Well after getting caught up at work and home and having a little time this past weekend to do some easy hunting (whitetails), I have actually found some time to fill you in on the Pearson elk adventure. We left for Colorado on September 17 with thoughts of big screaming bulls in our heads. The 21 hour trip really didn’t seem all that bad until we hit Colorado…then the anticipation of getting to camp made it that much longer. But we finally arrived about noon Friday and quickly got settled in. After a quick nap we were out to get a closer look at the spectacular but rather intimidating mountains. (You see, the closest we Wisconsin boys have been to “mountains” is the Buffalo County ridges during turkey season.) We spent the afternoon driving and glassing, looking and listening and did eventually get a game plan together for the next morning.
(Days 1 & 2) The opening weekend of archery in Colorado also overlaps the end of muzzle loader season…and we quickly found out that our spot we were going to hunt was filled with blaze orange. There were at least 8 hunters in that area hunting one particular bull, so we decided to head off to another spot and give this area a rest. Once we arrived at our second location, Dan gave out a scream on his bugle and we ended up getting two responses. We set up about 100 yards a part hoping to draw one of these guys in but no such luck. After about a half an hour the timber became silent as the bulls made there way out of calling range and settled into the dark timber for the afternoon. As day one began to wind down, Dan began to feel a migraine coming on as we were making our way back to the tuck. Dan has suffered from migraines his entire life and we were concerned about what the change in elevation would do to him…we found out in a hurry. As he felt the migraine coming, he quickly took two vicodin to try and counter the pain. But by the time we got to the truck it was too late and the migraine had firmly had it’s grip on him. He was hoping that a good night sleep would take care of it so we headed back to camp for the evening. (Day 2) It was quite obvious that Dan was not going to be able to go the next morning so he stayed home and I headed out to see what I could find, but after only a couple of hours the heavens opened up and it began to rain and hail…a sign that I should head back and check on Dan. Turns out he wasn’t any better so we ended up heading into Cortez and the Emergency Room where he was treated to a shot for his migraine. The shot takes about 10 minutes to kick in and he was out like a light. It was a good thing we went in as that was the ticket and the rest of the trip was migraine and pain free and we could concentrate our efforts again on elk!
(Days 3 – 5) With all medical conditions behind us now, we could focus on the big bulls of the San Juan National Forest again. We are now back to where we wanted to hunt opening morning. We set up in a meadow to do some glassing when Dan says he heard a bugle…problem was it was about a mile away and down the mountain. Excitement kicks in as we make our way to the bull. Once we get closer (meaning where I can hear it to) we notice that there are at least three bulls in the area. So we continue towards them hoping to get the attention of at least one of them. As we reach a point on the edge of a drop off, we can hear that the bull is directly below us….about 300 yards away. The only way to get to him is almost straight down. As we make our way through the dark timber we enter a section of aspens and the woods becomes more open. The bull continues to scream as we slowly slide down to him when I notice something about 200 yards down…a cow! Our first elk of the trip. She is not moving though…the reason is the wind had switched on us and is now blowing directly down towards her. Suddenly there were 8 cows and they all were on the move…BUSTED. As they head off I was curious to see if the bull is behind them…and sure enough he was. From that distance we could easily see he was a shooter. He stopped long enough that if we had a rifle we could’ve tagged him, but of course we didn’t. We estimated him as probably either a 5×5 or 6×6 bull. Little did we know that that would be the big encounter of the trip as we never could get close enough to these bulls to coax them away from their herd. But it was worth the trip to just see that one bull. We spent the next three days hunting this particular area as we had anywhere from 3 – 5 bulls going at a time. But in the end it was the terrain and the pressure from the muzzleloaders that did us in.
All in all it was one of the best hunting trips I’ve ever been on. Dan and I have hunted together now for over 30 years and to me it ranks up there as one of the best hunts ever. After a year of planning the trip has come and gone, but the planning has just begun for a return trip in a few more years. Thanks Dan again for sharing this adventure with me and I look forward to more trips in the future.