My 2011 Colorado Archery Elk Hunt

By: Robb Gottenborg

It was the last day of the hunt, so we were going to hit it hard one last time.  I wasn’t overly optimistic as 2 days earlier I had blown an opportunity at a large 5 point. Having hunted elk for twenty years, I knew that good chances like that don’t come often, especially a few days apart.

We chose to hike up the East side of the draw that morning, in the same general area we had encountered the big bugling 5 point two days earlier.  The hikes had been rough, very steep terrain, but beautiful country, great elk habitat.  We had been hiking up the mountain for the better part of an hour when we took a break in an open area.  I took the opportunity to glass the other side of the draw and wouldn’t you know it, I could see elk feeding in a park.  I thought I could see antlers, but wasn’t sure.  Sam, my guide for the week, got out his spotting scope and confirmed there were four bulls feeding.  I asked Sam what the plan was thinking going all the way down the mountain and up the other side wasn’t going to be an option, but Sam said “we’re going to go get those elk of course”.  So down the mountain we went, at half a run at times.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to have the energy to make it down and up the other side of the draw and then was there any chance those bulls could still be there when we did get there, because they were several miles away after all.

colorado archery wilderness elk huntingWell, about 2 hours later after a grueling hike, for me at least (forgot to mention Sam is 19 and runs up the mountain) we showed up at the edge of the park we thought the bulls had been feeding in.  Sam edged ahead to take a peek down the open draw.  Would you believe it, after two hours, those bulls hadn’t moved much more than 100 yards.  We snuck into some light cover above the bulls.  We watched them feed for a short time before they started to bed down in some light cover in the draw.  There was a 6 point, a 5x6, a 5 point and a 4 point.  None were monsters,  but 3 were respectable and we agreed I would take a shot if the opportunity arose.  It was early season, but there was some early rut activity starting, so Sam did a little cow talking.  One of the bulls rubbed a tree, but they did not seem too excited by the calling.  The bulls did not stay bedded for long.  One by one, they got up and started moving up the mountain, quartering to us and behind some boulders and trees that obstructed our view of them.

We assumed the bulls would stay in the bottom of the draw, so we hurried a little closer  and hoped for maybe a 30 yard shot.  Sam was slightly to my side and downhill. There was a large boulder surrounded by small pines on the other side of Sam about 12 yards from me.  I was prepared for the bulls to appear in front of me at 30 yard, in line where we had last seen them traveling, when all of a sudden a bull popped out from behind that boulder, only 7 yards away.  Sam hit the ground and whispered “Shoot”. The other bulls were right behind, but there was no time to picky.  It was shoot the first bull or get busted.  I knew the bull was legal, but wasn’t positive which one it was, didn’t matter, it was the last day and we had decided I was going to shoot if the opportunity presented.  I pulled my bow back, settled the pin, and shot without really thinking.   The arrow hit a little high I thought and all four bulls busted.  They disappeared behind cover again.

We got to a high vantage and saw a single bull cross the opening several hundred yards away and assumed that was mine.  I was a little worried about the shot.  Sam went to grab his pack and I started looking for blood.  When Sam got back a few minutes later, I reported to him that I hadn’t found a drop of blood.  We split up and followed the few possible routes the bulls could have taken between the rocks and boulders in the area. If the elk we had seen cross the clearing was mine, we could also search that general area.  I kept scouring the ground for blood, but no luck.  I was becoming frustrated when I chose a different path along some cover.  I popped out of the cover and immediately smelled the strong odor of elk and heard buzzing.  In a few steps, there he was.  The buzzing was the first flies finding him in the open park.  He had only ended up going about 70 yards.  The shot had been great, entered high on downhill angle and drove right into his chest cavity.  Since the arrow entered high and didn’t exit, all the blood had pooled in the chest cavity, but it had been a good shot and fast kill.  Turns out I had shot the 5 point, not the biggest, but I was proud none the less.

Hunting with Action Adventures was a blast and I would have said that whether I killed an elk or not.  Justin runs a great outfit with fine help and good stock. John did an excellent job cooking and keeping camp straight.  Sam was a great guide, knowledgeable about elk and a good caller.  He went the extra mile to get me my elk, Thanks Sam.  The guys at Actions Adventures were great and I would recommend them.  I will be back.