The moon was so full, looked so close, I thought I could hit it with an arrow.
Maybe before I die, I'll try. Could be, it just looked close because I am at 10,650 feet on the side of a mountain. There is just a touch of frost.
I adjust the pack and slide the bow sling over my head. There is just a touch of frost and the aspens have started to turn.
It is time to head for the park. That is what they call meadows up in the mountains- parks. That is where we expect them to come, the two bulls and their harem. I intend to be there first. The tenth bugle in half that many minutes, says I better hurry.
It is elk season. When the meadow grasses have a touch of frost, it is elk season.
Of all the hunting I have done and all the animals I have chased, elk hunting remains my favorite.
I have found nothing to compare with the thrill of a bugling bull, coming your way. The closer he gets, the more ragged your breathing and shakier your knees become. I think of that as I crossed Dead Woman Creek. Below me, through the aspens, I can see the lights of the small town of Oak Creek, CO. I am about to pause and catch my breath when he bugles again. "We have to get going and step it up." Said my partner, Paul Brown. "We have to beat him to the bench.
The bench was a narrow piece of flat ground, circling one side of the mountain. It was a natural travel path for both animals and humans. That is where we planned to set up.
And we did...just barely. I had just reached the bench, snuggled in the aspens 170-yards from the park when he screamed, halfway between the park and us. I quickly unslung my bow, dropped my pack and got an arrow nocked. Paul hit the hot cow call, coaxing him to leave his harem and come get her. I still remember the yellow aspen leaves falling and blowing in the breeze as he trotted into view, 40-yards away and closing fast.
I can never elk hunt again.
At 71, I can't tolerate the altitude. But I just might go visit Foster Butt at his elk camp for a week. Just sit around and enjoy the view. Might even do a little cooking.
Foster and Kathy Butt, have a superb elk and mule deer guide service in a prime piece of New Mexico, just east of Tierra Amarilla, north of Santa Fe.
Their land borders the Carson National Forest on one side and is private, only hunted by Foster's clients. Their success rate is high due to both their professionalism and the high number of animals that both live on and pass through their land. The food is great and the rustic, log lodge is comfortable. Add all that together and you have all the makings of a quality elk hunt.
Foster, a master taxidermist owns Wildlife Taxidermy in Madison and began guiding in New Mexico in the mid-90's.
I was among his first hunters and have gone back several times. I have seen the business grow. In 1995, it was the site of an award winning article I wrote for Bow and Arrow Magazine called, Bulls of the Brazos Hole. That was an unforgettable hunt as have been almost all of my elk hunts.
One piece of advice I give younger hunters who want to go on a quality elk hunt is this. GO. Go now, while you are young and healthy. Borrow the money and pay the bank back. Don't wait until you can afford it and are not healthy enough to handle the mountains.
You can talk to Foster and learn all about it by calling (615) 865-9323. Trust me, it is a quality, affordable hunt for elk or big mulies. He can structure the hunt to your capabilities and offers both gun and bow hunts. It is probably too late to book a hunt for this year. However, it is the perfect time to book for next year. That gives you a year to get in shape. Soon, there will be a touch of frost.
As he slowed to a trot, I drew the bow back and remember, the gleaming broadhead shaking as the sight pin settled in the center of his shoulder.
He was blowing snot and his eyes were wild with anger and anticipation. I released the string and he trotted right into razor sharp blades.
I heard him crash down.
I'd give something shiny for another September in elk country.
There will be a touch of frost soon. Our fall squirrel season opens this Saturday, elk season in the mountains can't be far behind.
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