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Colorado high country

Being addicted to the challenge that bow hunting offers, there was something about the added challenge and simplicity of hunting with traditional equipment that always had me debating on switching. It was November of 2008 and I had just sold my Mathews Switchback that I just used to harvest one of my best mule deer bucks to date that fall. I purchased a Fred Bear Super Kodiak and started shooting, soon after, I purchased a Hoyt recurve that I could take down and pack into the high country.

Recurve: stick and string

A crafted piece of wood and string. Once proficient with my weapon of choice, it was time to find a unit to hunt that would allow me to hunt “my style” of hunting. It had to be alpine, well above timberline and allow me to spot-and-stalk within range of recurve.

30 yard recurve practice
Not a bad group for thirty yards with a recurve.

Paper map and computer scouting
Nothing beats a good paper map combined with computer imaging to see what an area is like. With the unit successfully drawn, it was time to put boot tracks on it. With the Colorado unit being nine hours from my home in Southern Utah, I would have one scouting trip.

Packs loaded at the trailhead

Packs loaded up for six days worth of scouting.

Ready to hit the high country
That’s me ready to hit the high country. Within the unit I selected five or six basins that I could hunt from one trailhead allowing me to stay mobile if I blew the deer out of one basin.

Checking out the map
Checking notes that I had made on the map.

Camp with views
One of the camps that allowed us to glass three different basins.

Mountain scenery
One of the gorgeous basins that held game.

Potential hunting basin
Locating game in all five of the basins was making the trip worth the extra weight of the pack. The scenery that you walk through in this part of the world was an added bonus. I feel very fortunate that hunting has taken me to some of the greatest places on earth.

Over the counter bull elk
Some bulls we found, this is an over-the-counter unit for elk.

Mid-350s bull elk
One of the better bulls I have seen in Colorado, should have went in the 340-360s.

Mid-180's mule deer
Hard to see, but it’s a buck in the mid 180s. He was on the hit list.

View from the tent
View from the tent door on one of the nights. With the hunt opening in two days, my goal set for a 160” or bigger buck and my pack full of supplies for nine days, it was time to get to the basin that I chose to start hunting the opener.

Hiking back in for opening day
Just had to go up over the saddle in the horizon. About seven miles from the trailhead.

Nine days worth of hunting gear
Everything you need for nine days, all loaded up.

Campsite
The campsite we had chose. It would allow us to hunt four different basins that we had found bucks in. Locating deer can be difficult, but harder than that is putting a stalk on at 13,000 feet.

Glassing from camp

Glassing from camp, trying to plan a stalk.

A couple bucks spotted
A couple of bucks we located from camp.

Soaking up the scenery
Taking a break and soaking up the scenery after getting back to the pack after a stalk.
 
After 9 days in some of the most rugged, but beautiful country it had to end. I was headed home, empty handed, but full of accomplishment. I had chosen to bow hunt mule deer, above timberline, with a recurve and wouldn’t have it any other way. During the long walk out I could not help but think of a quote from Fred Bear. “If you consider an unsuccessful hunt to be a waste of time, then the true meaning of the chase eludes you altogether.”

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