Gubernatorial Freedom

By Charlie Loan
Colorado, DIY, Public Land

Charlie Loan - Gubernatorial FreedomOctober/November 2013 EHJ (Issue 139) - Last year I won a Colorado Governor’s elk license in a charity auction. This phenomenal license allows you to hunt in any area, with any weapon, in any season you want. You can even hunt between seasons in an area once any season has started there. My tag was valid from 8/25 – 12/31.

It all started when Suzanne O’Neill, Director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation called me in July to let me know I had won the license in their drawing. She called as I was on my way home from an interview that had not gone very well. That was by far the best $25 I ever spent and my day started looking up.

I started hunting on the 14th of September in the Dinosaur Park area. I was using my beloved .340 Weatherby and hunting during the late archery season, thinking that the rut would start anytime. It didn’t, but hunting was good just the same.

My friend, Alan Katchur, and I hunted together for a few days following Wanda Walker’s funeral in Craig, Colorado. Wanda was a really sweet and wise old rancher lady that was pure joy. Alan and I stayed with her when we scouted for this hunt in August.

Some 300 or so people came to her funeral from all over the country. She died in a horse accident gathering up cattle on her favorite part of the ranch. She was 87 and still doing what she loved. I can’t think of a better way to go. I hope to be hunting or hiking when my time comes. Merlin, a neighboring rancher I met at the funeral, gave me permission to hunt his land and actually took Alan and I out and showed us around Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

In the next two weeks of hunting I couldn’t believe all the truly gorgeous bulls I passed up. I saw dozens of bulls over 300 inches and 16 different bulls around 340 but I had my sights set on something a little bigger. Prior to scouting and hunting, I watched nearly 100 videos, looked at dozens of pictures and went to several taxidermy shops in order to learn how to field judge bull elk. I had gotten pretty good at it and my estimates were usually within 5-10 inches.

With such a dry year and temps in the low to mid 80’s, the bulls, although bugling some, were not in rut. The morning of the 25th, we drove up an old ranch road in the early morning hours to a mountain on Merlin’s property that had an active spring.

As we bumped along up the mountain road we drove through a two-year-old burn. I saw an elk to our right and asked Alan to stop the truck. He shut the motor off and I got out but couldn’t find the elk. I asked Alan to try calling. A bull immediately answered off to our right, then another to our left, and after a few more calls, a third one fired up out in front of us.

I moved out into the burn to a small rise so I could get a look in the direction of the first elk we saw. After a half-hour of talking back and fourth but no bulls committing, Alan joined me on the hill and we decided to go after the bull on the piney ridge. As we moved up through the burn Alan spotted a bull and I pulled up my binoculars. All I could see was his left side, but he had the makings of a trophy animal.

Charlie Loan - Gubernatorial Freedom

For a full account of Charlie's adventure, go to page 54 in the October/November 2013 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.