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1.) Ventilator - 09/27/2013
My hunt for elk , in the Colorado backcountry, turned out to be a great experience. It was very tough physically and mentally. With the extreme elevation and the miles we were covering each day, it got tougher to stay focused as the week progressed. Meand my camera man arrived one day early to prepare for our pack in to spike camp. We met a friend of mine from California, whom I had hunted with for bear the prior year. He had hunted our area for elk previously as well. It would be our first time utilizing a spike camp in the area. Elevation was around 10,500 ft where we parked and 9160 at spike camp. We would cover 6-8 miles per day, usually varying our hunts from climbing 1000 ft early and 1000-1500 descents later in the day. The elk bugled great the first few days ,but shut down later in the week as pressure from other hunters and crazy weather affected them.
The first morning found us dogging a nice bull just above a big park in the area. He was screamin every few mins and the other bulls in the area were responding to him as well. As many as 5 were sounding off all around the mountain. We decided to close the distance as fast as possible without calling to him until we were close. I finally setup behind a blowdown at what i thought was about 50-60yds from the bull. After two more bugles, i second guessed my setup choice and decided to move closer. He was closing in faster than i expected and i ended up getting too close. I estimated him at 12 yds when he screamed an ear piercing bugle from behind a spruce tree. My camera man could see him, but i could not. I came to full draw and waited for him to step out for a close shot. Evidently he sensed something wasnt right and ended up turning around and moving straight away from us. Of course, without presenting any opportunity for a shot. At least we were off to a fast start!! On day two we dropped almost 1800 vertical ft to a creek drainage and 7-800ft back up thru the dark timber on the other side. We had heard a bull or two early and were hoping to stalk up on one of them during the heat of the day. We eventually discovered an extremely used trail coming out of the timber into the park. Several hours before dark , we setup a makeshift blind and waited them out. A couple hours later , 5 cows and a spike came out a different trail. My buddy Jeff was trying to get in position for a shot when a bunch of elk started pouring down the trail i was watching, no more than 35yds away. Jeff didnt notice this until it was a little late. They had spotted one of us evidently and spooked back up the mountain. Strike two for us!
Days 3&4 were active with elk , however nothing close enough or responsive to calls. We watched a 300 class bull doggin a big cow for over an hour across the canyon, just before dark. No way to approach him. We had heard some other bugles above camp the night of day 4 , so ,we decided to hunt up the morning of day 5. We climbed over 1000ft the first couple of hours after daylight without hearing a bugle. It was very cold that morning. We were all soaked with sweat, along with water from the tall grass and wet blowdowns we had crossed. Eventually , we arrived at a small park under the rim of the mountain. We discovered a big wallow that had lots of fresh sign and a big bull track as well. We decided it would be a good place to sit that afternoon during the heat of the day. Since it was only 1030 , we bypassed the prime ambush spot in favor of sitting in the sun 90 yds from the wallow. (Did i mention it was cold? ) Around 11am , I spotted a huge bull (probably 320 class) crossing the clearing and heading right for the wallow!! Dammit man!!!! I had an arrow nocked already and i grabbed my rangefinder. He was 91 yards and walking away. After a couple of short cow mews, he stepped out of the wallow and stood broadside, but NOT one yard closer than he had been. He walked away in the wide open with no interest in our calls at all. Strike 3, but we are not out yet!
Day 7 rolled around and we were draggin butt. The days of hiking all those miles straight up and down were finally taking their toll on my legs and lungs. It was very hard to get up in the morning , especially since the elevation was causing insomnia for all of us. And to top it off, the elk hadnt bugled in 3 days! At this point, Im sure ive lost at least 8-10lbs. I had already adjusted my belt two additional notches! LOL!! I made the decision not to get out early that morning. Jeff went on his way as usual. He is a hardcore elk hunting monster! We left camp around 11am and dropped 1800ft down to another set of wallows we had discovered a few days earlier. It was turning out to be a very hot day. With the elk not being vocal, we didnt have much to go on for locating them. We decided to gamble on that spot due to the heat. Around 3:10p , I spotted an elk calf and cow coming to the wallow at 25yds. As I was waiting for a shot at the cow to materialize, Scott whispered there was a bull coming down from above us to the right. It was a nice 5x5 and he was headed for the cow and calf. There was one shooting lane he was about to pass thru . I came to full draw and waited for him. He trotted right thru the opening and stopped just behind some cover. About a minute passed before he started to move again. As he was about to enter the second opening, all the elk suddenly scattered and ran back the direction they had came. It wasnt long before a huge black bear was running down the hill towards the elk and us. The trail he was taking was putting him on a path to be on top of us in just a matter of seconds! When he had closed the distance to less than

10 yards i picked up a stick and tried to hit him in the head! He put the brakes on and Scott drew his .45. He huffed at us a couple times and bluffed charged . But he finally got smart and left running and huffing up the mtn. We had a great hunt even tho the elk got lucky several times. LOL. Cant wait to do it again. Even tho im still tired from the hunt!!

Ill be posting lots of pics. All of the pics will be frame grabs from footage we shot during the hunt.

2.) Ventilator - 09/27/2013

3.) Ventilator - 09/27/2013

4.) Swamp Fox - 09/27/2013

What would you do again and what would you do differently? Bring with you next time? Leave home?

How'd your food and gear situation work out?

Sounds like your camp was in the right spot!

I never knew high altitude could cause insomnia, especially after all that physical effort. But after reading this, it makes sense:

5.) Ventilator - 09/27/2013
Yeah that sleeping at high altitude was a bish!@!!

My pack would have LESS gear in it thats for sure! My riverswest rain gear would stay home next time. Just too heavy. I never even used it,even when it was cold. That stuff just doesnt breathe enough to hike anywhere. THat would probably save 3-4lbs right there. No more hammock/mummy bag for me either. Im going to buy a tent and down bag. More room in a regular bag and down is lighter than synthetic. Hammocks arent very warm when it drops below 30 at night. Also, Underarmour sucks for extreme hiking. It wicks sweat off your body, then freezes you to death. Only wore cold gear one day. NOT AGAIN! Merino wool is the shiznit! I have already ordered a down vest and extra top and bottom of Merino. I wore the same merino top and bottom for 7 days. Did not stink at all that i could tell. The UA shirt was rough after one day. I wore the same scentlok savanna top and bottom every day. Not for the carbon, but for the quality. Just like the merino, the new SL material did not stink at all after 8 days straight. Also, its a very fast drying material. Gaiters were awesome. This was the most i had used them. I had a pair from Rivers West and they were great. As for food, i was actually around 1800 calories per day. I thought it was more but it was plenty. Cliff builder bars with 20g of protein are pretty awesome. Mountain is great when you are starving, but we left mtn house pies all over the woods throughout the week. :laugh: I was glad to eat a big steak late saturday night after we packed out. My pack weighed 67lbs going in. Thats just too damn much. I need to be at 55 or less on pack in. No need to be over that unless you are hauling meat.

One of the best trips ive ever had. Saw more elk than i ever saw on an outfitted hunt. Just needed a little luck and a bull would be dead. I got to do a hunt like every bowhunter dreams about and most dont get the chance. All i can say is, train your ass off and be ready for the mountain to knock you down over and over and over.
6.) Swamp Fox - 09/27/2013

You probably know this, but be careful with down for your bag material. Though light, it's not a good choice for wet conditions, and it won't be warmer than synthetics within a certain temp range. Some of the synthetics will compete on weight when you take "sleep comfort temp" into consideration (Matching a 20 degree down bag to a 30 degree synthetic that you think sleeps as warm, or warm enough, for instance----Of course this is all trial and error and keeping your ears open to what other people who know what they're talking about say, as everyone sleeps differently).

I dug up the web info below from my archives, and noticed that the first link has some practical advice on hammocks in it. I've never used a hammock and don't know much about them.

My mid-weight (temperature ) bag is a Wiggy's and I can add an outer bag to it for more extreme conditions if I want. I have no complaints, but I have not bought or researched new backpacking bags in 5 or 7 years. My Wiggy's bag purchase after a lot of research has to be 10 years ago, plus or minus. I am happy with the weight and packability.

Be warned that Wiggy's has a lot of haters, so keep that in mind as you research. They also have a lot of fans. Not sure if they qualify as fan-boys, but you get my drift. Wiggy himself is a lot like "some people we know" :wink who go on and on and into the weeds, but he tells it straight and I would read what he has to say. I have not found him to be off on his assessments.

Unfortunately, I haven't kept up with other bags well enough to say where else I would start if I were in the market for a new bag or looking for a what might be an upgrade. Wiggy's link at the bottom.




7.) crookedeye - 09/27/2013
nice pics, how did those unbrella decoys work out?? and what kind of cooking thing you used..jetboil? and last but not least what unit where you hunting in and the cordinates?????
8.) bluecat - 09/27/2013
It looked like a great trip!
9.) crookedeye - 09/28/2013
what were the absolute things that you wish you had on the trip?? besides the obvious whiskey!! seriously though what items would you want on youre next trip to make it better?

pack, food, tent...pillow.. matter of fact i order one of those "my pillows" not only cant i sleep at 10,000 feet i cant sleep at 100ft..
10.) crookedeye - 09/28/2013
i think the most important thing would be a sleeping bag light weight..why a tent? get a poncho to cover you save on weight,all you need is somthing over head to keep the frost off and rain.
11.) crookedeye - 09/28/2013
a bivy of some sort.
12.) crookedeye - 09/28/2013
i guess sleeping on the ground during a rain storm would kinda suck..without a floor.
13.) Deerminator - 09/28/2013

Ya might be able to make small shelters from what's around. Fallen tree, cave. bear den.

Rugged looking country as well.
14.) Ventilator - 09/28/2013
Yeah CE, a bivy is what u mean. I didn't like the hammock as it didn't shield the wind. It will be a tent foe sure next year. We are already planning the trip again. I may get a wiggys bag after seeing swampy post. As for whiskey, I'll be in Omaha Nov 1, we need to get a drink. Lol
15.) crookedeye - 09/28/2013
when is nov 1st?? i no me and my buddys are heading out west the first week of november. up around holdrege.. i dont think you could hang with me in the whiskey department..:grin: if not i'll meet up with you..
16.) crookedeye - 09/28/2013
nice pics again.. thats somthing i would want to do.. i'm going somewhere next year for sure.. i love getting whip by the mountains..
17.) Ventilator - 09/30/2013
Yeah buddy. U prolly right on the whiskey. I'm coming to hunt not get chit faced. Lol
18.) crookedeye - 09/30/2013
chit faced..lol..put a mountain in front of me i'll climb it. you need to post more pics..
19.) crookedeye - 09/30/2013
maybe give me a couple days of rest after i get chit faced ..then i'll climb it.. that i can do..
20.) crookedeye - 09/30/2013
we dont need anymore closeup of you...just show the country and mountains and some hunting..
21.) Ventilator - 09/30/2013
Here are a couple more.



The rest are still on my card at the house. Ill try an post a few more this week.
22.) Ventilator - 09/30/2013
The elk/bear encounter was just down below the last park you can see in the pic above. about a 1500ft or so vertical drop.
23.) Ventilator - 09/30/2013



24.) Ventilator - 09/30/2013
25.) Albertabowhunter - 10/03/2013
Looks like you had a load of fun. Would they answer to calls or quiet? How were the day time temperatures where you hunted?

And heck, I don't know if i could sleep in that either.... There are light light tents out there, expensive, but well worth it if you're going to use it. try Mountainhardwear.com
though I would suggest buying a tent via ebay, the cost are a lot lower.

Beautiful Pictures
26.) Ventilator - 10/04/2013
They sounded off great the first four days. The last 4 NOT at all! It was cold the first half of the week, all day long. Second half not so much. There was also alot of pressure on the top of rim from road hunters. We think they pushed the elk deep in the canyons, where we were going after them. I will be buying a tent before next year. :tu:
27.) crookedeye - 10/05/2013
[QUOTE=Ventilator;11287]Here are a couple more.



The rest are still on my card at the house. Ill try an post a few more this week.[/QUOTE]
how would you even get into that thing? does it come with a ladder system? let alone try and sleep in it.. seems like youre shoulders would be pressed agaisnt youre ears..
28.) crookedeye - 10/05/2013
i would have got out of that and slept on the ground...
29.) crookedeye - 10/05/2013
what if you had to get out of it and take a pee??

i dont think i like that thing either..theres alot of cords where i could trip over ..
30.) crookedeye - 10/05/2013
once you got out of it to take a leak then there would be the whole hassel again trying to get back in it...
31.) crookedeye - 10/05/2013
that thing doesnt look good on youre spine either..
32.) crookedeye - 10/05/2013
you had to be miserable in that...
33.) NEBigAl - 11/13/2013
I realize Im quite late to the party,

Whereabouts were you at? You dont have to sell your honey holes out, Im just looking for an idea (maybe you mentioned it and I missed it, sorry)

Any advice for planning a similar trip?

Also, if you need any backpacking advice, hit me up!
Hammocks are great, but you found out their Achilles with the cold, tents win out in that department. I use a Kelty Gunnison 2.2, its right around 4 lbs and works great if you just split the weight between two people. Not to mention its less than 200$, and tough as nails! Mine has held up in intense ground white out hailstorms at 14000 feet, still doesnt leak a drop.

Food, mountain house meals are great sure, but they arent terribly nutritious or calorie dense, and they are expensive!

For backpacking I use an alcohol stove like one of these

it burns cheap denatured alcohol, and boils water in minutes

Then for food I use all freezer bag meals

Freezer bag meals-
Basically you put any dehydrated foods into a ziploc plastic bag, dump boiling water in and wait 10 minutes. Wala, awesome food!

For breakfasts I make bags up with instant oatmeal, brown sugar, chocolate chips, powdered milk and maybe dried fruit. It rehydrates instantly and is so good for a long day

Lunch I just put instant noodles (I prefer asian stuff), dried seasonings, etc and then add a pouch of tuna or chicken.

Dinner, about the same thing, lots of times I get the dehydrated soups and add water and powdered milk, add instant stove stop stuffing, and a pouch of chicken or tuna, it is so good!

Hell as a lazy college student, I eat these meals half the time when Im at home!
34.) Ventilator - 11/14/2013
Hey buddy, no problem being late as i appreciate the input. I have been looking at Keltys already. I think im going with the 1.2 for next year. It does look like a great tent, and im glad to hear they are tough. I didnt know anyone that actually has one as of yet. The 1.2 was a little lighter and plenty big for one i think. The hammock sucks for cold weather ,no doubt. They are very nice for summer or just chillin in the afternoon. No more backcountry with it tho. Ill probably keep taking the rainfly with me just for additional dry shelter if i need it.

I was in NW Colorado, about halfway between Craig & Meeker. Not sure where we are going in 2014. Looking at options in New Mexico ,if i can draw a tag. There is always CO for a backup. Ill probaby do a muley hunt in Craig again, since i have a pref point now.

You been out hunting in NE yet? Dont you live in Chadron?
35.) NEBigAl - 11/14/2013
Nope I am in southern Ne! But Ive been hunting a lot...stuck the biggest buck of my life the other night and lost blood after 500 yards :(
36.) NEBigAl - 11/14/2013
Make sure you get a good sleeping pad too!
37.) NEBigAl - 11/14/2013

Here is my Kelty after a 10 minute hailstorm...this was at almost 14000', Abyss Lake Colorado (best hike I have ever been on btw). Thundered so hard I thought my ear drums were going to rupture. The hail hitting my tent was deafening, but it held up great!
38.) Ventilator - 11/14/2013
Damn, those high country storms are intense!!
39.) crookedeye - 11/17/2013
crablegs..its going to take a little more then a few oatmeal meals and some rasins to get Kenny to fork over his hot spots..:wave:
40.) Ventilator - 11/18/2013
Hey crookedeye, did you see this thread has nearly 18,000 views? Only 38 replies, im thinking spammers or everyone wants to know where the hotspots are. :wink
41.) NEBigAl - 11/18/2013
Hey Kenny, thanks for the PM telling me all your hotspots. Dont worry, I wont tell crookedeye.
42.) Ventilator - 11/18/2013
Roger that big al. :)