Colorado Elk 2018
(Submitted from BlackOvis Customer Glen Gust)
It all started late December 2017 when told my wife that September 2018 was going to be the year I wanted to go on my first elk hunting trip. I shared my thoughts with an older brother Rollin that had just started archery hunting after a number of years of being off. He was on board. At the time I was 55 and my brother was 64. Also by May Carrie my wife joined forces. Shortly after I had made my decision I became a member of Elk101 and was getting into the online course. The course is so well thought out and I really enjoyed getting into all the information. I loved all the planning and research that goes into a backcountry hunt. From learning to call, to what goes into a pack ready for the back country, clothing and footwear, what state to hunt?? Wow, I could tell I hadn’t started too early. The big thing about Elk101 that really helped me was all the really pertinent information all condensed in one place. It was so accessible. Another thing that was so helpful was all the other resources that Cory was linked up with. gohunt, OnX, EXO, Rocky Mountain calls BlackOvis, MTN OPS, all of them we subscribe to or have purchased from them. From diet changes to a major change in our exercise program it was charge time. A quote that OnX had on their cover page last summer and fall became our motto, “Success favors the prepared”. We did our best to leave no stone unturned. Along the way we always seemed to be enjoying our new adventure no matter what challenges we faced along the way.
The calling came fairly easy for me, I had been using a diaphragm call for many years turkey hunting, but for my wife and brother that wasn’t the case. In August Carrie and I took a trip to Idaho and Montana to test our gear and ourselves and found that all our preparation was paying off. Our first big hike into the backcountry was in Idaho. We went 10 miles up into Devils basin and spent to night. We had a great time testing our equipment and being tested, it felt good to know everything was coming together, we were finding success even at this juncture before the hunt and for me my confidence was gaining momentum. When we got home we had a month to put the final touches on for our hunt.
At this time we knew that my brother Rollin wasn’t going to make the trip. Between work and a physical condition that surfaced he had to bow out. Carrie, Jesus and I would be the team now. As each grew closer our workouts became more intense, I remember hiking in the small hills, cause that’s what we had to work with, with 60lbs in my EXO pack, going for 3-4 miles, stopping at dead falls doing 250 pushups with my pack and loving it, cause I knew that this was what it was going to take to put success in our favor. I have to say that the EXO pack is amazing. It’s my first frame pack so I’m not going to be able to make a comparison but it was great for me, in fact we decided to get Carrie one as well.
The days were melting off the calendar until it was day to leave. Packed and ready to go we pointed the ol' Ram west, it was really surreal for me. You see when I was 14 my parents bought me a subscription to Bowhunter magazine. I would read them from cover to cover. The articles from those old timers that hunted out west, especially elk hunting, really intrigued me and I would dream about one day when it was my turn to hunt in the Rocky Mountains. I remember it was Saturday early evening and pulling into the trail head and putting my feet on the ground, I was here, 41 years later, wow!! was this an amazing experience, just being here.
We got our packs set and in the dark and rain we made our way down the trail to a spot that we only had seen on OnX and Google Earth, it was a walk of faith for us. We set up camp with our headlamps on, had a bite to eat and turned in. As I’m writing this I still get tears in my eyes, so grateful to God for giving us the ability to experience this adventure and so grateful that His abiding presence within was there to guide us in this experience every step of the way. When Jesus proclaimed that “He was the way, the truth and the life” we took Him at His word and this backcountry mountain adventure was no exception, He would be our Guide every step of the way, we had so much fun the 3 of us.
Sunday morning we heard a couple of bugles and that was all we heard for the next 5 days but we were living in the backcountry and all was good. I remember as we’re planning and preparing I asked Carrie “it's day 8 and we haven’t seen our heard anything what do we do and she said we get up on day 9 like it’s day 1 and go hunting and we keep doing that until it’s day 14 and we have to head home, always remember it only takes one”. I also want to acknowledge and old vet in the archery elk hunting game, Paul Medel the “Elknut”. Carrie picked up his app for calling and we received a lot of help from him as well. I remember Carrie would be reading his app, studying calling strategies when we would stop to take breaks, she was going to be the caller and she didn’t want to be the reason for not harvesting an elk. We payed close attention to 2 things in our research, years of experience coupled with success and humility!!
Born and Raised Outdoors was a big favorite on YouTube as well. We had been glassing a small heard with a nice 6 point on 3 different occasions. So we did 2 morning set ups in that area with no results. Up to this time we heard 0 bugles other than Sunday morning. It was now Friday afternoon and we decided to set up in the park we had been seeing the herd of elk. We set up just like Cory described in Elk101, with Carrie 40 yards above me in a pocket of timber and with me downwind in another pocket of timber with open ground that attached 2 parks, it seemed like a text book funnel as well as a setup. We had planned out hand signals for calling and we were using them in our set up and again Carrie was reading up on the Elknut app in between.
At 6:35 we heard a weak bugle to the south of us and I took a peak and seen a nice 6 point bull coming in from 200 yards out. I was ready. As he kept coming our way he stopped to get a bite to eat, and Carrie turned behind her and let out the last cow call back toward the Elk fan decoy to the side of her 20 yards. His head popped up and he started to trot toward the sound and just like we read in Elk101 he cheated towards my side to try to get the wind in his favor putting him 18 yards slightly quartering towards me. I put my 20 yard pin tight in on his shoulder and let it fly!! Impact was good and wheeled around and ran. We immediately started cow calling, he stopped, turned around to look for the cow and dropped in his tracks, 48 yards from impact!! Amazing!!!
For me in that moment it was like, what just happened. It happens so fast and then it’s over. It was a text book script. Again, as it is well said now the work begins. At 7:00pm we started cutting up the beast on the mountain. Thankfully Elk101 had covered in great detail what it was going to take to get the buttering job done and armed with our BlackOvis kill kit we finished the job at 12:30am. We left the game bags full meat to hang and cool over night and headed back for camp. The next morning we got up and packed up camp and brought it to the tail head. With 3 meat runs we had everything packed up and heading to Denver by 7:00pm. Amazing!! experience. Carrie said it was her best vacation to date. Thanks to all that helped to Mae a boys dream come true and the top shout out to our Lord for making it all possible.