last five seasons.

We love to have a little snow on the ground opening morning, it quiets the cornflake aspen leaves when walking. On opening morning we had our wish — an inch or so of snow. We headed out at 4:30 a.m. on our 2.5-mile, 4-wheeler ride to the point where we get off and walk another 1.25 miles into the areas we hunt.

I hate to be late, and we were late getting into the general hunt area. We walked into the “Big Park”  at 7:15 a.m. and I  “bird-dog stopped," before my brother could get the word “Cow!!” out of his mouth.

I pulled the trigger, it was a double-lung shot and I had my first cow. There were about 10 other elk in the area that we didn't know were there. The snow pushed in and we think it forced them down. We saw nothing the rest of the trip.

We were lucky to get out on Wednesday, as the big snow storm rolled in and other hunters in our area were stranded.

Memory of first bull lasts a lifetime

Sam Garrison

Memory of first bull lasts a lifetime

My name is Sam Garrison. Kyle, my brother-in-law and I hunted in unit 82 on public land, during the third season in 2010.
 
The first weekend of the season we saw a number of cows and several bulls, but had no clear shot. We had to work all week, so there was no opportunity to hunt. The second weekend, 5 1/2 miles in, we saw a herd of 500 or more elk. There were about 25 legal bulls, all surrounded by cows — no chance for a shot.
 
Sunday morning my wife kicked me out at 3:30 a. m. and said “go hunting, you’ve got a license, now go, and don’t waste it.”
 
We got to the area we were hunting well before sunrise. From a hill, we glassed 5 bulls in an aspen grove a quarter-mile away. They detected us, started to get nervous and took off.
We had to run and cut them off. It worked. This bull stopped in a shooting lane between trees at 100 yards. I chambered a round in my dad’s .270, knelt down on one knee and dropped him in his tracks with one shot.
 
After field dressing the bull, which later measured 330, we hustled out and brought horses back to take him out. It was a long but very rewarding day! It is my first bull, as well as the first of anyone in my family, and a memory that will last for my whole life.

Perfect ending for a hunt tale

David Lewis

Perfect ending for a hunt tale

I moved to Colorado from upstate New York in order to pursue my dream of bowhunting an elk.
 
I made some friends who told me a few tricks and tips about how to hunt these big, loud animals during the rut. I was told by one friend to take everything I knew about whitetail hunting and throw it out the window.
 
He told me I had to get after these bulls when they are rutting, rather than sit and wait for them to come to me. So after work on a cold, sleety, rainy, windy day (you know Colorado weather), I headed for the hills.
 
Not being too familiar with the area I was hunting, and since it was the fourth day of the season, I decided to try walking down an old logging road I found on a map.
 
Not 20 minutes into the woods, I heard a bull bugle about 200 yards away. I looked for a place to get cover for a second, then my buddy's voice popped into my head about getting after the bulls during the rut.
 
I tried heading this bull off for about three hours, while he was bugling about every 10 minutes. When I finally did get in front of him, he came out of the brush at 15 yards broadside.
Too make a long story short, I hit him good. To make the story a bit better, he ran down a hill and expired in a ditch about, oh 50 yards from the truck.
 
Welcome to Colorado public land hunting!!

Secret spot warrants big bulls

Orlin Harris, Colorado

Secret spot warrants big bulls This 340 Boone & Crockett bull was taken in my honey hole, the location will stay a secret. I have the whole place to myself and have killed five bulls in seven years there. Three are 300-plus trophies. Not all big bulls are found in the high country.

First hunt for boy, 12, gets bull

Caleb Chicoine

First hunt for boy, 12, gets bull

My name is Caleb Chicoine and I am 12 years old, 2010 was the first year I've had an elk tag. I have gone with my dad on many hunts but have never actually been able to hunt.
Last year, I was snowmobiling into the JJJ Ranch with my dad and some of his friends when I saw a herd of a hundred elk. We were able to get 150 feet away from them.
 
I saw this nice 5X5 bull and took the shot. I weaved my bullet through the aspens with my Mossberg .308 and got my first elk.
 
The same day two of my dad's friends both got cows. Overall it was a very memorable hunt.
 
Photo by Caleb's father, Gordon Chicoine

Son's letter best payoff for Dad

Ben Deeming

Son's letter best payoff for Dad

As a parent it is important to me that a kid's first hunting experience is positive.
 
The reward of mentoring new hunters is something I enjoy enough that I became a volunteer hunter education instructor here in Colorado. One challenge of mentoring is tempering my high expectations and keeping the expedition relaxed and fun for first-timers. It is one thing to stand in front of a hunter education class, talking about hunts. It can be quite another to entertain a kid for several hours sitting in a blowing snowstorm waiting for an opportunity.
 
On this particular day, patience paid off for my oldest son, Ben, who harvested this large cow with a single, well-placed shot from his grandfather's 7mm Weatherby magnum. This was southwest of Steamboat Springs in unit 131.
 
Now Ben is nearing the end of boot camp in the U.S. Marine Corps.  In his latest letter home he said, "Dad – I’m doing well here but the thought of missing hunting camp makes me pretty homesick.  I can't thank you enough for all those times you took me hunting.  You wouldn't believe how much all the shooting, camping, orienteering, etc. you taught me has helped get me through boot camp.  Also, you'll be glad to know I just scored Expert on the rifle qual course…"
I'd take a hundred hunting trips with lowered expectations and hassles for just one letter like that.  Mentoring is not for everyone, it takes a LOT of patience.  But it's worth it.
 
Ben, I am very proud of you!
 
Photo and story submitted by: Jim Deeming, Colorado

Family outing hunt, 6X6 harvest

Jim Leahy, Hayward, Wis.

Family outing hunt, 6X6 harvest

While hunting with my son on a do-it-yourself hunt in unit 75, I shot this old, heavy-horned 6X6 bull in the first rifle season of 2010.
 
The bull was 2.5 miles from a trailhead and it took us three days to pack it off the mountain. We did not waste an ounce of meat using the meat care tactic of de-boning and skinning the animal immediately and hanging the meat in the shade while we took trips up and down the mountain three times.
I’m glad I had my 23-year-old along to help with the packing. My wife also came along as a camp cook — it’s a great family affair.
 
The animal is by far the biggest bull I’ve ever seen. This was the third trip for us to this area. The other two trips were successful as well, my oldest son killed his first bull, a 5X4, and my youngest son harvested a nice fat cow.
 
Colorado still is the best buy for elk hunting and the most scenic state I have ever hunted in. But the hunting is not easy, as far as terrain goes, and getting away from the crowd pays off if you can do it — walking to the spots in the dark and getting back in the dark takes preparation.
 
The CPW Elk Hunting University articles are right on as far as information needed to accomplish this type of hunting while staying safe at the same time. Thank you for a great opportunity!

Father, son share Steamboat hunt

Monty Patton, son Landin Patton

Father, son share Steamboat hunt

Landin Patton, age 9, has spent the last four hunting seasons with his dad, Monty Patton, hunting in Unit 15 outside of Steamboat Springs.

This season opening day, Oct. 23, offered a few inches of very wet snow for the hunt. We could see the elk were traveling to the high areas and we followed them up. After several hours of hiking we had the small herd in site, my dad took sight and took a 5X5 elk down. The fun had just begun. This bull was very healthy looking and large.

We spent the next couple hours cleaning the bull and managing the weather conditions as the rain and snow was creating a very wet environment. After the elk was cleaned, we packed down our first load of meat and the head for testing.

The walk was more than 2 ½ hours back to the trail, wow what work simply walking down the mountains. It is really amazing how much work it is to haul an elk out on foot.

The time in the wilderness and the time talking with Dad is something I will always remember and look forward to many more years of hunting.

Youth hunt great for father & son

Michael Knowlson

Youth hunt great for father & son

This was a great father-and-son opportunity to participate on an antlerless youth tag in a premier unit like 61 in the first rifle season.
 
Before the hunt we called the biologist for the unit and he helped us identify an area to focus on since we were driving from New Mexico the day before. As usual, this CPW employee was very helpful, and it led to a successful hunt for Michael.
 
Michael's hunt only lasted several hours, but during that time we saw a couple of great bulls and two herds of cow elk.
Providing 15 percent of the cow tags to youth is a great way to get kids hunting and was an experience that Michael and I will remember for a long time.
 
Submitted by: Rich Knowlson, Michael's father

Hunter's lucky shot happened fast

Anthony Whitemiller

Hunter's lucky shot happened fast

I have been hunting elk in the "Bears Ears" area of Colorado for 8 years.
 
The 2010 first season was successful. The first morning I was still hunting alone, up the trail in the snow and cold. It was getting to the end of the early morning twilight when I heard several shots about 1,000 feet above me.
 
When I stopped and listened closely, I could hear elk running down the mountain towards me in the thick aspens and pines.
I raised my Model 70 Winchester .270 and took the safety off. As the three cows were running towards me at about 60 yards, the lead cow saw me, turned and ran the other way with the other two cows.
 
I could not get a shot. As I was putting my safety back on, I saw another cow running towards me.
 
I brought the gun back up, jammed the gun stock into my armpit, got the cow in my sights and dropped it. I ran up to the cow and followed up with one more shot.
 
It was so exciting and happened so fast. I tagged the cow, took the photo, skinned it, quartered it and, after three round trips, I had the cow packed out by 3:30 p.m. The next morning I took the elk meat to the butcher.
 
What a great experience. I want to thank the Colorado Parks and Wildlife for all of their efforts.

A wedding and an elk hunt

Paul Lawver, Delaware

A wedding and an elk hunt

When my brother-in-law informed me early in 2010 he would be getting married Sept. 25 in Telluride, the light came on in my mind: I needed to arrange an elk hunt the week before the wedding.
 
Luckily, I had met my brother-in-law’s friend, Chris Herrera, in 2009 and he offered to go elk hunting with me when I wanted. I took him up on his offer. After months of planning and physical training, the day had come.
 
Chris introduced me to his two cousins in camp, Mike and Leonard Herrera. The next day, Mike and I were teamed up. We walked more than 5 miles without any sign of elk. It was hot and Mike and I decided the next day we needed to hunt at a higher elevation, on a north-facing mountain.
 
Well, it paid off. At 10:30 a.m., and at 11,000 feet, we started bugling to a bull deep in the timber of unit 181.  As if we had written a script, the bull worked his way from the bottom of the mountain to our high position. Mike changed from bugling to cow calling and that sealed the deal. This bull bugled his way up the mountain, stopped 20 yards behind a pine tree, bugled again and took three steps into a clearing — setting up a perfect broadside shot at 20 yards.  A perfect double lung shot and, 150 yards later, the 5x5 bull laid to rest.
 
Thank you, Mike Herrera, for calling this bull in…  And thank you, Colorado, for having a generous over-the-counter elk tag program.

First bull a lesson in strategy

John McDonald

First bull a lesson in strategy

I got it done! Finally, after several close encounters, countless blown setups and many miles up and down the mountain, I pulled off a perfect, double lung 30-yard shot.
I watched him go down not 30 steps from the shot. The G5 Striker-tipped FMJ did its job nicely, this bull never knew what hit him.
 
On the eighth day of the 10-day hunt, I went back to where I had seen a 5x6 bull days before, after legal hunting hours.
 
A rainstorm was just letting up about 5:45 p.m. when I heard a distant bugle. I responded with some lost mews, a weak bugle and some chuckling and then aggravated mews/whines. I spotted movement about 300 yards up the ridge, on the edge of the thicket. This bull stopped, spotted the decoy and sprinted down the ridge, barely giving me enough time to pull on a face mask and get into position for a shot.
 
He was a young 3x4 bull, but this was my first archery elk and I was going to fill my tag.
 
I needed him to walk behind a certain tree so I could come to full draw. Which he did - and then stood behind it for what seemed like 10 minutes. As soon as I let down, he walked to a clearing at 20 yards. Then he went behind a boulder and I came to full draw again, thinking he would step out the other side. WRONG. He turned around and headed back the way he came... I came to full draw and, at 30 yards, I mewed and he looked back at the decoy, giving me a perfect broadside angle.
 
So many lessons learned... So many more seasons to look forward to!

Archer's patience rewarded

Flint DeShazo, Round Rock Texas

Archer's patience rewarded

I have hunted for elk in Colorado nine different times with a rifle. Prior to this hunt, I had only taken one cow. I killed this bull near Electric Mountain with a bow on the third day of the season.
 
I was in a tree stand over a water hole and watched three cows come out of woods to the water. I was getting ready to shoot one and, suddenly, the bull appeared. He ran to the water hole - 42 yards away - and I shot him with an arrow. He stood up and walked about 15 yards up the hill and stood broadside – I shot him again at 60 yards. He walked about 10 feet, laid down and died within a couple of minutes.
 
It was an amazing experience. I was hunting with my older brother and 80-year-old dad (who killed a 6x7 bull last year).
 
Love all the public land in Colorado that gives us Texans a chance to hunt the big game.

Elk hunter lands in lion’s sights

Dave Muck

While muzzleloader elk hunting in Unit 551, my hunting partner Rick Cerney and I spotted a cow elk at the bottom of a long grass patch, entering the trees.
We made our way to the bottom by jumping from little tree patch to little tree patch until we got within 250 yards of the area she went into. I took stand at one tree and my partner took stand at another. He began to call for the elk.
 
Within a few minutes, at 220 yards, I had a 100-pound mountain lion watching me. It watched for a few minutes then laid down, I thought. A few minutes later, at 106 yards, I had a 10-minute stare down with him. He laid down again and I never saw him after that.
 
That was the first mountain lion that I have seen in the wild, and it will leave me with a great memory.

Indiana man takes opening-day elk

Adam Saunders

Indiana man takes opening-day elk

Adam and I met and found we share a love for hunting. He wanted to observe how we hunt and call in bull elk. So, we decided to hunt for cow elk in muzzleloader season with two other hunters, Jim Gross and Keith Whitlatch.
 
Adam was so hyped, good to see a hunter that way! While setting up camp in Unit 67, he spotted a 2x2 bull and a cow and we watched them until dark, everybody's hopes were high!  We ate and got our gear ready for opening morning.
 
Leaving camp on 4-wheelers in the dark with 32-degree wind in your face will wake you up! We found a spot and heard a bull bugling across the opening. Suddenly, Adam told me not to move, he saw a cow standing 130 yards across the field. Resting on a tree he took aim and, "Boom!" It was 7 a.m. on opening morning.
 
Crossing the field, we found where he thought it had been standing. I found one drop of blood on an aspen leaf and thought to myself it was going to be a long morning of tracking. Soon I saw it lying on the ground and yelled for Adam. He walked within 10 feet of it and never knew it was so close. He took two steps and saw it. High fives and pictures, then the fun began: field dressing and getting it back to camp for processing.
 
A first-time elk hunter and an opening morning kill - it doesn't get any better! I killed mine on the sixth day at 60 yards.
 
Submitted by: Mark Miller, Quincy, Ill.
 
Photo: Adam Saunders poses with the cow he harvested.

Second-day Success

Mark Shelton

Second-day Success

I shot this bull on Missionary Ridge, first season. It was a Sunday morning, the second day. We packed in approximately 5 miles up the Florida river drainage.

First-time hunter calls in 6x5 bull

Wayne Riley, North Dakota

First-time hunter calls in 6x5 bull

I was able to take this 6x5 bull on the third day of a hunt during the second rifle season in 2009. This was in Unit 28. It was my first elk hunt ever.

I went into the hunt with realistic expectations of having a great experience but with the possibility of not even seeing an elk. I cow-called this one in at first shooting light and he came to me at 143 yards. It was truly a great experience that everyone in my camp will cherish forever. He looks fantastic above my fireplace, by the way.

Thank you to the state of Colorado for providing a beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors. Good luck to all my fellow hunters!

Colorado dream hunt now a reality

Justin Gangestad

Colorado dream hunt now a reality

My father, grandfather, uncles and I have always dreamed of coming to Colorado to get a chance at an elk. We talked about it for many years, and in the winter of 2009 we decided to make it a reality.
 
We researched and researched, choosing to hunt near Steamboat Springs. Five of us went with very few goals, the main one being to just see an elk in the wild. When we arrived in Steamboat, we spoke with the Division of Wildlife officers. They were very helpful, telling us the best way to hunt our area.
 
On opening morning, one of my uncles took a 5X4, so we spent the rest of the day and night taking care of the elk. On the third day, I walked up on a 6X6 in some dark timber at 35 yards. I wasn't certain on how many points he had because he had his head down feeding, but I was certain he was legal. After he was down, I saw that he was a beautiful 6X6, with one tine broken off, and I couldn't have been happier. When my father came to help me, he couldn't believe we successfully harvested a beautiful bull elk. Later that evening, my other uncle took a very large cow to top off a wonderful day.
 
Overall, three of five elk tags were filled, not bad for a first trip. We were happy with our trip and achieved many of our dreams! We will be back to Colorado to get our other members their elk!

First bull a big one, despite heat

Rob Bornhorst

First bull a big one, despite heat

Since I was young, my dad and I - along with other family and friends - have hunted in GMU 68.  By the time I was old enough to hunt we moved to Iowa. However, that love always will be in my blood. My dad and I have made it back to hunt for six or seven years, and I hope to make it for another 50-plus.
 
In 2007, it was hot and dry. I can remember thinking that there is not an animal within 30 miles of here because it was so hot. All of a sudden, I heard the clatter of a bull running straight down the mountain. The guys above me kicked him out of bed and he was in a hurry.
 
I stopped and drew my gun when I saw him crashing down the mountain about 40 yards ahead of me.  I got only a glimpse but knew he was a valid bull. I squeezed the trigger and he tumbled immediately. I stayed put for about 20 minutes and then walked up to him. When I saw how big he was, I was speechless. I couldn’t even talk over the radio to tell the rest of my group where I was. 
 
It was big and - for a first bull - was more than my dad or I could have dreamed.  It took four guys 7 hours to get him off the mountain, back to camp and in the tree. Now I need to purchase a bigger home to make room for him in the house.
 
Photo: Matt and Rob Bornhorst

Family Hunt

Ryan Mickelson

Family Hunt

I shot bulls with my father and son near Pagosa Springs on public land during the early season rifle hunt. They were still bugling and I shot mine on his bed at 12:35 after stalking him for more than 2 hours.
 
My son was right with me the entire time. It was really special and amazing, and we had a fantastic trip.
 
We're guessing my bull to be 14-15 years old. He was definitely post-prime. His ivories were heavily worn and one was even cracked. It's incredible to think how many times he has crossed U.S. 160 and the Ute reservation during migration without being killed.
 
This is the first elk I’ve killed since I was 16. I'm 40 now. My name is Ryan Mickelson, my dad is Mike and my son is Zach. Thanks for the opportunity. 

Family Hunt II

Mike and Zach, submitted by Ryan Mickelson

Family Hunt II

My father is 68 years old and my son is 13. We shot bulls near Pagosa Springs on public land during the early season rifle hunt.

My dad shot his bull the night after I shot mine.  We used his old, lever-action model 99 .300 Savage that he has been hunting with since he was a youth.  He carried it in a scabbard he made when he was a Boy Scout.  It was the first time he has hunted in more than 25 years.

My name is Ryan Mickelson, my dad is Mike and my son is Zach. Thanks for the opportunity.

CPW Youth Hunt

Cody Malone

CPW Youth Hunt Cody Malone shot this cow elk while hunting with his dad, Craig, during a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Youth Hunt program at the MacGregor Ranch near Estes Park.

Was hunt worth the wait? Oh yeah.

Lonnie Peschiera

Was hunt worth the wait? Oh yeah.

After a 17-year wait, I gave up on trying to draw a rifle tag for Unit 201 and put in for a muzzleloader tag and drew. My friends Jerry Swaro and Buddy Grinstead came along to help.

The first morning we were bugling in a bull that hung up. That evening, while sitting on a waterhole, we watched two 6-points come in and stand around for assessment at 75 yards. I couldn't believe I was going to let these bulls walk, but they were short on their thirds.

The next morning, we watched as seven bulls fed along an open hillside. Buddy bugled and three different bulls sounded off behind and below us. We started pressuring the bulls and had one come stomping in looking for the upstart that dared to challenge him. As he passed through an opening, I looked at his dagger and started counting, five-six-seven-EIGHT! I admit, I got excited and attempted to shoot at him moving back through that opening, only to watch him move out of my sight picture as the gun went off.

There were too many big bulls around to mope after a miss. On the fourth morning, Buddy started a calling sequence and called in two big bulls from what looked to be a mile away. He stopped a 6X6 in front of me at 50 yards and I ended my 17 year quest.

The question I'm asked most is, "Was it worth the wait?" Most definitely!!!

Second-season bull

Justin Dufva

Second-season bull This is my second rifle season elk. I harvested him in Unit 75 with my rifle on public land.

Missionary Ridge Bulls

Mark Shelton, Buzz Wisner and Michael Wisner

Missionary Ridge Bulls

A trip to Missionary Ridge, first season. Out of four hunters, three of us were successful. Hunters are: Mark Shelton, Buzz Wisner and Michael Wisner.

Beginner's luck hooks hunter

Anthony Owen, Thornton

Beginner's luck hooks hunter

My uncle Cary invited me to hunt the fourth elk season in 2007. I bought my either-sex tag from the leftover list for units 18 and 181. Having moved from Hawaii via San Diego I had never hunted, but was an avid saltwater fisherman.
 
My brother Chad, a Colorado resident also hunting for the first time, joined me.  We had no idea what we were doing.  For four days we drove his loud diesel F250 over every passable road in both units. It’s funny how a novice hunter thinks that big game just hangs out by the road, waiting for you to shoot it.
 
On the fifth and last day we drove to a clear cut south of the Never Summer Wilderness and southwest of the Granby entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.
About a half hour after sunrise we stopped for a break. I looked up and a bull elk was crossing the clearing 200 yards away.
 
I pulled my first shot and thought I missed (I hit him on the fourth rib into his stomach). The bull kept walking and went behind a large pile of logs. I used the opportunity to go prone over a fallen tree. When the bull popped his neck out from behind the logs I made another 200-yard shot and dropped him at the point of impact.
 
I don’t drive around looking for elk anymore and have learned to study maps, migration patterns and habitat, which brought me another freezer full of meat last year.  Sometimes, however, beginner’s luck can bring the best of rewards.
 
Thanks to my uncle for introducing me to hunting. I still love saltwater fishing, but I am hooked on hunting for life.
 
Photographer and co-hunter: Chad Owen, Brighton

Youth hunt helps kids explore

Travis Cavenah

Youth hunt helps kids explore

Shawn Bruner’s eyes grew wide as three bull elk ran across the sagebrush park towards him. Joe Nicholson, an officer with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, whispered to Shawn and his father Mike to remain still. The elk chased each other in circles before running into a pond less than 50 yards away. As the elk splashed in the water and chased each other out of the pond, Shawn turned to Nicholson and said, “This is like television, only better because it’s for real!” Nicholson told Shawn and his father that moments like that are what makes hunting in Colorado great, even when you don’t harvest an animal.

Shawn was one of three kids enjoying a youth antlerless elk hunt on Three Springs Ranch in Northwest Colorado in August. He, Travis Cavenah and Charlie Craven participated in the three-day Hunter Outreach Program event.

“While Colorado is rich with wildlife resources and opportunities to hunt and fish, times have changed,” explained Nicholson. “While rural traditions may still exist, most kids are growing up in urban areas where kids and their parents may not know how to start exploring a budding interest in hunting and fishing.”

Shawn, Charlie and Travis had the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife, interact with landowners, discuss regulations and ethical dilemmas and experience disappointment at missed opportunities to harvest an elk. The boys did all harvest elk, but sharing the hunt with friends and family is what ultimately makes the experience memorable.

For information on youth hunting with the CPW, contact the Hunter Outreach Program, (303) 291-7248.

Photo:Travis Cavenah and CPW Officer Joe Nicholson.

Story by Joe Nicholson.

Hunts yield four bulls

Martin Campos

Hunts yield four bulls

I have been hunting this area for nine years. I draw my either sex tag every other season. I have scored a bull the last four hunts, gotta like it.
 
I have friends from out of state that have been hunting with me the last five years, they look forward to coming back every year.
 
The Grizzly Park area has been good to us, we will miss it in 2010 as none of us drew a tag this season, good hunting to whomever finds our spot.
 
That is me with my elk.
 
Thanks,
Marty
 
Photo by Traber Cass

Cow elk was hard-won harvest

Aric Harper

Cow elk was hard-won harvest

After several years of hunting hard, here we were at 10 a.m. on opening morning with an elk coming toward Traber’s calls. With an opening in the trees 30 yards from me, I could only lean against an aspen tree and get ready. As she stepped into the opening, I had my bow drawn and gave a soft mew. She stopped and the arrow was on its way in an instant. Watching the red and white fletch disappear in her side washed away years of frustration and disappointment. I had just taken my first elk with a bow!
 
But delight quickly turned to horror. I watched her run about 60 yards, then stop and stand there, fully alert. The arrow hit too far back. We watched in agony as she stood in the open area for 45 minutes then wandered off over a rise. After a couple hours, we took up her trail. I happened to look under a tangle of pines and saw her laying there. I noticed an alert ear turned towards me - she was very much alive!
 
I knew I needed to put another arrow in her. By standing on my tiptoes on a log, I was able to see a clear tunnel through the brush to her chest. At the arrow’s impact, she blew out of the cover like she was shot from a cannon.
 
We gave her another half hour before we started to trail her again, using a grid pattern to search for her. I finally found her in chest-tall ferns, and the frustration, disappointment - and horror - truly melted away. I gave a loud bugle to get Traber’s attention and the excited bugle he sent back said he already knew what I had found.

Fantastic hunt with my brother

Gary Homerstad

Fantastic hunt with my brother

My brother and I had a fantastic hunt in Colorado. The elk in the photo is a 6x6 (barely) that I took on the morning of our last hunt day.  While hunting, I saw four bears, numerous mule deer (two fighting within 30 yards of me), and even a few grouse.
 
I had been within 50 yards of a nice bull and his cows earlier on the morning of the last day of our hunt but couldn't get a clean shot through all the oak brush. I later took the bull pictured from 300 yards with one clean shot from my 7mm Remington Magnum.
 
We hope to return for another hunt(s) until my brother can get a bull.  Until then, I'll be reading Colorado Outdoors.

'Second-chance' bull

Jimmie Don Aycock, Texas

'Second-chance' bull

The only time I’ve elk hunted with a rifle I killed a nice bull about 30 minutes after sunrise on opening morning. Concluding that rifle hunting was not very challenging, I decided on a primitive weapon. I drew a muzzle-loader tag and picked a favorite site in the south San Juan Wilderness.
 
On the fourth day, I began to see fresh tracks. I used a squeeze cow call followed with a small, short bugle. There was an immediate answer. He came into view at about 50 yards, looking for his challenger. I cocked my old Thompson Center’s hammer but the first of the two clicks made the bull stop. I froze, knowing the second click could ruin the day. The solution – carefully cock the hammer with my thumb while holding the trigger down to avoid the click. At 11,000 feet, cold, winded and excited, this wasn’t a good idea. BOOM!! Mud and sticks went flying from the ground four feet in front of me.
 
I reloaded and stayed still. I hit the squeeze call again. The bull gave a horrific roaring bugle and began working a tree over. I matched him with tree raking and my smallest bugle. This time he got really angry. He came charging around a few fallen trees. A few steps put him broadside at 35 yards. This time, the old .50 caliber was already cocked. The 5x5 took about 10 steps and collapsed.
 
I know that second chances with a primitive weapon are rare. Sometimes we just get lucky.

Hunt vacation is worth the drive

Randy, Pennsylvania

Hunt vacation is worth the drive

Randy and his son Christian (above), drive from Pennsylvania to hunt in Colorado.
 
I have been very fortunate, I have been able to hunt Colorado for the past 5 years (2010 will be our sixth)  with family and friends. My wife and I drive out from Pennsylvania carrying all the gear and the rest of our party flies into Denver. We hunt outside of Leadville.
 
A few years ago I went to a hunting seminar and was advised to hunt the same area for at least 5 years, learn the area and the habits of the game animals. That advice has been proven correct time and time again.
 
My oldest son Christian and I hunted hard for 5 days straight and on the morning of the sixth day I leaned over and whispered to my son that a BIG bull was coming. It was a dream come true to be in the majestic Colorado Rockies with my son and to harvest this fine mature bull.
 
I am a Hunter Education instructor here in Pennsylvania and, to me, spending time with your son or daughter or mentoring a child to the joys of the great outdoors is a gift I cherish.
 
Thanks for the great opportunities that Colorado has to offer.
- Randy

Choosing between two bulls

Dana Lambert, Gunnison

Choosing between two bulls

After hunting hard with no success all first season with a Unit 54 leftover cow tag, on the seventh day of the second season I finally had my shot.

It was a very cold morning and I was sitting in one of my favorite spots.  It was a spot I knew could produce because I've been seeing tracks come through this small opening for years, but the timing was never right.

At about 7:30 a.m., while I was checking out a bird with my binoculars, I look down and see this bull quartering towards me.  I knew it was the best chance I've had all season so the adrenaline started flowing.  The wind was at my back and I knew my window of opportunity before I was busted was small so I got ready.  After he was about 30 feet into the opening, a much larger bull followed - the size of bull you rarely ever see, especially if you are hunting.

This is a choice you don't get often; do you take the first, closer animal or risk being winded by the first animal in hopes of shooting the big bull? My decision was quick though and since I hunt for meat, I chose the animal with the best chance for success. Thanks to my wife, Crystal Lambert and Chris Matison for helping me pack him out.

I learned a great deal this hunting season and my mental elk war chest seems to get larger every year.  Remember to never get discouraged, enjoy the time in the woods, and especially, the time you're not at work!

Photo by Crystal Lambert

Buddies watch stalk from camp

John Zack

Buddies watch stalk from camp

We had a front row mountainside seat as we watched the entire hunt unfold when John Zack harvested his first elk.

Joe Welna and I were processing our mule deer in camp, cutting and wrapping our venison. At about 4:45, we were surprised when John returned from the nearby mountain, out of breath and looking at the slope behind Joe and me.

He pointed to it as I asked him why he was back so early. Turning to look, we saw more than 30 elk on the sage-covered ridgetop almost a mile away.

“I don’t think I can make it in time,” John said as he glanced down at his wristwatch.

“Yes you can!” I answered.

In the ensuing minutes we helped John by suggesting the best route for a stalk and then bid him good luck as he began his descent to the creek bottom and back up the other side in hopes of positioning himself for a shot at a bull.

John made it with only minutes to spare. The elk were everywhere, foraging, unaware, but only a couple of bulls were amongst the herd.

We watched him crawl toward a big Douglas fir tree. We watched him disappear. We waited for the sound of his rifle. And then we heard one shot… then a second… and one more, all evenly spaced in a period of about a minute.

Then through our binoculars, we saw John stand up, facing us, his arms held high above his head and spread out, giving us the sign for bull elk down.
Yeah!

By Blane Klemek
Routt National Forest
October 2011

Photo by Blane Klemek
Joe Welna (front) and John Zack (rear, carrying antlers)
head back to camp

20 years of points earns 8x8

Paul Obert

20 years of points earns 8x8

I considered using my 20 years of preference points in Units 2, 10, 61 or 201, but decided to go with the Bosque del Oso property because of the stories I'd heard about it.
 
first light one morning I headed up along the bottom from my camp, sneaking along to stay in cover. About 500 yards up the canyon I saw several nice bulls. I looked farther up the canyon and spotted this bull up in the rocks. In cover and with him looking straight at me I couldn't judge how big he was. As the bull turned his head to go, I instantly knew he was a shooter.
 
He disappeared in the terrain and I was sick I didn't shoot him when I had the chance.  As luck would have it, he stopped for one last look at me in a small opening, giving me a shot at his ribs just behind the shoulder. At 300 yards, I put one behind his shoulder and would have never known he was hit except for the thud of my bullet. He moved a few steps and stopped with only his head and neck exposed. As long as big bulls are on their feet I keep putting rounds into them, so I held on the neck and hit a little high. My third shot broke his neck, dropping him in his tracks.
 
As you build points through the years to 20, you have hopes of being able to go on the hunt of a lifetime.  It is really something when it comes together! I’ve hunted big game for 44 years and this is my biggest bull to date. I truly appreciate the chance to hunt on a place like Bosque with real trophy potential!

Stalking a 305-class bull

Jon Prince, Chapman Ranch, Texas

Stalking a 305-class bull

My name is Jon Prince and I am 68, born and raised in deep South Texas. From 1974-94, I made trips to northern Colorado to hunt elk. I had my share of harvested bull elks, most of nice size but nothing huge.  After almost 18 years not hunting in Colorado, my wife and I bought a cabin south of Pagosa Springs. I debated whether or not to hunt and finally bought my tag for third rifle season.
I hunted three days, some in blizzard-like conditions, and each day I saw signs of elk. On the fourth morning, I set out determined to hang with the weather and find a bull.
After tracking one for more than two hours, I caught sight of him deep in oak brush. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would get a shot at him. I stayed with him and, a hour before dark, he emerged, I shot and down he went. Now how was I going to get him out before dark? It wasn’t possible,  so I gutted him, marked him and made my hike out of the woods.
 
When I reached the cabin, I contacted friends to help me pack him out in the morning. Great friends in Colorado - all showed up early and off we went. They couldn’t believe their eyes – I took a random walk in the woods, new to the area, and there lay a 6X6 bull that scored 305 points! I was elated.
 
Thank you, Colorado, for the best hunt of my life.

First archery hunt nets a 5x5

Andrea Sokolowski

First archery hunt nets a 5x5

My hunter friends told me I should take up the bow because they thought hunting with a rifle was too easy for me. I resisted their urging because I liked being successful. All I wanted was elk meat in the freezer, so why should I make the hunt more challenging?
 
Then they told me about the interesting elk behavior they see during archery season — stories about seeing fighting bulls and great herds at treeline. My boyfriend told me about the time he called in a calf and it sniffed his hand! That did it, I had to have a close encounter with an elk. 
 
I practiced shooting almost every other day for a month. I wanted to be sure that I was a sure-shot up to 30 yards. We shot at rotten logs, fancy targets and synthetic replicas of animals.
 
Opening day, my boyfriend and I hunted all day outside of Ouray. We stalked a young bull and called him in to, but he stayed at 40 yards so I let him go. I started second-guessing myself. Maybe I should have tried the shot? To reassure me, my boyfriend said I would be happy in the long run that I stuck to my plan of taking a shot at closer range. 
 
Almost two weeks later, we went to a beautiful aspen grove outside Montrose where my boyfriend used to guide. There were a few bulls answering our calls but none came in, so we followed one. We ran into him grazing in the rain at 60 yards and dropped to the ground. I got on my hands and knees and crawled 10 yards closer. The bull grazed another 30 yards closer and gave me my close shot. My arrow went through both lungs and out the other side at 20 yards. 
 
I feel so grateful to have made a good shot. All that practice was worth it, the bull had a 286 score. And my boyfriend was right — I was happy I waited for the perfect shot!

Father-son Hunt Ends with Buck, Bull

Kevin Brookes

Father-son Hunt Ends with Buck, Bull

My father and I have been hunting together ever since I could carry a gun. We like the Do-It-Yourself model and hunt public land without guides. This year marked our second elk hunt together. We were fortunate to draw muzzleloader tags for both elk and mule deer.
 
Opening morning found us deep in the woods only three hours west of Denver. We split up, covering two separate valleys. I decided to swing through an area where I spotted a great mule deer the week prior. As I worked my way through the thick timber, I spotted a few small bucks and one nice black bear. Approaching the top of the ridge, I heard an elk bugling in the valley below. I was able to get the wind in my favor and gave a few cow calls, which he responded to right away.
 
I got a glance of him coming through the timber about five minutes later. My first thought was that he was a Kevin Brookes' dad with his bucksmaller satellite bull. I gave two more calls and he turned towards me and started running up the valley. Once I was able to get a good look at him I knew right away he was a great bull. He gave one last bugle at about 40 yards and turned broadside.
 
It was a hunt I will never forget, and the only regret from that morning was that my father and I had split up.  It would have been great to have him experience the entire hunt.
 
The mule deer was harvested two days later, less than a quarter-mile from where I harvested my bull. We saw 25 elk during our hunt and, on the last day, we called in another great 6X6 for my father, but the bull never presented a clear shot.
 
Colorado is a great place to hunt elk. With a lot of patience and hard work anyone can come to this great state and harvest an animal on public land.

Son Puts Meat in Freezer, Trophy on Wall

Taylor Lynn

Son Puts Meat in Freezer, Trophy on Wall

On opening morning of first-rifle season, my youngest son Taylor and my brother Dan were out for a Do-It-Yourself hunt on public land. They were sitting and looking out over a snowy valley below them when Taylor spotted this bull walking in the bottom.
 
With Dan’s help, they determined he was legal and got Taylor in a solid position to take a shot. Taylor, using his new Savage 7mm, shot and hit the bull but did not drop him. He relocated and, after a couple missed shots, Taylor hit him again which made the bull move into the trees. There he fell over from the chest shot.
 
This was Taylor’s first bull and the second year in a row he has been able to harvest an elk and put meat in our freezer. This year, he also has his trophy on the wall.
 
— Story by Taylor’s father, David Lynn

Guns: Bigger is better? Nah, but it’s louder anyway

Brian Ross, Greeley

Guns: Bigger is better? Nah, but it’s louder anyway

Six days into our annual elk hunt during second rifle season in 2012, the four of us (myself, my brother Brian Ross, his brother-in-law, and my son) decide to meet up around lunch at one of the middle-of-the-day spots we have in GMU 23, which we call “the log.”
 
All of us were hunting with rifles, except Brian. He traded in his .44 Smith & Wesson for a bigger and better .460 Smith & Wesson with a Burris 2x7 scope. He was getting somewhat disgruntled carrying the monstrous boat anchor around his neck and was itching to bag an elk with it.
From “the log,” we could see into a park and partially down into a draw. After sitting around for about an hour and a half, I stood up, ready to start walking. My rifle was laying against the log, my son was picking at a pinecone to entertain his teenage boredom, and the brother-in-law was two winks from sleep (maybe not, but it sounds good).
 
Brian says in whispered excitement, “Cow! Cow! Cow!” I slowly turn my head and see a cow standing no more than 50 yards away, chewing, with this look on her face like “Something isn’t right here.”
 
Brian — having the only legitimate shot — raises his “Bigger and Better pistol” about four feet away from me and hears me say, “Man, this is going to be loud.” And it was. But the cow never took another step. It was a perfect shot.
 
Story and photo by Bud Lewis

First elk gets hunter hooked for more

Larry Witte

First elk gets hunter hooked for more

I was hunting in GMU 65 during the 2013 second rifle season when I harvested this cow from 245 yards away.
 
With only a few days left in the season, I was starting to feel discouraged that I had not yet filled my tag. But I was determined not to give up, and my persistence paid off.
 
I was sitting on top of a hillside as the sun was coming up when this cow came around a bend, walking toward me. After a minute or so, she turned broadside and that was the moment.
 
I can't describe the thrill or excitement I felt from the moment I first saw her until I was kneeling beside her in this picture! This is the first elk I've killed, I'm relatively new to hunting. But I'm hooked for life! It was an amazing experience and I can't wait until next year!

Intense archery hunt ends with 340-inch bull

Craig Gallogly

Intense archery hunt ends with 340-inch bull

I was hunting in unit 60 in the middle of archery season. The huge rains that would end up flooding Boulder were keeping me nice and wet and making the morning a cold one. My brother-in-law and I called in four bulls to about 50 to 60 yards in thick brush and lost them to a bugle down the ridge.

Hiking to the top, we spotted a herd of about 40 elk and decided to try to call them in. Sure enough the cow calls got their attention and they started to head straight for the ridge we were on. I got in position and waited. A spike stopped 25 yards from me and stared - trying to figure out what I was. It felt like he was there for an eternity. The whole time I could hear the rest of the herd walking right behind me.

Once the spike started to feed again, I turned and saw a massive 340-inch, 6x6 bull standing with seven cows.

I have to say it was one of the most intense mornings of my life. I can only hope to one day experience a hunt like this again.

Great friends, great hunt

Walter Roth of Cortland, Ohio

Great friends, great hunt

Wow! Our five-day hunt has gone by so fast, today is the last day of first rifle season.
 
My friend Jim got his elk at 8 a.m. on opening day. He always knew his spot would pay off. Jim, his brother Lee, and I made short work quartering his 4x4 elk and returned to hunting.
We spotted a large 6x6 later that day. Lee and I separated to get ahead of him. We got out in front of him, set up, waited, then walked back to camp in the dark knowing the elk went another direction. He still roams the hills as far as Lee and I know.
 
I have hunted this area for about seven years and know the elk will sometimes follow the lay of the land if they are undisturbed. I found such a place today, on the last day of the season, and set up. I'm down to the last hour of daylight and nothing is moving yet.
 
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch movement. A bull elk coming from the opposite direction. I move slightly to position for a shot and see that he is not alone. Two 5x5s, twins, about 210". I take the 250-yard shot. One is down. I shoot a Remington 30.06 model 721, 200 grain ammunition. Dad bought this rifle, brand new in 1956, for $60. Good enough.
 
As I walk the three miles back to camp I'm cold, hungry, tired, it's dark and I am excited. It’s been the Best Hunt Ever, and it was all on public land.
 
Lee Humbert pictured in background. Photo by Jim Humbert.

Wait pays off with two tags in one hunt

Steve Wilde, Colorado Springs

Wait pays off with two tags in one hunt

After 15 years of acquiring preference points for a bull elk and eight years gaining points for a buck deer, I successfully drew both tags for the same hunt on the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area in 2012.
 
Three very beneficial scouting trips were taken to the area prior to the five-day hunt.  Accompanied by my oldest daughter Allie, and my good friend Walt, I harvested a 4X4 buck at 200 yards on the second day and a heavy 5X5 bull from 125 yards at sundown on the fifth day.
 
Many miles were walked and the hunt was difficult. But we had a great and memorable hunting experience. Many thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others for acquiring and managing this unique area.

‘Love your state!’

John Bowers, Pennsylvania

‘Love your state!’

October 2012, second season, day four of the hunt. I have hunted elk in Colorado for at least 18 years now, it is my passion. This is great country and I have had some really good luck hunting elk and mule deer in Colorado.
 
On last season’s hunt, I did not see a lot of sign the first three days of the hunt, so I moved up the mountain to 9,000 feet elevation around 8:30 in the morning. I saw a group of elk go by, but I had no shots.
 
While sitting and enjoying the mountains, I noticed this big bull trotting down through the aspen, coming toward me. I set up and watched this bull come out into the meadow and stop to look around — broadside. I settled in and took this 6X6. It was my best bull ever.
 
By then, it was 10:30 in the morning and the work began. I skinned and quartered it and called my friend Chad, after three trips down the mountain, I had my best elk ever — a heavy-horned 6x6. At 58 years old, it took me a couple days to heal myself, but I will be back if God allows!
Love your state!

Hunter heads 'em off at the pass

Wayne Brainerd

Hunter heads 'em off at the pass

I lucked out again this year. Sunday morning I was in all kinds of elk sign as I hunted the east/southeast slopes of Little Gravel, but no elk yet. I hit fresh tracks of a small herd about 10 a.m. They went up and over the south ridge of Little Gravel to the west side, then turned north into Hall Creek.
 
I could tell from their occasional sounds they were crossing the draw and heading for the far side, and I wasn't getting any closer since I had spotted a trail cow out in front of me. I moved ahead faster, staying above them on a parallel course to the other side.
 
It looked like they might head uphill into the old clear cut on the ridge between Hall and Denver Creek. So I dropped my pack and started trotting up into the clear cut above them. I saw a cow disappear into the lodgepole timber in the clear cut, at about 100 yards. Then a spike came up out of the timber below me at about 60 yards, followed by this bull and some others.
 
The spike saw me out in the open and stopped, which made the big bull stop as well - bad mistake. He was standing perfectly broadside with a tree blocking his head and neck, but I had a clear shot at his vitals. I had already pulled up on him when he stopped. I lined up and squeezed the trigger. That was a lot of elk to pack out alone!

Once-in-a-lifetime bull

Chad Palovich

Once-in-a-lifetime bull

I started hunting elk in southern Colorado with my dad when I was 11, near the town where I grew up. My dream has been to shoot a 400-class bull. During my many years of hunting, I have harvested my share of nice bulls, but sometimes come away with nothing but my dreams and blisters on my feet.
 
In all my years in the field, I've only seen a few bulls that were grand enough to be in the elusive 400-class category. I've never had the opportunity to take one, until last November.
 
This hunting season started with me being as excited as I have ever been. As I started, I walked towards the top of a ridge and saw fresh tracks. I soon came upon four monster elk about 65 yards away.
 
I got that same feeling every hunter gets - the adrenaline rush, the heightened senses and the idea that this could be the one I’ve been waiting for.
 
I didn’t have much time to be selective, so I drew down on the group, picked one bull, made sure the others weren’t in the way, and took my shot. They all busted out, but the one I shot went a different direction. It was that instant when I knew I hit him. After tracking him a ways, I walked up on the bull that I had always dreamed of. 
 
It takes 60 days for the antlers to dry before it can be officially scored. Those 60 days seemed to last the 31 years it took to get him! He scored 402.
 
Even though I harvested the greatest bull of my life this season, every season after this will be just as exciting as it was 31 years ago when it all started.

When weather pushes elk, go with what you know

Dana Lambert, Gunnison

When weather pushes elk, go with what you know

Changing hunting spots proved tough for us despite months of scouting and strategic planning.
 
Even though my husband had been successful at our old spot for eight straight years, the thought of a new spot seemed an exciting challenge — something different. While scouting the new spot in Unit 54, we saw scores of elk and tons of sign. We were certain we had found a secluded spot with abundant elk and we readied ourselves for the most successful opening morning in history.
 
Reality started to set in two days before the season opened, as we were setting up camp along with dozens of other groups. The weather was hot and dry and the elk were gone. Still, we persisted, relying on what we had witnessed while scouting in July and August.
 
After five long days of endless hiking with no sign of elk, we conceded and went home - our spirits crushed.
After refreshing ourselves with hot showers and clean clothes, our thoughts drifted in the direction of the trusty old hunting spot - just 15 miles away. We still had a full day left to hunt.
 
Arriving at our old spot, we immediately noticed elk sign everywhere and by 11 a.m., my husband was watching this beautiful bull feeding in a small opening. By 5:30 p.m. — after several trips up a long, steep hill to the truck — our season was successful and we were relieved and grateful to have our freezer fully stocked again.
 
Photo and story by Dana's wife, Crystal Lambert

Days of walking pay off

Danelle Busch

Days of walking pay off

My husband, Riley Busch, filled his tag on day No. 2 of our hunt. We were hunting in Unit 32 during first season with my mom and my little brother.

On day No. 3, we got up early sent my brother one way while my mom hung out at the truck. We heard shots and moved to the top of a ridge where we could see a herd of elk. We looked down and saw this bull coming out into an opening. I took my shot and brought down this monster. All the days of walking and hard hunting were well worth it.

Photo by Danelle's husband, Riley

Stalking strategy bags bull

Art Estes, Bellevue, Neb.

Stalking strategy bags bull

It was the fifth day of the hunt and I hadn't seen much. I was walking up a draw on the way up to a spot on Mexican Ridge in Unit 16. Timber was on my left and 100 yards in front of me was sagebrush on the ridge to my right. All of a sudden, I heard several elk quickly moving up the draw to my left.
 
I froze, waited until the elk slowed down in front of me and saw two cows starting to graze in the sage. Guessing they might go to the top of the ridge, I backed out to where they couldn't see me and went over the ridge to my right. Then, I moved parallel up the ridge in the timber until I reached the point where I thought they might intersect me.
 
Looking up the ridge, I could see the rear of one elk, so I prepared to take the next elk that showed itself. To my surprise, the next elk wasn't a cow; it was this huge bull that scored  304 1/8 gross and 298 3/8 net on Pope and Young.
I've never experienced such a heart-pounding moment in my life. It took me 15 minutes to stop shaking after the 12-yard shot and after I found the bull (texting was impossibleeeeeeee).
 
Photo by John Field

Honed archery skills pay off for wife - three times!

Vicky Cable, Zanesville, Ohio

Honed archery skills pay off for wife - three times!

I've been going to Colorado for the last six years with my husband Tom to elk hunt in the San Juan National Forest.
 
In 2009, I shot my first cow elk. Then, in 2011, I harvested a beautiful 5x5 bull. This year, it was another successful hunt when I took this awesome 6x6.
 
We had just walked into the woods, a short distance from camp, when we heard a bull bugle. He was close so Tom bugled back and here he came. I drew back and shot him at 16 yards with my Matthews Monster bow.
 
I feel extremely fortunate to have a husband who taught me how to shoot and who will share his love for the great outdoors.

Next Generation Carries on Family Tradition with First Bull

Taylor Elliott, age 14

Next Generation Carries on Family Tradition with First Bull

When I woke up on the second day of Colorado’s first-rifle elk season and started hiking up the hill in the dark, I knew something exciting was about to happen.
 
As my dad and I hiked up a ridge in Unit 14, by Steamboat Springs, we heard a calf call. My dad signaled me to move forward. He said there were elk ahead of us. We followed their tracks up the hill but lost them in the thick brush. When we walked into a stand of lodgepole pines, my dad pointed in front of us and said, “bull.” I followed his finger with my eyes and watched a bull stand up and walk calmly away.
 
After a few calls I got a little discouraged, but that’s when the bull walked back in. Thankfully, my dad was watching. The bull walked down and then up the hill, giving me time to get into a better shooting position.
 
As the bull walked behind some trees, my dad lost sight of him. He was startled when I pulled the trigger.  After I took the shot, I could not see an antler; I thought I had shot it off. My dad and I watched him run off.  After a few seconds I heard a gigantic crashing sound as he ran into two dead saplings and knocked them over. We waited for a few minutes; I could feel adrenalin taking over my body.  Then I realized I had gotten my first elk!
 
by Taylor, age 14. Photo by Mark Elliot

Hunts with family, friends make memories count

Taylor and David Lynn

Hunts with family, friends make memories count

The photo above is of my son Taylor with his first buck antelope that he shot opening morning at 100 yards. We found this 15-plus inch big guy feeding in the morning sun all by himself.
 
I set up my Montana decoy and my brother helped Taylor get into position for the shot since the buck was coming in to see the decoy. He came into about 100 yards and stopped broadside to us. Taylor settled on his shoulder and pulled the trigger, dropping the buck.
 
David Lynn and his father harvested a bullThe other photo was taken by my brother of me and my father. He has taken me and my brother hunting since we were old enough to go with him.
 
I shot this bull early Tuesday morning in the first season on public ground; he was running with five cows when they crested the ridge above us, silhouetted by the sky. He came down off the top and passed behind a small hill below us, coming out on the other side and climbing up the far hill.
 
I shot one time, loaded another round and got ready to shoot again but saw him start rolling down the hill. We found him at the bottom and celebrated, took lots of pictures and then went to work getting him back to camp.
 
I love hunting with family and friends and there is no better place than Colorado

Occasionally, elk come to you

Roger Wood

Occasionally, elk come to you

I left camp bright and early the morning of Oct. 28 during second rifle season last year. I saw a heard of elk moving to a bedding area. Later that afternoon, I went back to the area where they went into the woods. Before I got to where I wanted to be, the elk came moving back out of the timber to feed. I harvested this great bull elk at 200 yards.

A close shot, really close

Dickie Farley, Murray, Ky.

A close shot, really close

I've hunted in Colorado since 1980 and have only missed three out of 32 years. It’s kinda in my blood, I guess you would say.
 
I was watching a deer last season when this big boy came upon me. It was opening morning of the first rifle hunt. I had just said to myself that I had never taken one on opening morning.
 
I had my scope cranked up to 9 power watching the deer and I noticed the deer was looking at something to its right. I came off the scope and leaned back so I could see around the stump I was sitting by and all I could see were antlers coming. He walked within 20 yards of me, broadside. I still had my scope on 9 power, but I did not want to move. Like to have never found him in the scope. My first shot took him down, the second put him down for good.
 
That makes four bulls we have harvested while sitting by the same stump. Guess you could say it is a honey hole, and all on public land in Unit 70.
 
I finally got the big boy, and the locals were very helpful getting it back to camp.
 
Score: 287 4/8.

First bull ‘at least a 330-class’

Braxton Campbell

First bull ‘at least a 330-class’

I shot this bull elk opening morning of third season near Summit County.  This was the first bull elk I’ve harvested. I have been hunting the same area for elk and mule deer since I was 12 and have never shot a bull in that area. I have always seen them but have never have gotten close enough to get a shot.

I shot this bull after my dad and I spotted three bulls across the draw. They were spooked from down below us and I could never get a shot at them until they finally disappeared in the trees on the other side of the draw.  Five minutes later, as I was looking across the draw where the bulls went up, my dad hits me and standing above us at 250 yards was this bull. I swung my gun, got him in my scope, took one shot and he walked about 20 yards and dropped.

My dad and I knew this bull elk was legal but had no idea he was at least a 330-class bull.  This year was one of the best hunting years I have taken part in with friends and family.

Photo by Bruce Campbell

Just another day on the job, sort of

Matthew Jaramillo, Conejos County

Just another day on the job, sort of

As two local butchers, my friend and I ended up doing our everyday job on our hunt, but this time it wasn’t with beef.
After a long day at the shop, my co-worker Patrick Navares and I were deciding where to go hunting the next morning. We loaded the ATVs and got the gear ready for an early morning third-season rifle hunt in unit 81.
 
There was a good amount of snow in the area, which helped because nobody had been driving around in trucks and probably didn't want to freeze on an ATV. We stopped on top of a hill and glassed the hillside where I spotted this bull. He was about 900 yards out. The wind was in our favor and so we started our 500-yard stalk.
 
I didn’t want the bull to spook, so I took a 400 yard shot. After the shot, I watched it through the scope, waiting to see what would happen. Nothing. Patrick said I missed and to shoot again. No sooner did he say that than the bull starts rolling downhill. Success!
 
tagged it and dragged it with the ATV all the way back to the truck. As you all know, that’s the point where the real work begins. Luckily, we do it for a living.
The bull’s official score was 323.
 
Photo by Patrick Navares

Bull taken near Poncha Springs

Sam Gates, Center County, Penn.

Bull taken near Poncha SpringsThis bull elk was killed in unit 82 by Sam Gates of Pennsylvania. It was taken during third rifle season. His party was hunting out of Poncha Springs.

Woman takes second bull elk

Andrea Sokolowski

Woman takes second bull elk

It was the second to last day of the first rifle season. My friend, Lindsay Gartner, and I had been hunting hard since Saturday morning but we couldn't seem to find the elk. The year before they seemed as plentiful as the aspen leaves.

We were headed back to a north-facing conifer forest at about 9,000 feet to see if we might run into the two bulls we heard bugling the night before. I had spooked one of them less than a quarter-mile from the truck.  I thought I should follow his tracks to see which side of the ridge he’d taken. I hoped I’d run into more animals along the way.

Lindsay and I parted ways to hunt different sides of the drainage. As I walked away, I joked about firing a couple of shots just so I could use my gun because I didn’t think I’d be getting anything. I found the bull’s tracks easily and followed them uphill in the soft grass. Not 15 minutes into hiking I came upon the bull, standing broadside about 100 yards uphill from me in the trees. I couldn’t believe it. He was in the same place as the night before.

I feel lucky to have harvested a bull the past couple of years. Every year I learn more about elk behavior and every year I realize I have so much more to learn.

Photo by Lindsay Gartner

Annual elk trip pays off

Rusty Heath, New Mexico

Annual elk trip pays off

Hunting has always been a way of life for my family. Each year, my brother and I travel to Colorado to hunt with our cousin who lives in Breckenridge. This is a tradition that has been going on for more than 20 years.
 
This year, during the third rifle season, on the first Sunday of the season, I harvested a 330+ class bull. After all the work of quartering an packing out my bull, we all looked at each other and thanked Colorado and the Lord for filling our freezer just in time for another long winter.
 
Thanks, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, for another great hunt.

Slow hike kicks up 5X5 bull

Bryan Peck

Slow hike kicks up 5X5 bull

I hunted from 5:30 a.m. until noon on the opening day of elk rifle season 2011 near Meeker.  I felt really discouraged because I had missed my chance twice that morning when I found some cows in the heavy timber. I could not take a clean shot through the trees.
 
Upset and feeling like I needed to get back out soon, I decided to head back out after a short lunch.  I figured I had a lot of time until the elk would be out and about later that evening, so I took my time hiking out to my spot. Hiking slowly and quietly was worthwhile because a great 5X5 bull came through the aspens toward me.
 
I used my bolt-action Winchester .338, a gun my father had used and passed down to me. I was so full of adrenaline after the shot that my hands were shaking. I could not believe I had just bagged this great animal with my dad’s rifle. I was very proud to show him later that evening.

Louisiana woman finds buck looking back at her

Mickie Cash, Louisiana

MickieCash buck.JPG

My name is Michael Annette Cash, but I go by Mickie. My husband and I live in Louisiana and we started hunting in Colorado in 2007. We have hunted there every year since, in GMU 12 near the town of Hamilton.

Last year was just like all the past years of hunting — we would go out and scout a couple of days before the season opened to see where we wanted to hunt. 

We had spotted two nice mule deer in the valley on the back side of our lease and also saw a couple of nice bucks behind our cabin, but it was early in the season so we waited.  

On Tuesday morning we awoke to about a foot of snow on the ground and our hopes were up that the deer would be moving. We decided to go to the back side where we saw the deer in the valley. When we got there, the bucks we spotted a couple days before were following some does. We headed to them, but by the time we got there they had disappeared. As we sat there, I looked to my right and there stood a nice buck looking directly at me about 200 yards from where I was sitting. I watched him for what seemed like forever and then he turned his head, which allowed me to get in a position where I could take a shot with my .300 Winchester Short Magnum.   

I was successful in harvesting a nice 4 x 5 with a 26 ½-inch spread — which is now the largest mule deer in our collection. 

In the past my husband has been the one to find and put me on the deer I harvested, but this year I can finally say I did it on my own!

California woman tags trophy Colorado mule deer

Krista Flores, California

KristaFlores buck.JPG

This was my first out-of-state mule deer hunt in Colorado with my family. We hunted in northwest Colorado, near Meeker.

On the fourth morning after a snow storm, I saw this deer while hiking through 12 inches of snow along a ridge at 7,800 feet elevation.

“Brutus” stood broadside in a tree well 300 yards away. I quickly took a seat in the snow and set up for my “once-in-a-lifetime shot.” I tried to calm my breathing, even though it was near impossible, and focused on squeezing off a shot at this giant 7x5 mule deer. 

I named this buck “Brutus,” because of his size. This deer has two cheaters and a drop on one side, and a cheater on the other side with a 29-inch spread, which scored 186 1/2.

Aside from the obvious trophy that will soon be mounted on my wall at home, the fact that I was able to share this moment with my husband and family makes this a trip that I will never forget. I can’t wait to go back!

Woman's first rifle hunt with father earns big buck

Jenna Meyer

JennaMeyer buck.JPG

Some of my earliest memories stem back to my family’s ranch in McCoy, in GMU 15. Year after year, I remember feeling proud and envious as I watched my father harvest deer and elk; growing up with a hunter gave me a great appreciation for animals, while also getting me excited for my future career as a hunter and what it would bring.

So, 2013 was my first year rifle hunting, and I was fortunate enough to share the experience with the man who taught me how to hunt, my father John Poukish.

We started the morning early and spotted several deer, however none of the opportunities “felt right” to me. As we sat down for lunch I was skimming the mountainside feeling very eager and… there he was — a majestic, beautiful buck in his bed of timber and snow.

It was the connection I had been waiting for — a far shot of about 300 yards, but I had been practicing and felt confident. I set up in the prone position and gathered my breathing, pulled the trigger and made a clean kill.

I was overwhelmed with excitement and feel very blessed to have harvested such a stunning animal. It is safe to say, I have the fever and cannot wait for my future adventures!

Hiring a sitter and heading to the field brings woman first archery buck

Heidi Proctor, Delta

HeidiProctor buck.JPG
We hunt in the North Fork area in southwest Colorado. Two days before the season's end I harvested my 5x5 muley at 30 yards with my bow. I was so proud — it doesn't compare to rifle hunting.

I have always chuckled at the child-like giddiness you see on hunting shows.

Last year, I accompanied my husband during his elk hunt and was astonished by the incredible experiences in the field. This year, I decided I was ready to try my hand at shooting something other than 3-D targets.

We ran into several does all season. The day before I filled my tag we finally saw a couple nice bucks. Busted by both, I was sure that I had blown my chance for the season.

As a last-ditch effort I called a sitter, geared up and headed out on my own. After two hours of stillness, I watched this beast close the more than 1,500-yard gap between him and I.

No more perfect than a story, he came right down my alley. I prepped, pulled, and released. Since I was by myself, I lacked confidence of my shot placement. Sure enough, it couldn't have been better placed nor any better of an experience to top it off — to call my husband and finally get to share my very own giddy moment (which still remains, of course!).

He will not be my last. Happy hunting!

Youth harvests buck with dad, grandpa's help

Kohl Tobin

KohlTobin buck.jpg
It was opening day of second season rifle. We were in GMU 58 with two licenses to fill. We arrived late. Many hunters were already in place at "The Bear Hill," including some 4-wheelers. It did not look promising with so much competition.

Hunters in trucks continued up the rocky road to the backside of the hill. Hunters on quads watched the front side. We watched the bottom. After an hour, we relocated to check another area.  

As we came around the side of the hill, I spotted a buck about 200 yards uphill. Grandpa stopped and shut off the truck allowing Kohl and I to get ready. Fortunately, we stopped behind some brush that blocked the view of the truck. We used the brush to our advantage to gain a better shot.  

We took a kneeling position to shoot when the buck turned and looked right at us. After quick deliberation, I passed the opportunity to Kohl to drop the animal and aim high. Slowly Kohl squeezed the trigger while Grandpa watched through binoculars.

After the shot, Kohl and I went to investigate, searching for anything that verified Kohl hit the animal. Grandpa joined the investigation, commenting that he'd seen the shot hit right behind the left shoulder, a perfect shot in his opinion. After 15 minutes, Grandpa walked around a bush and there the buck lay.

I spotted it, Kohl shot it, and Grandpa helped find it. A team effort!

Story by Kohl's father, Robert Tobin. Photo by Kohl's grandfather, Patrick Napier.


In the right place at the right time

Chris Downie

ChrisDownie buck.JPG

The first buck is a memory that lasts a lifetime. My youngest son Chris got his hunter safety card when he was 6, along with his older brother and sister. He couldn’t read the test questions, but as they were read to him, he only missed one! Tagging along with me and his older siblings on hunts kept the material fresh in his mind.

It was finally his turn to hunt deer fourth season this year, and we choose an area near Mount Evans that had produced some nice bucks over the years. Our strategy was to be up there every morning, having silently made our way to the most likely crossing. After a couple mornings, we were having no luck. 

On the last day of the season we made one last trek, getting up there a good hour before daylight. Big brother Luke came along for the hike. As the sun’s glow began to outshine the lights of Denver, we glassed the hillside. It didn’t take us long to find an unusual looking pair of “branches” stick up from a bush. Yes, that was our buck, hiding behind that bush watching us! As we crept forward to about 120 yards up the steep hillside, he rose and stood broadside. 

“OK Chris, this is it,” I said. “Remember to take your breaths, let the third one out halfway, squeeeeeze that trigger and watch for the bullet to hit through the scope.”

The shot rang out and the buck dropped back behind the bush.

“Did I get him?!” “You sure did!”  We started the climb to find him lying just slightly off his secluded bed. 

“I feel a lot more like a man today,” Chris said. I knew just what he meant…

Story by Chris's father, James Downie

3 animals, 5 days, 13 years old

James Schulz, 13; Cincinnati, Ohio

3 animals, 5 days, 13 years old

My name is James Schulz and I’m 13 years old. I hunt whitetail deer where I live in Ohio but I was extra excited when my dad booked my first elk hunt. It was a September archery hunt with Tor Hayward of Hayward Ranch in western Colorado. I got elk, bear and mule deer tags.
 
James Schulz with bull elkOn the second evening of the hunt my dad and I sat over a water hole in a blind made of brush and trees. Near last shooting light, a big 6x6 bull stepped out of the brush at 65 yards. He stopped and looked our direction then walked to the water. I ranged him at 45 yards and released an arrow from my 60-pound Hoyt bow. He went 52 yards and dropped. Tor saw this from the hilltop and raced down to help celebrate.
 
The next evening we spotted a black bear one mile away. We raced toward it to get a shot before dark. Using a .30-378 rifle, I hit the bear at 75 yards. He ran into a thicket and dropped. He weighed 250 pounds.
 
The next morning we went for an archery mule deer. We took a 4x4, saw a shooter buck, got into position and I made a 15 yard lung shot from my knees through an opening in the brush.
 
I’ll never forget the week that I got three animals in five days!

Young hunter's fork-horn buck

Will Hultzapple, 15

Young hunter's fork-horn buck

I was successful in drawing a Unit 28 buck tag for the 2011 second deer season. We found a rancher near my cabin that gave us permission to hunt his land. On opening morning it was windy so we decided to hunt through the thick stands of aspen and pine. We saw seven does that morning, but no bucks.
 
We then decided to hunt a patch of pine trees at the top of a mountain. We walked an old logging road when, all of a sudden, I spotted a fork horn in a stand of trees next to the trail. I leaned against a tree and BOOM! The fork horn took three steps and expired. It was so exciting! Overall it was a wonderful hunt!
 
Photo by Deron Hultzapple

A truth better than fiction

Michael and Dee Roy, Byron Topper; Henrietta, Texas

A truth better than fiction

While hunting mule deer in the first-rifle season of 2009, my son Michael, long-time hunting buddy Byron Topper and I were on public land in Unit 70 south of Norwood. After two days without success, we left to restock our supplies. Since it was late when we returned we hunted close to camp, not expecting to see much.

We left Byron about 150 yards from camp and Michael and I walked into the woods. Right away, we saw a nice muley feeding. Michael tried a quick shot and missed, sending the deer into the brush. Before I could even tease him about it the deer came right back out.

Michael shot again and this time the muley went down. As we waited a few minutes to make sure it wasn’t going to get back up, Michael spotted another buck stepping out of the same brush.

This time I tried a quick shot and, crazily enough, I also missed. But the deer just stood there. A second shot brought him down. We called Byron to watch one deer while Michael and I headed back to camp with the other on a hauler.

On the way, we saw yet another buck! Michael ran to get Byron and - for the third time that day - one of us missed an easy shot. The buck ran about 20 feet and stopped to feed again. Bryon’s second shot was right on target.

Within 45 minutes, with three missed shots, all three of us filled our buck tags within 200 yards of camp.

- Dee Roy

Dewain Roy and hunting partners

Young hunter takes 4x4

Chad Nunnery

Young hunter takes 4x4

It was really cool. We started watching a really nice ravine and then decided we should walk into the ravine.
 
Then, I just look over at the the other hill and all I can see are the ears of a deer sticking up above it. I show my dad and he tells me, "Shoot it, shoot it."
 
That got my adrenaline rushing and I put a shell in the chamber. I aimed while it was running 250 yards away, took the safety off and shot. At first I thought I had missed, but then my dad tells me he dropped. We walked up to it and I had made the best shot I could have ever made. And that was my first deer I have shot, a 4x4 mule deer that made me so happy.

Mom's hunt a great family outing

Holly Miller

I grew up in Colorado, hunting with my family outside of Gypsum. Often I was the only girl in hunting camp, but that never bothered me. Occasionally my mom joined us.
 
My parents bought me a 270 Winchester for my high school graduation gift... a pretty unusual gift for a 17-year-old girl, but I was thrilled.
 
I never hunted with a bow until about five years ago, when my husband bought me a bow for my birthday. I was so excited to get back into a sport I have always loved. My very patient husband taught me to shoot it and we set out to hunt. I have had a few opportunities in the last four years to harvest deer, but hunting with a bow is very different than hunting with a rifle, it takes a different set of skills and a lot more patience!  Estimating distance has never been my strong suit, but I am getting better at it.
 
This year, I was finally successful.  I got a doe with a 46-yard shot, one arrow, that went all the way through. We found the arrow later, stuck in a pine cone.
 
It was fun to share this moment with my husband and two daughters (ages 11 and 13), I hope that our girls will continue to be interested in hunting as they grow up - it is a wonderful sport to share with family and friends.
 
Photo (left to right): Kianna, dog Jada, Holly, Cheyanne.
Taken by Eric Miller.

Massive mid-day buck

Teresa Brevik

Massive mid-day buck

My name is Teresa Brevik and I am a native of Durango. I have been waiting to see a buck like this my entire life. I had not been able to put in for a license for four years because I was in Texas going to school. Finally, I graduated, came home and drew a third season buck tag, private land only in unit 75.

I scouted all summer for the right deer. Little did I know, I had a monster buck lurking not too far away. The hard part about hunting during third season in 2009 was the full moon.

On the fifth day of the season, I decided to try a mid-day attack. I went out at about 1:30 in the afternoon and snuck into the oak brush. I saw this buck and I froze. He was massive and gorgeous. There he was, standing broadside to me on the other side of a downed tree. I took one deep breath and tried to steady my .270. All I could see was the top of his shoulders through the grass.

I shot and everything took off. I thought I missed him and my heart sank. When I walked around the tree, I heard movement about 20 yards away. I saw my buck lying under a tree. I had hit right on.

I was, and still am, the happiest girl in the world.  I want to thank the owner of the private land for letting me and my family hunt there every year.

"...More Big Bucks"

Rod Fenske

Dear DOW,
I want to tell you folks how pleased I am with my deer hunt. I hunted during the second season and I saw more big bucks than I have seen in years. I've lived in Colorado since the early 1960s. You folks have done yourselves proud with deer management. Reminds me of the old days when my dad and I hunted together.
 
I'm having the deer I harvested mounted. The game warden in the area — I only know him by his first name, Paul — checked my tag and was a real pleasure to talk to. You should be proud to have him as a wildlife officer.
 
Again, thanks.
Sincerely,
Rod Fenske

20 days of tracking

Lew Webb

20 days of tracking

I actually hunted this particular buck (and his buddy) for the first 20 days of the season and finally arrowed him (one arrow) on the morning of that 20th day. He gross scored 206 Pope & Young as an inline 5x5, and was hanging with a 200" typical 4x4. Either would have done nicely!

I live and hunted my deer in Unit 75 and this was within 5 miles of Durango. He would look much larger than this photo makes him look, if I wasn't a 300-pound guy!

Black powder buck

Elvie R. Conley, Jr.

Black powder buck

Today was a great day! I was hunting by Saguache, in Game Management Unit 681, with my father. On our way home we decided to head down one more small draw. I had little faith since it was already 4 p.m. After a day of seeing nothing but rabbits and squirrels, I didn't think there would be anything in this small finger-like draw.
 
My dad, however, always said he saw deer in this area. As we came around the bend, bedded down behind a rock with nothing but antlers showing, was this beautiful buck.
 
I took a shot at 60 yards with Grandfather Thompson's .50-calibur muzzleloader. The smoke from the black powder left me with no clue if I had hit him. The buck lurched forward a bit and took off down the draw. I reloaded as fast as I could, but with a black-powder rifle that is a process. Running down the bend, we spotted him 70 yards away by a cliff face. On that final shot I held my breath, pulled the trigger and I dropped him.
 
It was so exciting, both my dad and me were ecstatic. That day, Sept. 16, 2013, will be a day I will always remember hunting with my dad and bagging my first buck!

Father-son Hunt Ends with Buck, Bull

Kevin Brookes

Father-son Hunt Ends with Buck, Bull

My father and I have been hunting together ever since I could carry a gun. We like the Do-It-Yourself model and hunt public land without guides. This year marked our second elk hunt together. We were fortunate to draw muzzleloader tags for both elk and mule deer.
 
Opening morning found us deep in the woods only three hours west of Denver. We split up, covering two separate valleys. I decided to swing through an area where I spotted a great mule deer the week prior. As I worked my way through the thick timber, I spotted a few small bucks and one nice black bear. Approaching the top of the ridge, I heard an elk bugling in the valley below. I was able to get the wind in my favor and gave a few cow calls, which he responded to right away.
 
I got a glance of him coming through the timber about five minutes later. My first thought was that he was a Kevin Brookes' dad with his bucksmaller satellite bull. I gave two more calls and he turned towards me and started running up the valley. Once I was able to get a good look at him I knew right away he was a great bull. He gave one last bugle at about 40 yards and turned broadside.
 
It was a hunt I will never forget, and the only regret from that morning was that my father and I had split up.  It would have been great to have him experience the entire hunt.
 
The mule deer was harvested two days later, less than a quarter-mile from where I harvested my bull. We saw 25 elk during our hunt and, on the last day, we called in another great 6X6 for my father, but the bull never presented a clear shot.
 
Colorado is a great place to hunt elk. With a lot of patience and hard work anyone can come to this great state and harvest an animal on public land.

Husband credits new bride’s help to get ‘buck of a lifetime’

John Garvin of Conowingo, Md.

Husband credits new bride’s help to get ‘buck of a lifetime’

This hunt started in 2006 when I first met my wife Priscilla. She was a hunter and I told her about my trips to Colorado and how great it would be to hunt there together, so we started applying for preference points.
 
In 2009 we drew muzzleloader licenses, I drew a deer tag and my new wife an elk tag. When the time arrived, my friend Barry and I left for Colorado and drove 1,900 miles in 34 hours straight. We set up camp at a state park. Our wives flew out to join us for the week.
 
We returned to camp one afternoon to eat and get some rest, when the camper across from us said he and his wife were out in their boat fishing and had seen a big buck wade onto an island in the lake. Priscilla and I drove around the lake to spot him. I was having trouble believing a large buck would be hanging out with boaters and fishermen around, but there he was!
 
My wife agreed to wade over to the island with me. Once there, she circled around and popped up over a small ridge. The lounging buck jumped up and ran straight at me. I placed a shot in the middle of his neck from 60 yards and he dropped in his tracks.
 
I wouldn't have been able to get this buck if it wasn't for my beautiful bride. Not many women will roll up their pant legs and wade through a lake to help their husband kill a buck of a lifetime.

Wait pays off with two tags in one hunt

Steve Wilde, Colorado Springs

Wait pays off with two tags in one hunt

After 15 years of acquiring preference points for a bull elk and eight years gaining points for a buck deer, I successfully drew both tags for the same hunt on the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area in 2012.
 
Three very beneficial scouting trips were taken to the area prior to the five-day hunt.  Accompanied by my oldest daughter Allie, and my good friend Walt, I harvested a 4X4 buck at 200 yards on the second day and a heavy 5X5 bull from 125 yards at sundown on the fifth day.
 
Many miles were walked and the hunt was difficult. But we had a great and memorable hunting experience. Many thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others for acquiring and managing this unique area.

Third time's a charm

Tayler McKee

Third time's a charm

This is my third and largest buck that I've shot on our ranch in southwest Colorado.
 
My dad and I hunted the whole season and every time we saw a buck he would disappear before we had a chance. On the last night of my season, as we came into an opening on the ranch we saw this buck standing there, perfect shot. It was a last minute shot and, luckily, I got him.
 
Of course, we had forgotten the flashlight, so we field dressed him in the dark and then drug him to the truck. I was excited to have filled my tag since I hadn't drawn a tag in the last two years.
 
Photo by Floyd McKee

First buck, harvested at age 61

Lynn Hardy

First buck, harvested at age 61

After three unsuccessful hunting seasons, including a trip to Alaska, I finally made my first harvest - a nice 3x3 buck.
 
I used my Remington 7mm .08 with a Leuopold scope and hunted at home, on private property. The buck was taken just after sunrise on opening day of the third rifle season in 2012.
 
I first learned to use a rifle in 2009.
 
Photo by Donnie Bergstrom

Wife nabs buck, bragging rights

Stephanie Carter

Wife nabs buck, bragging rights

My husband and I have been hunting together for more than 15 years around Salida, where he grew up. Nowadays, it is harder for the two of us to get away because we have three children and very busy lives. This year we were able to make it out and it was a true blessing …made even better when I filled my tag (with bragging rights, because my husband did not fill his)!

We set out early Friday morning in the dark, with steaming hot coffee and lots of maps. There hadn't been much sign when we were scouting. When we saw a deer, it was usually a doe. So, my hopes weren't too high this year.

Right after sunrise we saw a herd of deer — mostly does. However, after quite a bit of glassing, we spotted this buck. I headed over a few knolls and got into a good position for a shot. Some of the does spooked and all the deer started running away from me. I stayed on them and they finally calmed down.

I got into a good position again (with the usual argument right before I shoot of my husband saying I need to move closer and me saying that I’m good and can take the longer shot). As is typical, I did not listen to my husband and took the shot.

One shot at 295 yards and this buck was down. He's a great buck, still rubbing off his velvet in mid-November!

Photo by Chad Carter

Deer closes gap in range of waiting brothers

Brian Kailey, Merino, CO

Deer closes gap in range of waiting brothers

My family has been hunting in Colorado for five generations. My brother Jason and I had been planning this hunt in GMU 38 since April 4th; it was finally here. It was a brisk Saturday morning on Nov. 17th during fourth rifle season. We pulled up to the base of the mountain where we had been scouting the entire summer. We had seen some nice size bucks on this mountain on our scouts and our hopes were high.

We began hiking up the hillside, looking over the landscape around us. Right off the bat, we spotted a few does and a small 2x2 buck no more than 50 yards away from the vehicle. But that was about all the excitement we had for the next two hours.

Around 8:30 a.m., Jason spotted two nice size bucks moving out of the brush about 700 yards to the south of us. They were making their way to a water hole that we were set up on. It was a little breezy that morning — lucky for us the wind was blowing into our faces, keeping us down wind of the bucks.

We both raised our rifles and positioned ourselves for a shot. These bucks were on a mission and were showing no sings of stopping, so my brother and I just waited for them to close the gap between us. I shot my 5x6 buck at 30 yards, and Jason took his 4x4 at 60 yards. This is the biggest buck I’ve ever taken.

Photo by Jason Kailey

A first-time hunter and a deer named Fred

Nicole Pasillas

A first-time hunter and a deer named Fred

Oct. 26, 2012, was my first day in the wild as a real hunter and I was a bit nervous. The last time I shot anything was two years ago — it was a can, 50 yards away.
 
My boyfriend Michael Herrera, a Hunt Planner at Colorado Parks and Wildlife, was determined to share with me what he loves — hunting. I agreed to go on one condition: I was only going to shoot a big buck. I didn’t want to shoot anything that looked like a baby, and the shot had to be good.
 
We spotted bucks on our first day out, luck was on our side. When we got 300 hundred yards away, we set up. But I didn’t feel comfortable with my gun position and didn’t feel I had a good shot. We moved in, about 150 yards away. It was perfect but it took a good two minutes before I felt the gun and my breathing steady.
 
I saw my buck, paused for a second, took a breath and shot. I looked at Michael and he was smiling, his cousin was jumping with joy screaming, "You dropped him!"
 
When I saw my buck I was a little sad. But I thought about how he had lived a good long life, it was the circle of life. I put some grass in his mouth as a blessing to say thank you for his life and said a little prayer for him.
 
I also named him Fred. I felt Fred was a living creature so he deserved a name, for respect. Hunting is a sacred thing, I would rather eat a deer or elk instead of a cow that has not lived a good life. Michael has shared that aspect of hunting with me, and that trip was one to never be forgotten.

State has impressive whitetails

Mike Kardaseski

State has impressive whitetails

I took this whitetail deer on a cold and windy December morning in 2011 near Snyder, Colo.
 
I first saw him with 10 other whitetails approximately 600 yards away. Even from that distance, I knew he was the buck
I was after, having passed on several smaller bucks earlier in the season. Some sandhills provided the cover I needed to intersect his path and he crested a small ridge only 100 yards in front of me.
 
The buck was officially measured by Boone and Crockett with a gross score of 175 and final score of 163 3/8. I can't wait to get him back from the taxidermy shop later this year.
 
Most people think of Colorado as elk and mule deer country, and for good reason. But we have some impressive whitetail as well.

Friends in the right places

Chuck Hickman, Texas

Friends in the right places

While hunting in Kansas a couple of years ago with a life-long friend, Jeff Denton, from the Kanorado area, I had the pleasure to meet an eastern Colorado farmer named Lance, who later became a great friend as well.
 
I met Lance at our hunting camp in 2009. Like me, he has a passion for the great sport of hunting and the outdoors. After getting to know Lance, I invited him and his family to come down to Texas in 2010 to hunt Axis deer. Axis hunting is usually pretty tough, but Lance was able to take a couple pretty nice bucks.
 
Fast forward to early 2011, Lance called me and asked if I would be interested in coming to hunt on his farm with a landowner tag for archery? Of course I was interested, so eastern Colorado, here I come!
 
After a couple days of many busted stalks I was able to harvest my first archery mule deer buck. That was some hard hunting, but I loved every minute of it.
 
Thanks to Lance for being a great guide and for giving me the opportunity to hunt in the great state of Colorado!

Family’s weekend a success

Damian Lopez, and family

Family’s weekend a success

This was a very successful weekend for all of us. This was my son Nick’s  first buck (he’s 12), and my niece Darla’s first doe (she’s 13). All four deer were harvested during third rifle season.

From left to right is my brother-in-law Eddie, my son Nick, me, and my niece Darla. This was a very successful year of hunting for us, with these four deer and two additional buck antelopes.

Muley in the mahogany

Skip Wilson, Como

Muley in the mahogany

What a great year! I’ve been hunting South Park for 25 years and never have I seen so many mule deer. Kudos to the wildlife managers and biologists who work tirelessly to manage this exceptional habitat and bring it back to what it once was.
 
This wily rascal was a challenge. My son Caleb and I saw him at first light 200 yards across a small draw. He saw us too. However, he turned and defiantly faced us, shook his antlers, snorted and slowly walked off.
 
We watched him disappear over a ridge. My son reminded me of a lesson from Mark Lamb a few years ago. Mark said wherever you can find good patches of mountain mahogany you are bound to find good browsing deer. We cut this buck’s trail and realized he had doubled back and went right back into the mahogany. We, in turn, doubled back and traversed the same ridge just below the top.
 
We came to the mahogany and the buck was less than 50 yards away, standing belly-deep in mahogany, hiding his antlers in the aspen. He was staring straight at us, slightly quartering away.  I raised the rifle ever so slowly. I couldn’t believe he didn’t bolt. It seemed like an eternity before I got the sights on him.
 
Thanks, CPW, for all you do to ensure the well-being of our state’s big game and habitats. We are generally subsistence hunters because we eat deer and elk most of the year. But this fine muley was the icing on the cake for us!
 
Skip and Caleb Wilson

Colorado dream ends happily

Sherwin Sando, Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico

Colorado dream ends happily

Ever since a child, I dreamed of hunting in Colorado, “Land of the Monster Bucks.”
 
After purchasing my tag, I informed my two nephews (Darian and Pat) along with my buddy (Rourke). All were stoked to go on this adventure with me. What seemed like forever was three months of preparation. With all the proper gear purchased and my .30-06 sighted up to 400 yards, we were ready.
 
With a total of 8 miles hiked in Unit 371 on the first day, we had only encountered five does. We focused on Unit 37 on the second day. With only one deer sighted, we decided to break up camp and head further north on the third day, which turned out to be the best decision.
 
On the third afternoon, my buddy Rourke spotted a small forked horn which I was unable to spot as it disappeared in a thicket. I found a spot across the thicket with my nephew Darian and we waited for about 15 minutes when Darian spotted this buck slowly walking at the bottom of the canyon, about 160 yards away. I waited for the buck to give me a broadside shot. When it did, my one shot put the buck down right in its tracks.
 
This is a hunt I will never forget. I look forward to hunting in Colorado again.

First nonresident hunter in Unit 28 fills moose tag with beautiful bull

Rick Carosone

RickCarosonemoose.JPG

As I applied this year (2014) for the trophy species of Colorado, I could not help but think back to my great fortune in 2013. Prior to 2013, nonresident licenses were not available for bull moose in the high elevation game management unit 28. The first year it was offered, I got lucky. I checked my draw odds and 114 nonresidents had applied for the one tag. How lucky was I? 

I was fortunate to have great assistance — Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist Kirk Oldham and officer  Scott Murdoch provided invaluable information and took the time to answer many questions on more than a few occasions. 

My wife was ridiculously generous in making the 10-hour one-way drive not once but twice (the second over her birthday) to scout the unit during the summer. My good friend Rich Daines dropped a week of work to be with me during the hunt. It was a hunt of a lifetime in a breathtaking and stunning piece of the Colorado wilderness. 

All I can do is say thank you to the state of Colorado for making these licenses available to nonresidents, thank you to the employees of CPW who assisted me, and thank you to all the acquaintances, friends, and family who helped out. 

I am hoping for one more spectacular Colorado adventure — a mountain goat hunt. I am crossing my fingers that the draw gods take care of me AGAIN in the near future.



16-year-old harvests 42-inch bull

Jason Nicolas

JasonNicolas moose.JPG

A 15-year-old drawing a Colorado bull moose tag? My son Jason had lady luck on his side last year and did just that.

After many scouting trips to the same Jackson County unit where I shot my bull moose in back in 2008, we were confident about this hunt. We saw moose on every trip.

We set up camp two days prior to opening day and was actually visited by a bull moose that came right into camp the day before the season opened.

The first day was exciting — we heard two bulls fighting. Knowing bulls were in the area, we returned the next day. What a day! Sitting on the edge of the aspen meadow, we saw two big bulls and a few cows go through their mating call ritual. Skirting the edge of the meadow while the moose were preoccupied, we were within shooting distance with a difficult decision. Do we take the smaller of the two standing broadside at 100 yards? Or do we continue our stalk on the big one? With the big bull grunting only 50 yards around the corner, we continued the stalk.

With the safety off, the bull in the scope, he turned the wrong way and we had to watch as he walked away into the timber. We backed out and planned to return that evening.

That night, with only 30 minutes of shooting light left, we made a mad dash back. After the first cow call we could hear timber crashing and a grunting bull heading our way. It appeared and, at about 150 yards, he turned and gave us a broadside shot. The 30-06 barked once and the bull was on the ground.

My then 16-year-old son was jumping up and down in total disbelief that he had just shot a 42" bull moose!

By Jason’s father, Richard Nicolas

 JasonNicolas walkout.JPG

Father/son stalk pays off on prairie

Tyler Burke

DonnieTylerBurke pronghorn.jpg
photo by Jay Belk



My son Tyler and I were fortunate enough to be invited to hunt pronghorn in unit 87 after being gifted a buck tag from the landowner in 2013.

Being our first pronghorn hunt, we were a little nervous, but couldn’t wait for the opportunity! The veteran hunters in the group gave us some great advice as we planned our strategy for the weekend hunt.

We split into groups to cover the massive prairies. After several failed attempts to close the gap on herds of pronghorns, we decided to do a father/son stalk. We spotted a herd about 1,000 yards away and spent the next two hours pursuing the group. Hundreds of yards were covered either on hands and knees or crawling on our bellies! We would pay the price over the next few weeks as the cactus quills made themselves known! Our final dash of 200 yards was made after the herd made its way around a hill on the prairie. I peeked over the hill to see the position of the herd buck, who was tending a group of about 20 does. Tyler eased up the hill feet first to stay unnoticed. I held the shooting stick in position while Tyler took a deep breath and sat up into a shooting position. The does were on full alert, but the buck was too busy being a lover boy — Tyler made a perfect 120-yard shot.

This will be a hunt we remember for a lifetime! The bailing twine in the horns is being left on the mount!!

Donnie Burke and Tyler Burke


TylerBurke pronghorn.jpg

First outing for pronghorn

Lynn Morningstar, Bayfield, CO

First outing for pronghorn

When my wife and I drove through Comanche National Grasslands, it was a different world. We live in the mountains near Durango, so the flat vastness of the grasslands was quite a contrast.
 
Back at home, I thought of the many pronghorn we had seen and picked up the Big Game brochure to learn more about hunting them in Colorado. With a little research and a few phone calls, my friend and I applied for the draw.
We had maps for the Grasslands and arrived with time to scout before opening day.  Driving around can lead to discovering antelope; and we also subscribe to the “feet on the ground” approach to hunting.
 
We spotted some bucks against the skyline at 400 yards, but only small ones.  Mid-afternoon we began our approach on a distant group of pronghorn.  They were walking toward our hidden position – why take a long shot if you don’t have to?  At less than 200 yards I couldn’t resist any longer and centered the crosshairs on the herd buck.  He folded.
 
The next morning we spotted a lone pronghorn about 1,000 yards to our south and coming our way. They have binocular vision, so if we moved it would surely see us. He must have thought we were an intruder buck in his territory, or an available doe because he began a suicide run towards us. At 135 yards, the buck stopped and  Bruce dropped him in his tracks.
 
Colorado offers some fun and exciting pronghorn hunting opportunities. You should give it a try!

New generation learns ropes

Nate Morton

New generation learns ropes My father, my 5-year-old son and I got this nice 15-inch pronghorn in unit 87.  It took me seven years to draw the tag, but it was well worth the wait.

Harvest turns into double mount

Mark Farmer and father

Harvest turns into double mount

After five years, my dad and I were finally able to draw pronghorn tags for a unit in southeastern Colorado. We scouted the week before the season in an area that we thought was all public land.
 
After getting there, we realized there was a lot of private land, as well as a lot of unmarked, fenced property, which we were unsure about. We bought a very detailed map showing all the private land in the unit at the Forest Service Office. Between the map, which allowed us to hunt in areas most of the other hunters didn't think they could and the day of scouting the week before where we spotted both of the pronghorn we harvested, we had a short hunt.
 
Dad shot his pronghorn first thing in the morning and I shot mine just after lunch. We were back in Denver in time to catch the end of the University of Colorado game.
 
The pronghorn were mounted together by a taxidermist in Denver.

First pronghorn a 303-yard shot

Devon Lynn

First pronghorn a 303-yard shot

This is my son Devon with his first buck pronghorn. He dropped him at 303 yards with a 6mm Ruger on the Eastern Plains of Colorado in 2009. I had seen this buck earlier when I was archery hunting. With his wide spread, I knew this was the same one.

It was early Saturday when we left the tent. With our other hunting partners - grandpa, uncle, brother, and niece – we walked to the top of what I called my hill, I have hunted this hill for more than 30 years with success.

At the top, both Devon and I glassed for pronghorn and enjoyed each other’s company. About an hour into the day, a herd of five does and two bucks walked up the hill to the southeast. We quickly dropped over the back of the hill and headed toward a better interception point.

Within a few minutes, the first doe crested the hill and we got Devon situated for a shot. He waited until a buck was away from the others and squeezed the trigger, dropping it in his tracks. We were both so excited, giving each other high fives and hugs, almost racing each other to the downed animal.

I have been so fortunate to be able to hunt this property for more than 30 years with my father and brother, and now my son and his brother are starting their own adventures. Thank you to the land owner, my father and my two boys for these stories and the ones yet to come.

- David Lynn, father

Chico Basin Pronghorn

Alaura Prenzlow

Chico Basin PronghornAlaura Prenzlow, 14, harvested this pronghorn doe while hunting on the Chico Basin Ranch southeast of Colorado Springs.

Third hunt, third tag filled

Martin Campos

Third hunt, third tag filled

Here is the pronghorn I took on the first day of my hunt.
 
This is my third hunt in Unit 120, using the Big Game Hunter’s Access program. I have filled my tag all three times while hunting on the Trainor Ranch. If you are looking to see a lot of animals, this is a good place. But be prepared to put on the miles. The pressure from the surrounding area seems to push the animals onto the ranch.

Dad watches son’s first harvest

Nick Lopez

Dad watches son’s first harvest

This was my son’s first big-game hunt and we harvested this 72-inch buck in Eastern Colorado. Nick, 12, managed a double-lung shot from about 320 yards with a Stephens .243.
 
It was one of the best hunting trips I have been on because I got to be with my son when he harvested his first big-game animal.  I’m looking  forward to more years of hunting together. 
- Damian Lopez, Nick's father

After-school hunt tests her long-shot

Savannah Strauss, 17

After-school hunt tests her long-shot

This is my 17-year-old daughter with her doe pronghorn. Savannah and I went hunting Nov. 12 after she got out of school.

We went to unit 87 on my friend’s private land. We saw this pronghorn and parked about a half-mile away. We stalked it to within 250 yards, hiding behind small, rolling hills. She finally got in position and got off a shot with her 7mm Mag. The antelope ran about 100 yards and fell.

The feeling of seeing your kid get an animal is better than getting one yourself. It was her longest shot ever, and Savannah has been hunting since she was 12.

Photo and story by Chris Strauss

Long-awaited tag pays off with great stalk, great buck

John Luoma, Aurora

Long-awaited tag pays off with great stalk, great buck

In October this year (2012), I went on a long-awaited pronghorn buck hunt with high hopes. I drew a tag in GMU 135, south of La Junta. I had been waiting for quite some time for this tag and when I was selected with my preference points, I was ecstatic.
 
Prior to my hunt, I scouted the area on the northern section of Comanche National Grassland. I poured over the maps for likely camping, ambush, water spots, etc. I hunted it quite hard for six straight days.
 
On Thursday morning, I left camp for my eleventh hunt focused on a buck I had seen the night before on private land. I hunted a trail east of where I saw him and his does. As I came down into a wash, there he was – approximately 275 yards ahead of me with a smaller buck and a doe.
 
I worked my way through a coulee and was able to gain ground on them quickly. On hands and knees, with the wind in my face, I crawled up to the edge of the coulee and they were still there. I couldn’t shoot prone because of a rise between us, so I went into a sitting position and made a perfect heart shot at 167 yards. He never took a step and went down instantly.
 
I had a great and tough experience out there, and now I have great meat in the freezer and a wonderful mount for the wall. It was well worth the wait for this hunt.

Hunts with family, friends make memories count

Taylor and David Lynn

Hunts with family, friends make memories count

The photo above is of my son Taylor with his first buck antelope that he shot opening morning at 100 yards. We found this 15-plus inch big guy feeding in the morning sun all by himself.
 
I set up my Montana decoy and my brother helped Taylor get into position for the shot since the buck was coming in to see the decoy. He came into about 100 yards and stopped broadside to us. Taylor settled on his shoulder and pulled the trigger, dropping the buck.
 
David Lynn and his father harvested a bullThe other photo was taken by my brother of me and my father. He has taken me and my brother hunting since we were old enough to go with him.
 
I shot this bull early Tuesday morning in the first season on public ground; he was running with five cows when they crested the ridge above us, silhouetted by the sky. He came down off the top and passed behind a small hill below us, coming out on the other side and climbing up the far hill.
 
I shot one time, loaded another round and got ready to shoot again but saw him start rolling down the hill. We found him at the bottom and celebrated, took lots of pictures and then went to work getting him back to camp.
 
I love hunting with family and friends and there is no better place than Colorado

Hearty harvest on opening day

Luke Paige, Colorado Springs

Hearty harvest on opening day

Luke Paige, 12 years old, harvested this 72-inch class buck antelope on opening day, Oct. 1, 2011, in eastern Colorado. He harvested it with one shot from his Savage .243 at 170 yards. He was accompanied by his father Mike, grandfather Bob and brother Mitch, who also took a great buck. Luke is a fifth-generation hunter who enjoys the outdoors, fly fishing and pheasant hunting.

Harvest will be learning tool for taxidermy school

Aaron Alley, Fort Carson

Harvest will be learning tool for taxidermy school

My name is Aaron, 38 years old and stationed here at Fort Carson. After being stationed in Germany for the last four years, I was really looking forward to the 2011 season. I applied for and received a muzzleloader buck pronghorn tag.
 
My wife's grandparents own a large tract of land in GMU 133, in southern Colorado near Aguilar. All summer long, each time that I went to visit I watched the pronghorn, specifically one buck. I knew he was the one I wanted. I then realized that the rifle season was before the muzzleloader season and that got me to worrying.
 
A few days before the season, I was talking to my uncle and he mentioned that he had seen this buck within the last few days. He had made it through the rifle season.
 
I went down to the ranch the night before the season started. The next morning I rose with the sun. Shortly after getting to my overlook I spotted a band of pronghorn. To my surprise, all six animals were bucks.
 
I watched them for a few minutes, found the buck that I believed I had watched all summer and waited for them to get closer. Once they got to 100 yards, I steadied the muzzleloader and took the shot. He managed to run a short distance, then collapsed.
What a great year. The best part is that in February I will be attending the Colorado Institute of Taxidermy and this will be my first subject.

DJ G.: Ram hunt a dream come true

Hunter: DJ Groetken

DJ Groetken's bighorn ram

​The draw results were in and the time had come that I drew my Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep archery tag for Unit S32.  

I had spotted this ram on an early morning between Georgetown and Silver Plume. He was with a group of five other rams at the top of a rock chute around 10,000-feet elevation. After glassing them for nearly four hours and watching them bed down for the second time around mid-day, it was time to begin my stalk. 

The terrain was steep, climbing nearly 1,400 feet in elevation. I had made it to a rock ledge near the bedded rams, crawled out to the edge where there was a lone 3-foot-tall pine tree that had grown through the rock.  With a 75-foot drop below, this lone pine was my only cover while waiting out these rams for the next four hours from 120 yards away.

The moment came when the rams rose from their beds and started feeding in my direction. This 9½-year-old, full curl ram — the largest of the group — had provided me with a broadside shot at 48 yards. 

I want to thank Colorado Parks and Wildlife for the management and opportunity to harvest such a majestic animal within my home state. This hunt was a dream come true!​

Charles J.: Lucky to have friends on hunt

Hunter: Charles Jenkins

CharlesJenkins1.jpg

After decades waiting to draw a bighorn sheep license in my home state of Colorado, I was finally rewarded for my patience with an S-53 license, near Creede. I spent many days in the field doing pre-season scouting in preparation for opening day.

I was lucky to have five of my closest and experienced friends with me to help. I was very fortunate to get this beautiful 10-year-old ram on opening day.

Charles Jenkins poses with his ram

Thanks to all of the staff at Colorado Parks and Wildlife who were generous with information, and to all of my friends who helped me along the way. I couldn't have done it without them......THANKS!​​

2010 Bighorn took time, effort

Brenton Peterson, Durango

2010 Bighorn took time, effort

After countless hours scouting and many trips into the backcountry, my son Brent, Bobby and I were watching five rams. The problem was the rams were three miles, as the crow flies, and more than 4,000 vertical feet of steep cliffs to maneuver around the Emerald Lake area.

Brent and Bobby took off.  They spent a very cold, wet, sleepless night waiting for daybreak. With visibility at 30 yards and rain continuing on Wednesday, the 14-mile walk out was miserable.

Thursday evening Brent and I returned and found the same five rams. I returned to Durango that night to contact Brent’s uncle, Larry.  By 6:30 a.m. Friday, we were back on the mountain and had again spotted the rams. Brent was off on another stalk.

At 10:30 a.m., the rams exploded and ran in all directions. Brent had been busted. Then Larry pointed out the two bigger rams were looking downhill. They had not run!  At 11:10 a.m., the smaller ram stood looking uphill. The bigger ram then stood, dropped and slid down the avalanche shoot.

I heard the shot and saw Brent running downhill after the fallen ram.  He had closed the last 350 yards to 31 yards in his stocking feet!

The 28-mile roundtrip up the Pine River to retrieve Brent and the ram started at 4:30 p.m. Friday and ended at 4:30 a.m. Saturday. It was the happiest 28 hours of hunting in my life!

Submitted by Dave Peterson, Brenton's father

Hunter nabs full-curl bighorn

Kevin Hunt

Hunter nabs full-curl bighorn

After 10-plus years, I was fortunate enough to draw a bighorn sheep tag. And, thanks to the Sheep Class sponsored by the Colorado Parks & Wildlife, I met a great guide.

Earlier this season, I was even lucky enough to take a full-curl 13-year-old ram. My ram is exceptional. He will be a few inches short of the Boone & Crockett record book, but it is truly impressive as far as Colorado rams go. In addition, he looks exactly like the ram on the CPW logo.

Conditions for sheep hunting were tough due to our current hot dry conditions in the high country. We put in many hours glassing, walked uphill many miles and had a few blown stalks. But in the end it all paid off.

Here is a great picture of me with Mark Turner (middle) of Turner's Guide Service and my guide (far right) Brandon Powell. Mark and Brandon are members of the Colorado Outfitter Association and Bighorn Sheep Association. They help the CPW do sheep and goat counts each year. Mark is a sponsor of the CPW sheep seminar each year as well. True professionals!

Hearty preparation pays off

Rick Evans

Hearty preparation pays off

Realizing this was probably a once-in-a-lifetime draw, my brother Stuart took a week off of work and helped me get this 10-year-old ram in Unit 32. We lost 40 pounds of weight between us getting ready for this sheep hunt. 
 
We used the spot and stalk method to hunt. It took four days to find this ram, and we climbed nearly 4,000 vertical feet. Once we got 225 yards from the ram, it spooked and started making its way across a rock slide. I took a quick shot and dropped him. 
 
Thank you, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, for the chance to hunt big horn sheep.
 
Stuart Evans on left with Rick Evans on right

2013: Year of the bighorn

Chris Miller

2013: Year of the bighornChris Miller of Broomfield harvested this bighorn sheep in Unit S-9 during the 2013 season.

26 years to draw: 'Worth the wait' for her ram

Ronna Dellinger

26 years to draw: 'Worth the wait' for her ram

After 26 years of applying, I finally drew a Colorado bighorn sheep license. I prepared all summer, getting in shape along with my husband. Before opening day of the season, we hiked with a longtime friend near the summit of the mountain we would be hunting. We set up our spike camp the day before season so we would have a shorter hike opening morning. With opening morning’s arrival, we were all excited.
 
As we hiked to where we wanted to glass, I could not help but wonder what would be on the other side of the ridge. 
When we approached the glassing point, my husband looked back at us and indicated with hand signals that sheep were located.
 
After glassing them for a while, we knew there were two shooters in the band of rams. We stalked in closer and, once in position, waited for three hours in the baking sun for the rams to position themselves for a shot.  Then it happened, the ram I wanted stood and presented a shot. With that one shot, my ram fell immediately. Even though it was only a 150-yard shot, it took us nearly 20 minutes to cross the mountain to where the ram lay.
 
When I put my hands on it, emotions ran over me.  Finally, I was able to hold the golden horns of a bighorn ram.  Not just any ram -- my ram.
 
It was an experience worth waiting 26 years. For all of you other sheep hunters that have been applying for years, don’t give up.

14-day ram hunt ends in success

Tim Rollenhagen

14-day ram hunt ends in success

My 2013 bighorn sheep hunt was the hunt of a lifetime. I was shocked to have drawn a unit S32 rifle tag after building preference points for only 9 years. I attended the sheep hunter orientation and a sheep count, both presented by CPW, in addition to spending countless weekends scouting.

On opening morning, my father-in-law, John, and I woke up well before first light and began the steep hike to the vantage point where I planned to begin the 14-day hunt. 

The wind was howling, but luckily it was blowing directly in our faces. As I neared the vantage point and climbed around the rocky ridge I noticed the “white long-johns” of four sheep about 200 yards away. I quickly dropped to my stomach and got into position with my rifle. As they moved around feeding, the four rams quickly turned into 12 rams, and two of them were large shooters! 

In the howling wind the sheep had no clue I was there and they continued to feed. I was able to let my nerves calm as I watched the herd for about 20 minutes until the largest ram moved far enough away from the herd to get a clean shot. I got two clean shots off and the ram stumbled downhill while the rest of the herd scattered. 

We walked over and found this great 7/8-curl, broomed off ram less than 100 yards from where the shots were fired. I looked at my watch and realized I took this ram only two hours after shooting light on opening morning. It also was the first male animal that I’ve ever harvested. What an amazing ram!

Hunter finds luck after 30 years in field

Randy Cloyd

Hunter finds luck after 30 years in field

I’ve been hunting the Gunnison area for about 30 years. When I drew the tag for area S69 I could not believe my luck.
 
Maria and I spent eight weekends scouting and getting to know the area. When the hunting season opened, my life-long hunting partner, Randy Doudy, joined me for four days. But we could not find the large rams.
 
On the eleventh day of hunting, with Maria at my side, we found the large ram we had been looking for. With my old Winchester model 88 rifle, and an equally-as-old Weaver 4x scope, I was able to harvest this 11-year-old ram.
The lucky one, Randy Cloyd

40-day hunt brings home sheep, goat, and changed man

Chris Schiller

40-day hunt brings home sheep, goat, and changed man

This year I was excited, and intimidated, to draw two of Colorado’s most coveted big-game hunting tags — a second season rifle mountain goat and a rifle bighorn sheep ram for the same unit, S66.
 
After three weeks in the field (and two weeks into the hunting season), I hadn’t seen one legal ram. I spotted a nice nanny to fill my goat tag the next day; she was accessible without the assistance of rock climbing gear – about 285 yards up hill.  With a single trigger squeeze at 4:07 p.m., I stumbled back to camp with the first load of meat out just after 9 p.m. I was past my limit of exhaustion without one day of rest, questioning my sanity after being in this country for 38 days.
 
The next day, my first quick glass results came up with multiple fresh tracks in the snow across the valley.  I determined they could only be fresh sheep tracks – and those tracks lead to three rams!
 
I started glassing each rock to make sure it was really a rock.  Within a few minutes two rocks turned out to be two more bedded rams hidden in the shadows, and one had massively heavy horns. I decided to wait for a standing shot.  Within a few seconds, the ram stood.  I squeezed the trigger.
A flood of emotions raced through me as complete shock set in that I had got a ram. I knew this moment would never come again. With an official B&C score of 177 7/8, it was possibly the largest ram ever killed in that unit.
 
My 40 days in the field hunting changed me.  It was the hardest thing I had ever done, and I had survived and succeeded.

Sheep hunt patience pays off

David Stanley

Sheep hunt patience pays off

After 13 years of applying for a bighorn sheep license, I drew a tag in unit S41 in 2011. I spent most of my free time after work and on weekends scouting for sheep.
 
On opening day I had a good plan to hike up a steep snow chute to get above where I saw 15 rams the day before. After a four-hour hike and one and a half hours of laying under my poncho waiting for the rain to stop, I crawled over the rocks to take a look. There were 11 rams right below me. I ranged them at 280 to 350 yards.
 
I watched them for the next hour and waited for the closest big ram to stand up. I took my shot with my .30-06 Savage rifle that I bought when I was 14 years old – it’s 40 years old this year.  The ram went about 10 feet and dropped.
 
I made my way to him and spent some time taking photos with my camera and tripod. I called my buddy, he made it up there about three hours later and we started packing the ram down the mountain.
 
Thank you, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Society, for the opportunity to hunt bighorn sheep in the great state of Colorado.

Carmen S.: Cancer survivor harvests bear with 30-yard shot

Hedwig-Carmen Stansell

Carmen Stansell's bear

I am so excited to share my successful bear hunt in Colorado. I am 49 years old and recently became a breast cancer survivor, currently in remission.

On opening morning, my dog Zino and I set up our blind. I watched deer, fox, turkeys, hummingbirds and bighorn sheep pass by us. On the ninth day, I finally saw a bear, but it wasn't the size I was looking for. That evening I hiked up to the ridge where I could see all the openings below. I spotted a monster bear by a spring moving through the brush.

I had an immediate adrenaline rush and decided to take a 400-yard shot. I saw the bear jump to the side and run away. I hiked down to where the bear was and found out I missed.
It was haunting me that I had missed this bear and wondered if that would be my last chance.

The next morning Zino and I started hiking and we heard a sound that caused Zino to stop in his tracks and start walking back towards me, the hair on his back standing up. Then I saw a big bear about 30 yards away with his nose straight up. I dropped down and looked through my scope. His body was positioned perfectly for a good shot.
I pulled the trigger and the bear reared up and roared before falling to the ground.

Joe F.: After passing two others, hunter stumbles onto large boar

Hunter: Joe Farago

Joe Farago's black bear
I was hunting bear during the 2014 archery season in the southwest corner of the state in an area where I knew bears fed on berries and acorns — and this year was a good crop.

I saw a small 150-pound black bear feeding and passed him by. I continued to stalk with the wind still coming off the ridge in my favor. I saw a large cinnamon bear feeding in the thick scrub oak. The boar must have seen me and moved across an open area. I was ready to take the shot but decided not too. He was moving and last thing I wanted was to wound an animal. 

I continued my stalk and waited in the thick of the oaks when I heard another bear near me feeding. I stalked to within 20 yards when he moved to a small opening in the scrub oak I took the shot and connected.

I hauled the bear off the mountain myself that day. Colorado Parks and Wildlife employees estimated he was 6- to 8-year-old bear and weighed 275-300 pounds. 


Larry W.: Prep time pays off during bear hunt

Hunter: Larry Witte

Larry Witte's black bear
I was fortunate enough to draw a 2014 September bear tag for Game Management Unit 66. 

I spent months researching all things related to black bears and attended an informative bear hunting class put on by the local Colorado Parks & Wildlife office. I made numerous scouting trips to the area I'd be hunting and felt well-prepared on opening day. 

I located an abundance of fresh sign the first two days of the season but couldn't connect with a bear. The morning of day three was overcast with light rain. I found a fresh pile of bear scat in the center of a trail that must have been left just prior to me walking up to it. I went the direction I thought the bear traveled and within a few dozen yards knew I was on the bear's path. 

After stalking silently through the trees for about a half-mile, I came to a large clearing. Looking off in the distance I could see a bear standing in some tall grass. I continued to work my way toward the bear, trying to remain undetected. I closed the distance between us after only a few minutes. 

I ranged the bear at 95 yards, so I leveled my 30.06 and clicked the safety off. My bullet found its mark and the bear dropped where it stood. 

There's no way to describe the adrenaline dump I had before I took the shot or the overwhelming excitement I felt as I walked up to my bear! He was a beautiful brown and blonde color phase bear and I was proud he was mine! 

Preparation, persistence, and a bit of luck made for another great hunt in beautiful Colorado!

Photo taken in GMU 66, near Alpine Plateau on Sept. 4, 2014.

3 animals, 5 days, 13 years old

James Schulz, 13; Cincinnati, Ohio

3 animals, 5 days, 13 years old

My name is James Schulz and I’m 13 years old. I hunt whitetail deer where I live in Ohio but I was extra excited when my dad booked my first elk hunt. It was a September archery hunt with Tor Hayward of Hayward Ranch in western Colorado. I got elk, bear and mule deer tags.
 
James Schulz with bull elkOn the second evening of the hunt my dad and I sat over a water hole in a blind made of brush and trees. Near last shooting light, a big 6x6 bull stepped out of the brush at 65 yards. He stopped and looked our direction then walked to the water. I ranged him at 45 yards and released an arrow from my 60-pound Hoyt bow. He went 52 yards and dropped. Tor saw this from the hilltop and raced down to help celebrate.
 
The next evening we spotted a black bear one mile away. We raced toward it to get a shot before dark. Using a .30-378 rifle, I hit the bear at 75 yards. He ran into a thicket and dropped. He weighed 250 pounds.
 
The next morning we went for an archery mule deer. We took a 4x4, saw a shooter buck, got into position and I made a 15 yard lung shot from my knees through an opening in the brush.
 
I’ll never forget the week that I got three animals in five days!

Close encounter on the trail

Mark Taylor

Close encounter on the trail

When opening day arrived, I covered my body with Scent Away and went to my hunting spot at first light to sit behind a log. I could see up the hill really clearly from where I was sitting, and I never saw anything cross the openings.
 
After about 35 minutes, a Abert’s squirrel started barking to my left. A few minutes later, this big hog stepped out of the scrub brush   just 17 yards in front of me. I reached for my gun and, in one smooth motion, I clicked the safety off  and  shot him with a .308 round. He turned away from me and started running through the scrub brush. After going about three seconds without seeing him, he stepped out again, running up the hill about 30 yards away. I put one more round into him and he went down.
 
I saw him kick and then he let out a loud growl. There was an eerie silence in the woods after he growled, it got totally quiet and I knew it was over. I could see him laying on his side on the hill. I stood up, amazed by what had just happened and amazed at how the woods were so quiet. The moment was unreal.
 
STATISTICS
  • Shot: East of Pagosa Springs on Oct. 22, 2011
  • Length (nose to tail): 70 inches
  • Chest girth: 57 inches
  • Weight (field dressed): 475 pounds
  • Green Skull Score: 21 1/4
Photo by Matt Taylor

Lady's hard work ends with bear

Brenda Hadley, Florence

Lady's hard work ends with bear

Last year I told my husband I wanted to hunt bear. He was surprised but supportive. This year I drew a tag and started researching. I felt I was ready when September came.

In all of the years I've hunted, this was one of the most difficult. My husband acted as my guide and cameraman. We hiked approximately 70 miles in September. I would have moments of excitement and exhaustion. There were a lot of moments of frustration. 

We decided to go out one last time, the season ended the following day. After 7 miles of hiking, I was getting tired so we sat down for a break. Across the valley was a beautiful, tan bear. It was a long shot, but I had been practicing for months. With my husband beside me cheering me on, I took it.  We sat for 30 minutes and went down to find her lying in tall grass. I was so excited I started shaking. I couldn't believe after all the hard work I finally had my bear. To protect her fur, we carried her out on a tree; that was way harder than the hiking.

My excitement carried me through several sleepless nights, adrenaline flows when I think of that day. I can't thank everyone enough who supported me. This was a dream. I am having her turned into a rug so I can show her off.

That morning when I went out, I prayed to my grandfather to give me the strength to go one more day and bless the hunt. I guess he was listening.

Close encounter leads man to first bear harvest

Troy Prezbindowski, Littleton

Close encounter leads man to first bear harvest

It was the second morning of Colorado’s 2013 bear and elk muzzleloader season. I was alone, hiking up an old miner's trail.

My mind was wandering, thinking of my grandpa who passed away a few weeks earlier. I caught a glimpse of movement over my right shoulder and quickly turned to see this massive black bear boar approaching me from about 20 yards away.

I grabbed my muzzleloader off my shoulder and took a couple steps backwards. He was walking straight at me, staring a hole through me, definitely not afraid of me. With every step he took towards me I matched him by taking one backwards, trying to get a good shot.

The bear, still in his brown color phase, turned broadside to come down a 10-foot bank just above the trail I was on. Boom! The bear balled up and rolled onto the trail 15 yards in front of me, jumped up and quickly started closing the distance between us.

I ran up the 10-foot bank and got behind a large pine tree to put something solid between us. After his short burst of energy, the bear staggered passed me and I could see that I had put a great shot on him. He stumbled a few more yards, let out his death roar, and expired right in front of me.

This was my first bear and I couldn't have been happier. The only thing that could have made the experience better was to be able to share it with someone... and to have someone there to help me pack him out.

Large nanny is reward for good hunter etiquette

Morgan Dellinger

Large nanny is reward for good hunter etiquette

We scouted during the summer and photographed many mountain goats. On opening morning, we met a friend in Idaho Springs and drove towards Mount Evans.
 
When we arrived, we saw other hunters heading out in the dark already. As the sun came up, we headed to where my dad had seen mountain goats the night before. We could see two other hunters approaching the same area from another angle. Dad suggested we hang back and not pressure the other hunters or make it appear like we were trying to beat them to an opportunity of taking a goat. 
 
I agreed that we should watch the other hunters harvest their mountain goat before we attempted to take one ourselves. Hopefully the goats would settle back down and allow us an opportunity to take another one out of the same group.
 
Sure enough, the plan worked. After the other hunter had taken a goat, we moved in closer to wait for the goats to calm down.  We studied all the different goats and determined there were a couple of young billies in the herd that had horns about 8 inches in length. Dad said there was also one “monster” nanny.  We decided to take the older nanny with longer horns. I had to wait for quite a while for the nanny to get clear of the other goats and give me a shot. Finally, she presented the perfect opportunity and I made the shot, it put her down immediately. My dad leaned over, hugged me and told me how proud of me he was.
 
We would not find out just how long her horns were until we had her checked later that day at the Parks and Wildlife office in Denver. Two CPW officers checking animals commented that she was a big goat. They seemed very impressed. When they put a tape measure to her horns, I got even more excited because it didn’t stop at 10 — they measured more than 10 inches on both sides.

My 10-year-wait billy

Wayne Brainerd

My 10-year-wait billy

I had the great fortune this year of taking this goat in Unit G13 south of Lake Creek. My guide, Shane Coble from Joe Boucher's Horn Fork Guides, and I were up early, climbing the mountain out of Lake Creek by the light of our head lamps.
 
We got pinned down mid-morning around 10,500 feet by a screaming bull elk with a harem of cows up the basin. We had goats on both walls but couldn't see them well enough and needed to climb farther up. Around noon, the elk crossed to the other side and we were able to slip by and get higher where we could glass better. One goat ended up being a nanny and the other a smaller billy, so we kept looking.
 
Then Shane spotted this goat lying under some shade above us. It took a couple of hours to get into position to see that he was a big billy, and a good looking one at that – a beautiful slicked-back billy with lots of muscle, pronounced hump, evenly curved horns with good bases and a real nice beard.
 
Two hours later we had worked uphill to a position where I ranged him at 281 yards (true ballistic range) uphill across a steep ravine. I was able to get into position over a rock outcropping and waited.
 
That goat did not want to get up! More than an hour later he stood up and I knew he was the goat I wanted. He stretched, then turned around almost broadside and I squeezed the trigger.
 
Photo by Shane Coble

26 years to draw: 'Worth the wait' for her ram

Ronna Dellinger

26 years to draw: 'Worth the wait' for her ram

After 26 years of applying, I finally drew a Colorado bighorn sheep license. I prepared all summer, getting in shape along with my husband. Before opening day of the season, we hiked with a longtime friend near the summit of the mountain we would be hunting. We set up our spike camp the day before season so we would have a shorter hike opening morning. With opening morning’s arrival, we were all excited.
 
As we hiked to where we wanted to glass, I could not help but wonder what would be on the other side of the ridge. 
When we approached the glassing point, my husband looked back at us and indicated with hand signals that sheep were located.
 
After glassing them for a while, we knew there were two shooters in the band of rams. We stalked in closer and, once in position, waited for three hours in the baking sun for the rams to position themselves for a shot.  Then it happened, the ram I wanted stood and presented a shot. With that one shot, my ram fell immediately. Even though it was only a 150-yard shot, it took us nearly 20 minutes to cross the mountain to where the ram lay.
 
When I put my hands on it, emotions ran over me.  Finally, I was able to hold the golden horns of a bighorn ram.  Not just any ram -- my ram.
 
It was an experience worth waiting 26 years. For all of you other sheep hunters that have been applying for years, don’t give up.

​​