2018 Veteran Colorado Elk Hunt
By Cody Scriver
We got to the Trophy Mountain Ranch on September 5th ready to hunt. My wife Fawm and son Tucker had come with and all of us were ready to get out of the truck. We had driven over 3,000 miles in a cramped truck with a 3 year old and I think they were starting to rethink their decision to come with me.
It was a long drive but the only thing I was thinking about the hunt. I had wanted to go elk hunting since I was about
12 but had never been able to get out. It seemed like a
tease when I had gotten word that the Northwest Chapter wanted to put me in for a veteran’s elk hunt but I was in disbelief when I got a call saying I was selected for it. I had been counting down the days for the hunt since we set the date with Monte in Las Vegas and I was ready to go.
While we were in Las Vegas I had met Colorado Buck and got to talk to him for a few minutes at the veteran’s breakfast. He asked if I would mind if he could send someone out to film the hunt. I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to believe me when I said I was going on a guided Colorado elk hunt so having it filmed might be a good idea.
Fast forward a few months again and back to Colorado. We pulled up to the guest cabin to meet the guides and see the cabin. As ready as I was to change over and get out I did get a little caught up as they showed me around the “cabin”. What they described as a cabin was a four bedroom, two story house with about everything you could need from a pool table to a full bar.
After the tour we decided we would go out in about an hour to see if we could spot anything moving around even though it was the middle of the day. Fifteen minutes later I was changed over and already sending arrows into the foam targets he had set up. I made sure my bow was dialed in and was ready head out.
They had two side by sides to show us the ranch so Fawm and Tucker came with us as we toured part of the ranch and started looking for. It didn’t take long before we started seeing elk and my blood got pumping. We spent a few hours spotting elk and getting an idea of what was out there. I saw more elk in a few hours than I expected to see the entire time.
We called it a day and went back to the cabin for dinner. Dinner was more than we could eat, followed up by a couple drinks and hunting stories. We headed to our room and I felt like I blinked and it was time to get up again. We had a quick breakfast and headed out the second morning to start hunting.
About the time I realized he wasn’t the bull we were looking for, a chipmunk made us as started chipping his disapproval of us being there. It was enough for the bull to look up and see us frozen in front of him. He jumped and started trotting off but slowed as if he was going to stop. In the end he kept going and even if the monster bull we had seen before was following, he was gone now. It was a long walk back but it was early in the day and I was confident that there would be more.
An hour or so after we were busted on the first bull we caught site of three or four bulls bedded down in a group of trees. The trees were surrounded by a couple hundred yards of open field and it was going to be hard to sneak up on
We saw a great bull from above almost first thing in the morning. He was by a lake but heading for a thick patch of willows so we worked our way around to the other side a few hundred yards away. The willows were a few hundred yards thick before they opened up into more mature trees and hills on three sides.We hoped we could work our way into the willows and catch him as he tried to cross to the other side
and into the hills above.
We hoped we could work our way into the willows and catch him as he tried to cross to the other side and into the hills above.
I could feel the adrenaline when I knocked my arrow and started down the narrow trail that led into the willows behind my guide. The trail would open up then get thick again so Ray had me step in front of him in case we jumped the elk earlier than we had anticipated and I had to shoot from just a few yards. I could only see five or ten yards ahead at any time as we moved down the trail until I came around a twist in the trail and there was a ten by thirty yard opening.
I heard him before I could see him walking in the brush to the left. The three of us froze in unison and I got ready to draw as the steps and sound of breaking branches got closer. I saw the movement as he came out of the brush; he was grazing and hadn’t seen us yet. We were looking to see if he was the same bull as he worked his way around until he was facing us. He was a big bull but not the one we had seen earlier and I was going to pass on the shot.
them from where we were. We found a mound of dirt someone had dumped and put it between us and the elk so we could work our way up to take a closer look.
The mound was still 60-70 yards from the bedded bulls so Ray gave a bugle to see if that would be enough to get them up and maybe working their way towards us. A few seconds after there was an answering bugle, not from the bulls we were watching, but from the other side of the mound we were hiding behind. Ray gave a soft cow call and it was enough to get that bull moving towards our side of the mound.
I could hear his hooves hitting the rocks just on the other side but couldn’t tell if he was a spike or a monster so I worked my way into a shooting position just in case. When he came around he would only be a few yards away and I wouldn’t have long to shoot if he was the one I was after before he spotted me. I heard every step as he worked his way around. What started as quick eager steps had slowed and sounded more cautious.
I took a breath to calm down and got ready to shoot. The steps got closer and closer until he finally came into sight maybe five yards away. You notice just how big elk are when you’re on a knee with nothing but a bow and almost underneath them. Even though he was huge he still wasn’t THE elk, I had to hold back. He stopped 10 yards away broadside just to make sure I had the willpower I thought I had. He was a good bull and it was everything I could do to stop myself from drawing back and taking that shot. I remembered the 400”+ elk I had seen the day before and didn’t draw.It was getting late and the sun was heating up. We had seen quite a few elk but everything was bedding down and everything was getting harder to find. We were almost resigned to going in for lunch and hanging out until it started cooling down
but figured we would check one more spot on the way back. We crest a ridge and caught site of an elk below in a creek bed.
He was a couple hundred yards away and we couldn’t see how big he was so we started working our way down to get a closer look. We were about 100 yards from the elk, keeping some brush between us and the elk, when we caught a movement to our right. There were 3 more
bull elk 60 yards away. While we had cover from the one below, we were wide open to those three. Again we froze and waited to see if they would run. About the same time another elk came into view by the first elk we had seen. We had five elk looking at us at the same time.
Thankfully they didn’t spook after a long few seconds the three to our right started walking down to the creek away from us. One of them was huge and looked great but the other one at the bottom of the creek had come out and what I thought was an average bull was actually massive too. I was 100 yards away from not one but two 400”+ elk. I didn’t know which direction to shoot and couldn’t move anyways. I decided on the one below by the creek. He was a monster and heavy all the way to the tips of his antlers.
The three elk that had busted us to the right walked behind a small patch of brush and for a few seconds none of them could see us. We started working our way down the hill as quickly and quietly as possible trying to get a shot on the bull below. The other elk were working their way up the other side of the creek and we took a few paces at a time when they were all three looking away.
Finally we had gotten as close as we could to the bull below. He was on to us and starting to get antsy. He was looking our way then at the three that were leaving, it looked like he was going to follow them. My guide asked how far I could shoot and he asked how far I could shoot. I replied “50 yards”, wondering how confident I was with that answer. Guide “good, he’s at 52 yards. Take the shot when you’re ready.”
I drew back my bow, he was angled away and I tried to picture where his lungs were at this angle. I expected my hands to shake a little but as I settled on the elk my 40 and 50 pins seemed to become one. I made myself relax and focused my mind for the shot, once the 50 pin settled an inch or two above where I wanted the arrow to hit I let it fly. I had red knocks on my arrow and watched it fly up and then down into the exact spot I was aiming for. I honestly don’t know if the shot was from practice or if I just got really lucky. I didn’t care because I could see blood coming out well from where the arrow hit.
He didn’t want to go down. You could see that he was hurt but that didn’t mean he couldn’t run if he really wanted to. After a few minutes he began to walk up the creek a few steps at a time. His head was swaying, but I was wondering if I had shot a little too far back. He looked like he was going to go down but we lost sight of him. After about five minutes we started working our way down into the creek and the willows to see if we could see where he was going.
Fifteen yards into the willows we saw him bedded down to our left, he was going to die but I put one more arrow into him. Partly to minimize how long it was going to take for him to expire but also because I was still worried in the back of my mind that he would get up and run away, never to be seen again.
The second arrow did it and a few minutes later it was done. We found him again and started walking up to him. He was massive, it was hard to tell how big his antlers were because how big his body was but as we got closer he just kept getting bigger. We made sure he was down and I could take my first breath in about 10 minutes. We had done it. He was down.
Everyone who had come out with us was walking down the hill toward us. While I was working my way down they had worked their way and had a vantage point to see the entire stalk and even the shot. I was ecstatic to get the chance for the hunt but having my family there made the hunt made everything better. They not only got to go on the hunt but had been able to see everything. We took pictures and I got a chance to let everything sink in. My wife and son saw her first elk and it was an amazing experience.
After the fun part was over we started to try to figure out how we were going to get him back to camp. Monte had a side by side that was set up to lift and carry an elk but I had managed to shoot him on the wrong side of the creek.
I thought I fully understood how big he was but you don’t quite get a feeling for how big an animal is until it took every one of us and a winch to even move him. It took the better part of an hour to get him across the creek and into a
position for the side by side to be able to pick him up and we were all about beat.
It still took a few hours for the smile to leave my face. We brought the elk back to camp, dressed him and drove him straight to the butcher to take care of the meat. Everything had to be processed and deboned before we left Colorado and SCI had set everything up down to the butcher
We had some downtime before the elk would be butchered so Monte got us set up with some poles and down to the lake. He said he had some pretty good trout so we took some time to make sure. Tucker loved fishing poles and reels but he had never had a fish on the other end.
When I caught my fist fish he went from excited to get to help reel it in to panic when he realized there was something on the other end of this line. After a short spell of terror he started getting into it and helped me land his very first trout too.
The days went by too fast and when it was time to leave it was hard to go. Partially because of how much meat and stuff there was and how small my truck seemed but also because it was such a fun time. The ride home took about 2 hours longer than we had planned because I couldn’t fit the antlers into the bed of the truck so they had to ride on top. It looked a little like something out of Mad Max but we made it work. Every time we stopped our truck we had a crowd around it by the time I finished pumping gas and I got to relive the story every time I told someone new.
What started out as finally getting a chance to hunt an elk turned into the hunt of a lifetime and I got to share it with my family. There would have
been no way I would have been able to set something like this up without SCI and everyone who made it happen. There were so many people pulling to bring everything together and I can’t thank them enough. I really appreciate Monte for the hunt, Ray for guiding me, Colorado for having the idea to film it, Z for running the camera and everyone at SCI National who helped along the way.