PART VI OF VI
This is part six of a six part series where I will share my journal with you. Because it is a copy of my journal, I will get intimate and emotional at times. I will mention gear, what worked and what didn’t for future reference. And I will try to capture the context of the hunt so that I can reflect on it years from now. I hope you enjoy the hunt!
It is dark by the time Scott and Chris make it back to camp after another hard fought, but unsuccessful day. They referred to that area as Sierra Vendetta. Webster defines a vendetta as a prolonged and bitter campaign. Fresh tenderloins have a way of recharging the hunter’s soul, and we are all tired of freeze-dried meals. We fire up the camp stove and start cooking meat over cast iron. Before we know it we have eaten both tender loins and a full back strap between the four of us. Success is hard earned on public land elk hunts, but it sure tastes good. The rest of the meat will be turned into burger and steaks to feed my family and friends this winter.
Daily totals: 7 miles walked, 1,500ft elevation gain and loss, one elk tag punched, 9 pounds of elk meat eaten.
Sunday Sept. 25th:
We call Rachel on the satellite phone and order our extraction. It has been eight days since any of us has seen our families, and we have two full days ahead of us to get off mountain and drive home. We were ready to kiss our wives and hug our kids. It is noon by the time Rachel comes riding into camp leading a pack string of 3 mules and 5 horses. She has traded her straw hat for a black felt with similar buckaroo crease and telescope crown. A sure sign of winter. She said it wasn’t a bad trip in; just one ornery mule got loose and another got a “lead rope wedgy”. We put out the camp fire, our first fire of the trip, load our gear evenly into the panner bags and saddle up for the ride out of camp. I got to talk to Rachael on the ride out. Her dad was an artist in upstate NY but she wasn’t interested in art until recently. She now runs a blog and an Etsy store where people can keep up with her adventures and buy some of her artwork which is quite good. Check her out at www.rbrashears.com.
The ride out is mostly quiet. Just the clanking of horseshoes and wind in the aspens to cover our light conversation. We are all soaking up the last bits of mountain before facing the hundreds of emails, texts and voicemails that are waiting for us at the trailhead. Leaving the mountains is always bittersweet. I can’t wait to see my family, but I know I will want to be back up here next week. For now it’s back to reality, but the reality is, reality isn’t so bad. I am a blessed man.
Less than 10% of hunters successfully harvest an elk with a bow in Colorado, and success rates are only 24% for rifle hunters. There are 640 million acres of public land in the US, and nearly 23 million acres of public land in Colorado alone. You are an owner of that public land and it is yours to use. There are a number of credible organizations and resources for anyone wanting to hunt public land in the western United States. I will list a few of them below. Until next September “Keep your nose in the wind, and your eyes along the skyline.”
Go get em!
Resources and Organizations for the Backcountry Hunter:
Fever Pursuit, LLC www.feverpursuit.com
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers: http://www.backcountryhunters.org
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: http://www.rmef.org/
Colorado Division of Wildlife: http://cpw.state.co.us
The Western Hunter: http://westernhunter.net
Elk 101: http://www.elk101.com
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership: http://www.trcp.org/