On October 17th, 2019, my Father and I took off on a 1,050 mile drive to chase some bull elk in Maybell, Colorado. Leaving our small town of Mariposa, California early in the morning with a drive to Salt Lake City on the first day. We crossed on Interstate 80 through northern Nevada with a few stops for fuel, both for the truck and our stomachs. We arrived in Salt Lake City in the late evening during a big rain storm, ate dinner and hit the sack for some rest, for tomorrow we arrive at camp.
We left Salt Lake City around 0800 stopping in Heber city, Utah for breakfast and gas, then headed East. We booked our trip through Behrman outfitter out of Maybell, Colorado and arrived at camp around noon on Friday the 18th. After unloading our gear into our cabin and spending some time with the guys, we drove into town to purchase our tags and licenses. By mid day, the cold weather and wind has us buttoning up and eventually move inside for some refreshments and amazing food cooked by the owner, Russ’s wife, Nancy. We had an amazing night getting to know our fellow hunters in camp from Illinois and Wisconsin.
The time had arrived! It was 21 degrees on that Saturday morning, the first day of the hunt, and my blood was pumping so fast that I actually felt warm in the below freezing weather. It’s time to put down a bull. My Dad and I were paired up with our guide, Russ, and we ventured off into the 25,000 plus acre Ranch. It was opening morning and the radio traffic was full of excitement for the group of hunters from Illinois as they were able to lay the smack on three amazing bulls right at daybreak. Shortly after, the radio went off again letting us know that one of the Wisconsin hunters had taken a nice single horn stag bull about half a mile from where we were. The morning hunt for my dad and I was uneventful so around 1000, we headed back to camp for lunch and relaxation.
That evening we headed back out to the southern portion of the ranch to watch the bedding areas in hopes to have some elk move out to feed. We received a radio call that the Wisconsin hunters were on a spike bull and were making a move so we found high ground and watched it unfold from about two miles away. Day one ended with 5 bull elk on the ground.
No harvests were made by any hunters in camp.
Today started the same way, except a large storm moved in overnight. Snow and ice coated the ground and the temps were in the high teens. My dad and I split up with different guides and a Wisconsin hunter came with each of us as an extra set of eyes. We worked our way through the roads on the ranch and were in the middle of a blizzard. Moving over a hillside, we spotted a herd of elk through the snow, so we got out of the truck and got into position. I picked out a solid 3x4 bull at the top of the herd and settled my crosshairs. I clicked off my safety and took a deep breath. Taking up slack on the trigger, which felt like it was a mile long at this point, my Remington finally lunges back into my shoulder.
I reloaded, but by this point the herd was running at full speed in the opposite direction. We went to where the bull was standing and found no blood, so we moved on. We decided to take a break from our hunt the remainder of the day, so we went with some of the guys from Illinois to help them fill antelope tags. Two speed goats hit the deck that evening.
Today I’ve got to make it happen. Tomorrow is the last day to hunt the ranch so they can let it sit for a few days before the next group comes in. The morning hunt was uneventful, saw a few elk but they were way too far off to make a move on, so we headed back to the ranch and gathered our thoughts for the evening hunt. We ventured back out around 1600, and headed to the south end of the ranch and watched the bedding areas. Another guide and hunter were helping us spot from the west side of the ranch. Around 1800, the radio crackled and we heard the words we’ve been waiting to hear: “There are two bulls moving your way from the back side of the mountain right in front of you. If you can get to the duck pond, you should be able to make a move on them.”
Off we went.
We worked our way to the western side of the ranch, about one mile downhill from the spotters. They informed us that the bulls were feeding in our direction near a certain landmark and we needed to get there fast. We grabbed our gear and headed out. We worked our way along a road and once we got to the top, we not only saw the bulls, but we’re also within shooting distance! We quickly got our rifles set up and steadied our scopes on our animals. Our guide Russ ranged us out at 447 yards. I had never shot that far before at an animal and was extremely nervous for what I was about to do. My dad shot first and I immediately followed.
Missed. We were both slightly too low. The elk didn’t move. I reloaded and aimed slightly higher, now holding almost 2 feet over his back, I pulled the trigger again and watched the projectile strike in the spine above the shoulder. My dad struck right in the vitals. Mine is down but my fathers’ isn’t giving up yet. His animal took many more rounds but he did it. WE DID IT! We have taken 2 Colorado bull elk side by side. The excitement was unreal!
We made our way to our bulls while Russ worked the truck around a large drainage. We got them field dressed and packed into the truck. Punching that tag was the most satisfying thing I’d ever done! Our excitement ended two days later when we loaded up our meat at Brother’s Game processing in Craig, Colorado and began our two day venture back home. Loaded down and humbled.
That 2019 Colorado elk trip was my first, but will definitely not be my last. I can not wait until I have the opportunity to go back and do it all again! A massive shoutout goes to our guides Russ, Talin and Augie. If you are interested in an unforgettable trip to hunt for elk, mule deer, antelope, mountain lion and deer, I highly recommend using Behrman Outfitter in Maybell, Colorado!
Pictured above is Drake Long.
Pictured above is Don Long.