October/November 2013 EHJ (Issue 139) - Preparation for the next hunting season usually starts as soon as we break our current hunting camp. My son Kevin and I usually start conversing on the drive home and the end of the 2011 Colorado big game season was no exception. We brainstormed about application deadlines, unit statistics, draw odds, hunting location, preferred outfitters, etc. It sure made the drive from Colorado to our family home in Virginia much more pleasant as we filled ourselves with excitement and anticipation about next year’s hunt.
Winter gave way to spring and when April rolled around we were ready. We knew what, when and where we wanted to hunt. My son’s passion is mule deer hunting. So this year we would focus our efforts on harvesting a trophy public land mulie in Colorado. My job was simple – complete the big game applications, acquire landowner vouchers, contact DOW offices, speak with local outfitters about their services, and yes, do some preseason scouting during the summer. In other words, I was to do all the work, Kevin would show up when it was time to go hunting, harvest a buck and get all the credit. Well, I suppose that’s what dads are for. But I thought maybe I should purchase an elk tag just in case.
Now that the hot summer months had passed and the leaves were turning their autumn colors our excitement grew as we knew that hunting season was just around the corner. Kevin was going to fly from Toronto to Virginia and together we would drive 1,700 miles to Colorado. The truck was packed, final preparations were made and it was finally time to head west. What an exciting time of the year!
Upon arrival we met with a local outfitter who had agreed to pack our camp and supplies into the high country a few days before the hunt. We prefer to pack in early, which gives us time to do some scouting and let our bodies acclimate to the altitude.
The outfitter informed us there was snow where we wanted to hunt but he could take us to another location below the snow line if we wanted. Since Kevin had not seen the location that I had scouted and planned to hunt the decision was mine. Do we stick to our original plan of hunting a location that I had previously scouted and really liked? Or, do we play it safe and go to another location that we had never seen? Somehow, the decision was easy. I told the outfitter that we would stick to our original plan and pack into the high country.
The weather report didn’t look favorable. There was already a foot of snow above timberline. The season started on Saturday and the forecast was calling for more snow above 9,000 feet the following Tuesday. Camp was above 11,000 feet. If we got lots of snow, the outfitter wouldn’t be able to get back to the top of the mountain to pack us out. We could hike out, but the camp would have to stay, maybe until the thaw and that could be spring. The Rocky Mountains are unforgiving if you’re caught off guard or unprepared.
For a full account of Bill and Kevin's adventure, go to page 42 in the October/November 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.