Sunday, September 28, 2008

Colorado Adventure Day 8 & 9

Day 8 was pack up and head home day for us. I wasn’t in a good mood since I didn’t find my deer the night before. We did make one more pass on the opposite side of the creek to see if we could pick up the trail that morning, but we didn’t have any luck finding here. I hate leaving game in the field!
We got Kevin’s deer skinned and quartered up for the trip home. Then came the worst part of the trip. We had to leave. As we headed out I thought to myself, I will be coming back again soon. We made our way up into Wyoming to head back to I-80 to head east.

Near The Wyoming Colorado Boarder

We arrived at a crossroads and couldn’t decide which way to go. The GPS said to go through the mountains for a shorter distance, but it would be quicker to head north even though it was a longer route, there were no mountains to cross. So we decided on the only proper way to decide which way to go, we flipped a coin. Heads we headed north, tails we headed east through the mountains. The flip was tails, so we headed into the mountains and boy am I glad we did!
As we headed up to over 10,000 feet, we stopped on the Continental Divide.

The Continental Divide Looking West

It was an awesome place to be. I crawled up on the rocks at the roadside stop and placed a phone call to my family to let them know I was on top of the U.S.!
We then made our way onward and upward. We came around a bend in the road and saw a mountain that was absolutely gorgeous!

St. Marie Lake In Wyoming's Medicine Bow National Forest

It was St. Marie Lake at the bottom of the mountain and what a view. If you ever go through Wyoming and pass through Medicine Bow National Forest, you must stop here for the view. After about a half hour of photo taking we went on our way.

Another View Of The Mountain Overlooking St. Marie Lake

As we headed down out of the mountains we hit the high plains and saw hundreds of antelope in the fields along side the roads. It was awesome to see so many animals. Lastly on our way back home we had to stop back at the Sidney Nebraska Cabela’s store again to pick up some goodies for the kids. After a long 26 hour drive we arrived home. It was a trip that I will gladly take again anytime. As a matter of fact we are already planning our return trip for next year!

Colorado Adventure Day 7

Day 7 of the Colorado trip started off with high expectations. The skies were clear and the moon bright this morning, although it was cold. This should have got the deer moving after yesterdays storms. Kevin joined me down in the valley and set up about 250 yards from the stand I was in. Hopefully we would see some deer this morning. Around 7:40am the coyotes cut loose again, they sounded like they were closer this morning than they were yesterday.
The minutes passed and turned into hours. I new that this morning was going to be a bust, nothing was moving except birds. I glassed the mountain sides to see if there was any movement, the only thing I saw was muddy trials and sage brush. At about 10:00am I noticed some movement off in the distance, but I knew that Kevin was going to be coming that way at that time. It was him heading in to pick me up to head back to camp. We crossed the creek and made our way back to camp.
We decided to make the most of the day since it was going to be our last full day here. We packed up the quads, camera, and our bows then we took off towards the summit blind.

View From The Summit Blind

We figured we would at least take some pictures and video from the summit blind and maybe, just maybe we would see a deer in the distance we could put a stalk on. When we got to the river we had to cross it with the quads, it was there we took some photos and video. Then we headed up to the blind. As we approached the blind I noticed a doe mule deer cross in front of us, finally we saw a deer! After a few photos and some video we headed back down to camp to eat lunch then it is to the creek for some fly fishing.

My Trout

We spent about an hour trying to catch some trout out of the stream. After no luck at the stream we tried the pond and had some success. We each caught one trout a piece on my fly rod. We then hurried back to the cabin to clean them and get ready to head into the woods.

Kevin's Trout

We got into the woods around 5:00pm, Kevin set up in the same place as the morning hunt and I headed back to the stand. At 5:30pm I saw a doe come in from the right just under my stand. I watched and waited for the deer to offer a shot. It made it to about 25 yards out and quartering away. I knew that this was the shot to take so I drew back and took my time placing the shot. I snapped the release and the arrow flew right into her left side. She kicked and ran off. I just knew that I had placed a good shot. I watched her run out of site and sit down for a while to rethink the shot. After about a half hour I got down and went looking for the arrow. I found it and when I looked at it my heart sank! Just a little bit of blood and hair. I am now thinking I made a bad shot. So I went back into the stand and replayed the shot in my mind over and over again. I kept seeing the arrow hit my mark, but I couldn’t be sure she was lying out there somewhere. I had to wait until dark to go look so I wouldn’t disturb Kevin’s hunt. It wasn’t long until I heard what sounded like a bow shot from his direction. I later find out that it was him who shot. He took a nice doe from about 36 yards away and it ran about 100 yards. I wish I could say that. We got a game plan together to go looking for my deer. We came back and got the quads and crossed the creek to start looking. It was so dark it was hard to see. I grabbed a new tool that I was given to field test this year. It’s called Illumitacks from Elusive Wildlife Technologies. They are flashing led lights that you can tack on a tree. We needed to be able to see our way back to the creek to cross and it was almost impossible to find it without them. I placed it on a tree near the brush that covered the crossing on the creek. We could see the light from over 200 yards in the dark! We then went to where Kevin’s deer was at so we could start the search for mine. I placed an Illumitack on my quad so we could find our way back to it in the dark also. Remember we are in the mountains in Colorado and didn’t know our way around too well.
Next I broke out another tool that I was given to field test. It is called Blue Star, it is a blood finding agent. You spray it on the ground and it illuminates blood no matter how small. We went to the spot where I shot the deer and started spraying the ground. Now remember it is dark out and you are not supposed to use any light source when using it. The ground turned florescent blue, it was amazing how well this worked. We began the tracking process finding blood along the way. I had blood on two sides so I knew that it was a pass through shot. We wound up tracking it up the mountain and back down again into a thicket, then to the creek and across it. That is where I lost the trail. We also had run out of spray to see if we could pick it up again. I hate like heck to hit a deer and not find it. I don’t know if it died or not, but I will try to do a broad search tomorrow morning before we head back home. That is why everyone needs to practice, practice, practice. I haven’t shot from an elevated stand on a regular basis this year and I think that is why I missed that buck earlier this week and possibly lost this doe this evening.
If nothing else at least Kevin got his first animal with a bow, that is pretty awesome to be a part of that.

Kevin's First Archery Harvest

Now that my hunting is over for this trip I have to say that despite my not getting a deer I had an awesome time. I will just have to take some time and reflect back on what an awesome week it really has been. I just have to get the sour taste out of my mouth for screwing up my two great opportunities.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Colorado Adventure Day 6

Day six was somewhat disappointing, it was cold and overcast for the morning hunt. We got up and around as usual, then I headed out for my stand. Kevin headed for the stand on the hill, which is lower than the one he hunted the previous night.
I was heading to my spot on the ATV when I saw a deer in the headlights. It was a small doe standing in the two track, she didn’t seemed to be too startled and just wandered off out of my way. I got to the parking spot and headed for the creek. It was somewhat of a tough go this morning since the moon didn’t give off much light with all the clouds hanging in the air. I managed to make it across and head to the blind. I got set up and began the long wait to see deer. Around 7am I heard a pack of coyotes sound off. They were pretty loud and it seemed as if they were near where Kevin was set up. Then again around 8am I heard them again, but this time they seemed as if they were behind me somewhat. It was either another pack or the same pack had moved.
I waited until around 9am before heading back to camp. There was absolutely nothing moving this morning. It was cold and windy so I decided to head back in. As I approached the cabin, I noticed an eagle sitting in a dead tree next to the creek. I thought I might get to the cabin and break out the video camera to take some video of him, but he flew off just as I got to the cabin. So much for that! Kevin is still out in the field so hopefully he is seeing some movement this morning.
I watched the weather report for the next two days and it doesn’t look good. It looks as if rain is moving in, hopefully it will move through quickly or not at all. I guess we will have to wait and see.
Kevin just made it back in and once again saw nothing. I was hoping that he was seeing something since he came back in late. We got some lunch and took it easy for the afternoon.

Storm Moving In

Later on it was looking cloudy off in the distance and we decided to take another ATV ride down the road the opposite way as yesterday. After about a half hour ride it was looking really dark in the distance and there was lightning off in the distance, so we turned and headed back to camp. Within 5 minutes of getting back it began to pour out, then it began to hail and blow! Man am I glad we came back when we did.

Rain & Hail Storm

After about 20 minutes it quite hailing and the rain stopped a while later. We took the quads down to the creek to feed the fish and check to see how much the water had risen since both of us had to cross the creek to get to our hunting spots. The water level was up already a couple of inches and the wether looked to be getting bad again. We decided to hang it up for the day and stay at camp. There was too much rain, lightning, and rising water levels. We will try to hit it again in the morning.

Colorado Adventure Day 5

Day five of our great Colorado adventure started out like the day before, getting up early and hitting the field before daylight. This morning was a little easier to get across the creek than before. I was starting to figure out how to cross in the dark. Although it wasn’t too dark, the moon was full and high, so you could see pretty well.
I slipped into the stand and got set up. I watched another beautiful sunrise on the mountain, there is something to be said about watching the dawn of a new day while in the field especially in Colorado!

Colorado Sunrise!

Later that morning I watched two deer come down off the mountain. It is really cool to glass the side of the mountain and watch the deer make their way down the steep slope. They bounded into the meadow, that is when I lost sight of them. I could only hope that they would pass my way. It wasn’t long until I saw them cross in front of me then disappear again. About 15 minutes later I saw the little buck coming in. He stepped out at about 20 yards, but he was behind a bush again. I could see his front leg though and I noticed that there was a raw spot on it, I had noticed that the night before when I took that shot at him that the arrow had hair on it but no blood. I must have just nicked him. He never did present a shot for me, but instead he circled around behind me with the doe and left back out into the meadow. Later that morning I was getting ready to come in for the morning when the land owner came down to the blind to discuss some changes he wanted to make to the blind. He climbed up into the blind with me and it nearly fell in! The guys who built it for him left a few nails out! Later that day Kevin and I went back and reinforced it and shored it up.
Kevin had moved to a different blind this morning since he wasn’t seeing anything. He managed to see one doe that morning.

Valley We Hunted

After fixing lunch and fixing the blind, we decided to take the four wheelers on a ride down the road. We saw some really beautiful rock formations and mountains. Along the way we saw what appeared to be goats, until I grabbed my video camera and zoomed in. I thought they looked like deer from such a far distance across the valley. Kevin noticed that since they were white, they couldn’t be deer but instead probably elk cows. So we blasted down the road and around the corner to sneak up on them. When we got near them we could see that it was a herd of antelope. I had my camera rolling and managed to video tape about 5 minutes of them from a fairly close range. The buck in the bunch was an awesome animal. He was every bit of 14 inches with wide beams and a fork at the top of each horn, truly a world class trophy and I have it on tape!

Antelope Jumping Fence

We also managed to find 3 rattle snakes that had been road killed so we took two of the rattles and a head from one. The land owner Bill had run over one on the way in and we grabbed that one also. We skinned it out and kept the head and rattles also.
After an afternoon of joy riding we came back in and got ready to head into the field to hunt. Kevin wanted to try the high blind at the opposite end of the property over a mile away. I wanted to try something different also, so I headed to the mountain to sit where the deer made their way up onto the mountain in the evenings. I sat down and managed to see five does, but none were close enough to shoot. I did have a porcupine climb a bush right over my head, that was interesting. Kevin managed to hear a lot of action but didn’t see anything. He heard two different bull elk sounding off along with some cows. He also heard a coyote nearby along with what he thought was a bear rumbling through the brush. So another day has passed with a lot of excitement but no meat in the freezer yet. We still have two full days to hunt though.

Colorado Adventure Day 4

Day four of our trip was the first full day of hunting for Kevin and I. We got up around 5 am and got out to the field before daylight. I headed down to my spot on the ATV again, but I now had to cross the creek in the dark! This was a little nerve racking, but I managed to make my way across and into my stand.

Slater Creek

I was sitting there in the stand as the sun came up and I could see it shining off the mountain in front of me. Straight in front of me was a mountain about 300 yards away. It was amazing to see this land formation just shoot up out of the valley. I could see the whole mountain side which held the deer. I still couldn’t believe that I was sitting in a tree stand in Colorado in the mountains watching the sunrise! I began to glass the mountain side to look for deer. It wasn’t long until I began to see movement. They made their way down the mountain and headed towards my stand. It was a doe and tow little ones. They came to within 30 yards of me, but there was no way I was going to shoot a doe with little ones with her, but it was fun to watch them pass through. I also saw two other does come down from the mountain, but they didn’t come into the stand.
I headed back into camp to see what Kevin saw, which was nothing. So we made some lunch and got some rest. It takes a while to get used to the thin air in the mountains and I was beginning to get a headache. After a little rest we headed outside to put the Roscobie Riser Cams that we had on loan.

Kevin's Bow With The Roscobie Riser Cam

We had to re-tune our bows with the cameras on them, so we started out at 20 yards then to 30 and then to 40. One thing led to another and we decided to shoot some 50 yard shoots, why I don’t know I guess we were feeling brave. I hit about 5 inches low with my first shot. Kevin’s shot was only a couple inches off. My second shot clipped the top of the target and launched down range, Kevin later found it 80 yards behind the target. His second shot hit dead center bulls eye. My third shot was a couple of inches high, not too bad. I don’t think I will be shooting at a deer at that distance.
Well it was time for the evening hunt, so we headed out. I made it into the stand around 4:30pm and man was it hot. Way too hot to be hunting, but it would soon cool down and get right. It was like clock work again at 6:15pm the buck came in again. He give me a perfect broadside shot at 30 yards. I tried to keep cool and I made my draw on him. I put the pin right where it should be and let it fly! I watched the arrow fly towards him and slide right under his belly! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I knew that it was a 30 yard shot because I used my range finder to check it the day before. He made a small jump and walked behind a tree, so I grabbed another arrow and waited. He walked back out and just as he began to clear the tree I drew back again, but he stopped. After about a minute, I couldn’t hold it any longer so I drew down. He was still calm and didn’t seemed bothered at all. He began to take a step so I drew again. I estimated the shot to be 40 yards and I knew exactly where to place the shot, and I let it fly! I watched the arrow sail under him again and hit the ground behind him. This time he bounded off. I got out the range finder to check my distance and it was 52 yards! I guess I under estimated that one! I went down and found my arrows, then climbed back up to try and figure out what I did wrong. I watched some other deer pass through the area and head up the mountain for the evening.

Nighttime Photo, Notice The Stars!

Night fell and it grew cold, so I headed back into camp and had to explain what happened. That is worse than missing sometimes, everyone gives you the business for missing. Kevin again saw nothing from his spot.
Kevin made supper that evening, and then it was lights out for day four.

Colorado Adventure Day 3

Well it is day three of our trip, and we spent the night in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It was at a hotel on the Yamba River called Rabbit Ears! No it wasn’t the bunny mansion with Hugh! That next morning we got our groceries from a local supermarket for the remainder of the week.
We got the call around noon from the property owner, Bill Kelly. We met him in Steamboat Springs and followed him to the property or at least we tried to follow him. He cut a trail that would have made Mario Andretti proud. Now remember we were pulling a trailer with all of our gear in it and we had to follow this speed demon down the little mountain roads. If that wasn’t bad enough, he made a turn down another road and all of a sudden the pavement ended. The road wasn’t just a normal dirt road, it was a one lane trail through the Arapaho National Forest in the mountains! Now Bill didn’t slow down any just because it was a one lane dirt road. He managed to do 60 mph down this pig trail and we had to try and follow him through the mountains.

Arapaho National Forest

At one point we lost sight of him as we headed down a step incline with a hairpin turn at the bottom. As we neared the bottom of the road we met a gravel train truck at the bend of the road. Kevin slammed on the brakes and we slid to a stop without smashing anything. As we finally got around him there was 4 more gravel trains behind him and the first one had dumped his load in the road. Kevin floored it and drug my trailer through the gravel pile. It wasn’t long before we had to stop and pull gravel out of the brakes.
Along the way through the forest and the mountains there was a lot to see and we did manage to take a few shots along the way, not to mention an encounter with a rattle snake that we eventually coaxed into the back of the truck bed.

Mr. Rattle Snake

We finally made it to the ranch and we had to pull our fingernails out of the steering wheel and dashboard, but we made it in one piece. The view from the ranch was awesome, I couldn’t believe we were actually in Colorado to spend a week bow hunting mule deer.
After we got unloaded we were taken around the property by Bill to see where everything was at. While we were out on the trip around the property we saw two bald eagles down by the creek. It looked as if they were waiting for a quick meal. We got our bows out and tuned up to make sure they were ok after the trip down, all was a ok. Then it was time to get our gear on and hit the woods for our first hunt even though it was getting late. The excitement was almost too much to contain, but we managed to hit the field. I got the 4 wheeler fired up and headed to my area I was going to hunt. I parked the ATV and worked my way down to Slater Creek.

My Colorado Transportation

I had to cross the creek to get to my spot. This was a first for me, I have never had to cross water to hunt. I carefully made my way into the water and found that it was almost too deep at one point to keep dry, but I managed to cross without getting wet. I sneaked up to the stand I was going to hunt and made my way up into it.
Most guys don’t hunt mulies from stands, but I was assured by the owner that I would see a lot of deer. I got set up and settled in to see what would happen and within 15 minutes I saw a deer coming in. It was a buck! I couldn’t believe this, I no more than get set up and here we go! It was a 3 point mulie buck that came in and caught me sitting down. I could have taken a 25 yard shot, but I would have had to rush the shot and I didn’t want to finish my hunt in just 15 minutes. Within the next hour and a half I saw 8 deer total. One of them was a nice buck way off in the distance, so I had high hopes for this spot. As the evening passed I also saw a bald eagle flying across the valley, it was probably one of the two we saw earlier.
As night fell, I got down and made my way back across the river and headed back to the cabin. Kevin came in and he saw one doe while he was out on stand and managed to take a shot at a coyote at about 40 yards with no luck. The land owner told us to come up to the big house and eat dinner with him. He fixed steak for us and afterwards we sat down and got to exchange hunting stories. It was a great beginning to our week, I hope the rest of it goes this well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Colorado Adventure Day 2

We finally drove out of the rain after about 12 hours of straight water on the windshield. We drove into Nebraska early in the morning. It was just about as flat as Iowa, I really found it interesting as we got near the North Platte River. My son Michael always talked about the goose hunting on the North Platte, so I naturally thought of him. As the sun rose we stopped in Kerneay, Nebraska for gas. We knew that this was also the town where the 2nd Cabela’s store was at. We followed the signs to try and find it with no luck. We had all but given up and began to turn around when I saw the sign on the little store front. It was an old small factory building with a small water tank outside. I was amazed at how small the store was, we are used to seeing such huge Cabela’s stores, like the ones we passed in Chicago and Omaha. It was 6am so they weren’t open yet, we got our gas and headed west.

Later that morning we stopped in North Platte, Nebraska for breakfast just beating the Sunday morning church rush. As we planned our next stop for gas we noticed that the original Cabela’s store was within our reach. It was in Sidney, Nebraska and then it was on to Denver. So we made our stop at Cabela’s and bought a few things for the hunt.

Sidney Nebraska Cabela's Store #1

It just wouldn’t be right to drive right past four of their stores and not stop and buy something.
We then turned our sights on Denver. As we got closer to Denver I kept noticing small dirt piles in fields by the road. I later learned that these were prairie dog dens. Then I started to see the little varmints sticking their heads out of the holes. I wish I had time to shoot a few of those little hole diggers. We arrived in Denver around 1pm local time.

Denver Colorado Skyline

We had made arrangements to visit with Aneal Roney from where we spent about an hour and a half talking with him.

We discussed the tactics we would need to hunt elk and mule deer. It was nice to finally meet a fellow podcast host. We had talked on the phone a couple of times and tried to plan to meet while we were in Colorado. So it was nice to finally put a face and name together.
Next we were off to Steamboat Springs for the night. It was supposed to be a 3 hour drive there, but we stopped at Sportsman’s Warehouse to purchase our elk tags, which turned into a nightmare. We thought that there were still 21 tags left for elk archery season. When we tried to purchase them we were told that they were for muzzleloader season! We then scrambled to think of what to do. We decided to try and buy a muzzleloader and the gear so we could hunt elk. When we got to the counter to purchase the gun and buy the tags we were told that we couldn’t purchase the license since the season had started the day before. They weren’t allowed to sell firearm license once the season had started. So much for hunting elk!

We left the store a bit upset, but we still had the mule deer hunt secured! Next we hit the highway again to head into the mountains. The sun was setting as we reached the Rockies. It was a beautiful sight to behold!

Sunset Over The Rockies

I had never seen anything so magnificent in all my life. Then the traffic stopped! A traffic jam in the mountains, then we found out it was road construction, I thought that was only done in Michigan! Finally we got on our way again and made our way through the Eisenhower Tunnel! We were at about 12,000 feet and the pressure began to get to me. My joints, ears, teeth, and sinus’ began to hurt extremely bad until we dropped down in altitude. You could tell we were flat landers. We had gotten on a two lane road for the last 60 miles and made it about 10 miles when we ran into a road block. We had to detour around and through the mountains on a small pig trail road which added another 15 miles or so to our trip. We finally made it into Steamboat Springs around 10:30pm local time. What a day!

Colorado Adventure Day One

We got away this morning at around 7:45am after packing the trailer full of hunting goodies. Kevin and I headed north to pick up the ATV’s to use in Colorado. This would cost us about 6 hours on the road that we would have otherwise put to good use heading west.

Our Hunting Lodge In Michigan Where We Got The ATV

We really hope that we NEED the ATV’s, if not it was a waste of time. That is all part of it though.
It wasn’t 30 minutes into the trip and it began to rain. We drove 165 miles north to pick up my machine and it rained all the way there. When we began to load it into the trailer it quite raining for about 15 minutes then it began to pour again. We drove west about an hour to pick up Kevin’s machine, it quite raining while we loaded his also, then it began to rain again.
We needed to stop and pick up a few hunting supplies at a hunting outfitters store nearby, so we combined that stop with some lunch. After that we were on our way to Colorado!!! After 545 miles of driving we finally made it out of the state of Michigan and it rained all the way. During the lighter showers we managed to see a few deer and turkey along the way. In one cut corn field we saw what must have been over 100 geese feeding on the spilled harvest. Little Mike would have went nuts!
We finally rolled through the south side of Chicago just after dark in the pouring rain. As I write this part of the blog we are about 90 miles from Iowa and it finally stopped raining after about 650 miles! What a relief. We did see an accident just north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It looked like a guy in a pickup lost control in the pouring rain and flipped his rig over in the median.

A Truck Flipped Over In The Rain

We also got detoured in Indiana due to the freeway being shut down due to the road being flooded. It doesn’t surprise me with all the rain. Did I mention it was RAINING!
Kevin has just opened a bag of what he calls beef jerky but it smells like crap! I don’t know how he can eat it! We have been somewhat surprised by the price of gas. With hurricane Ike coming ashore last night, the price of gas jumped at home over 30 cents! I was worried that we would see gas at $5 a gallon, but we have only seen it as high as $4.29 a gallon. We just bought it in Illinois for $3.99 a gallon, but diesel fuel is cheaper here than gasoline. It is just the opposite in Michigan. So we have finally driven out of the rain and everything seems to be going well so far. We are keeping our fingers crossed. Davenport, Iowa here we come!