Thursday, September 29, 2011

Colorado And Back

Well, this past weekend Mike and I just returned from our Colorado trip. Mike was going to hunt elk, I was going to film. I have to say I was pretty excited about it, except for the 26 hour drive.

Guess what??? The drive wasn't quite as bad as I thought it was going to be...on the drive there I drank too much energy drink and COULDN'T sleep, so I didn't have to worry about falling asleep while driving. Or falling asleep while not driving for that matter. I guess I learned my lesson; I will never drink energy drinks in that quantity again. I guess I'm a lightweight. 

We made pretty good time on the drive up there, checked into our hotel room, and met up with our guide to make plans for the next few days.

Before I get any farther I just have to say: hotel = showers every day!!!! More than one shower per day even. Before leaving for our Colorado trip, I got some new scent free shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and body wash. I usually don't go out of my way to promote stuff unless I'm either getting paid, or really really love it...and I really really loved this scent free stuff. It's called Just For Does, and I'm pretty sure it's the best thing invented ever. Instead of having messy hair every day, and dry skin that made me feel like I had alligator hide, I had smooth hair and my skin was normal. I would recommend these scent free products to anyone. 

Back to the hunt; every single day we saw elk. The first few mornings we came so close to killing an elk that we could practically taste it. Several of the bulls continued to be the strong silent type, and would sneak in on us unannounced without even bugling. Others would come within 25 yards, but continue to stay behind a tree/bush/shrub etc. so Mike wouldn't be able to take a shot with his bow. If we had been rifle hunting we could have taken a good bull every day.

At the beginning of our trip, Mike's plan was to hold out for a 300+ bull elk. We had arrived Sunday afternoon and started hunting Monday Thursday and still no elk down, we were getting a little discouraged since we were planning on leaving Saturday.  Our guide was awesome, and an amazing caller, and was really doing his very best to get us an elk...but things just weren't going well.

I had blisters on my feet from my new boots, Mike and I were allergic to the sage brush, and we were both getting sick. 

We spent Thursday night watching a 5x6 bull elk on the side of the mountain, following his girlfriend around. He would respond to Kim's (our guide) cow calls, but by the time he started making his way up the side of the mountain, it was getting too dark to shoot. 

Friday morning was another close call; by Friday afternoon Mike was willing to settle for a small bull, or even a cow since he had a cow tag and we really wanted to at least bring some meat home. Friday evening we were covered up in elk--and cows. BUT they were beef cows, not elk cows.  I don't think the farmers would have taken too kindly if Mike arrowed a beef cow to take home. 

Right around the time it was starting to get dark, we got ambushed by some small bulls crossing down one mountain and going up the next one. Kim, Mike and I dropped down into a ditch. I ended up not being able to film because the ditch was too deep; Mike took a shot at the 4x4 but it was an uphill shot, and didn't have time to use a rangefinder so he ended up missing. It was a long walk back up that mountain, I'll tell you that much. Mike was a bit depressed; Saturday was our last day, and who knew if we would get another chance???

Saturday morning we had bulls bugling right off the bat. We were only a few hundred yards from the truck when we had two bulls coming in with cows. This is it, I thought. Last day, last morning, we'll get Mike his elk. 

It didn't quite work out that way. The bulls came in to about 100 yards from Mike and Kim. I  stayed back with the camera so I could watch the whole thing; the bulls went right past Mike and Kim, and they were gone forever. So much for that plan.  I kind of felt like going back to the hotel and going to sleep. Maybe I should have stayed in the hotel. I was feeling a little sick and my blisters were bleeding again.

Once again we started off across the mountains, heading to the "lookout", a spot on the top of a mountain where we always seemed to hear lots of bulls, and had almost killed one Tuesday morning. We heard some bulls bugling before we even got there, but really I wasn't all that hopeful. We got to the top of the hill and I sat down on a log to rest my feet while Kim and Mike glassed and called.

After a few minutes they decided to hike up the mountain even farther. My feet were pretty sore so Mike told me to stay behind...and now that the hunt is over, I'm sorry I did stay behind. 

I sat on the mountain for about an hour, leaning against a log, taking pictures, looking for rocks in the dirt. I was starting to get bored. I heard an elk bugling down below me, but couldn't hear Kim and Mike, or any other elk. I figured they would come back soon enough and we would head back to the hotel and head home. What a disappointment this was with no elk.

It wasn't long before I heard the guys coming back so I picked up the camera and my backpack and mentally prepared myself for the painful walk back down the mountain. But to my surprise, Kim came walking down the mountain elk calls...

Ummm....where was Mike???

"Where's Mike???"

"Back there, we got an elk down."

Wow, he seemed nonchalant about it. "For real???"

"Yup, a 5x6."

Oh goody. My life was complete. Except...I hadn't got it on film!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nooo!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, oh well. I guess it wasn't totally my least that what I keep telling myself.

I followed Kim up the mountain to where Mike was waiting for us. There was buckets of blood where he had shot the elk, only 5 yards from the tree he had been standing behind. The elk itself had only gone about 40 yards back down the mountain (of course he ran downhill). 

I was more than a little happy to see the elk laying there in the brush with blood all around it, and even more happy to see the smile on Mike's face. His luck had finally changed this year, the Crave had taken its first elk!!!

It took us 12 hours (well, it took the guys 12 hours since I wasn't strong enough to lift a bag or quarter of the meat...I felt so lazy!!!) to pack the meat down the mountain.

Tonight we had our first taste of elk meat, and it was pretty yummy. We have a full freezer, lots of pictures, and even more good memories. I can't wait until it's my turn to take an elk :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What I Miss Most About New Jersey

I'm finally starting to miss some things about New certainly took longer than I thought it would!!! But I'm more than happy here in Ohio, and have been busy with Mike and the kids and hunting and just getting the house done.

The first thing I missed was my dog Chloe...

And then of course I miss my sister Sarah...

And my best friend Alli...

And all our crazy girl talk.
And my dog Chloe.

And of course my family.
And although I'm certainly getting used to the roads/towns here, I miss knowing that I'm not going to get lost!!!

And mostly...

I miss my dog!!!

She's just so cute, who couldn't love her???

Friday, September 2, 2011

Utah: You Win Some, You Lose Some

I've been home for a week and have finally had a chance to sit down and try to write a blog about Utah...

We returned empty handed (tag soup anyone?) but we did have a lot of fun while we were there! And the scenery was gorgeous.

Before we left on our trip to Utah, Mike had informed me that we were going to be sleeping in tents...I'd never slept in a tent before. Guess what??? It wasn't even that bad. We had camp cots and sleeping bags so it was almost like sleeping in my own bed...except that Mike was in his own cot, far away, four feet from mine. So when I got cold I had no one to cuddle up to or steal all of the blankets from.

I had never hunted Mule deer before either, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. The first few days Mike and I were set up in a ground blind, me filming and him with his Ross. (Mike's dad was with us as well, but he hunted out of another blind.)

We didn't have much luck the first few days, no deer came to the water hole we were sitting over. Then, we discovered cougar tracks and moved to another spot since (obviously) mule deer aren't going to want to hang around where cougars have been.

Day three and still no luck we decided to do some spot and stalk and had much better luck. We saw lots of deer, but either 1. they were does, fawns, or small bucks, or 2. they were too far away, or 3. they were in a park where we weren't allowed to shoot them.

We did have the good fortune to drive up near a herd of pronghorn bedded down under some trees (the first pronghorn I have ever seen in the wild) and also got to see some elk bugling, which was pretty amazing!!!

The next few days (we were there a week) we alternated between water holes and the mountains, but our luck stayed the same and the bucks we wanted to shoot continued to stay smart and out of range of Mike's Ross bow. It was also brutally hot, unusually hot for Utah, which meant that the deer weren't watering like they usually were.

There was another first for me on our trip: for the first time ever, I didn't shower in three days. Since we were staying in a tent, there was obviously no showers or any other facilities. And I have to say, not showering was probably the hardest part of the whole trip. Not the oven-like heat of the ground blind, or walking up/down mountains, or getting soaked by rain so my pants got stretched out and for the rest of the trip I had to hold them up with my hand so they wouldn't end up around my ankles; sleeping alone on my cot in the tent was fine, and the food we had was amazing. None of that was worth complaining about, it was just part of the hunt. Nope, not showering was the only thing I didn't enjoy on the whole trip.

My hair felt dirty and I could practically feel the layer of dirt and sweat on my skin. I know that sounds really girly, but hey I'm a girl!!! And as much as I love/adore/obsess about hunting...I really do love to shower ever day.

Luckily there was a truck stop not far from our camp so every few days we would drive down and take a beautiful wonderful shower and I would feel (mostly) clean again.

Despite not getting any deer or elk, it was an awesome trip. You win some, you lose some. That's why it's called hunting!!!

And I got to wear facepaint :) and have a valid excuse for looking ridiculous

Got pictures of this hawk while on one of our drives through the mountains

We stopped at a scenic overlook to get some great pictures of the canyons

There were always tons of mourning doves at the watering holes

This chipmunk was posing for me at the overlook

Evening on the mountain

Sunset near Vegas