I first picked up a bow in 1997 after moving to Eagle, Colorado. I still shoot that old Jennings; it is the only bow I've ever owned. Somewhere along the way I settled on a goal of completing the Colorado Big 8. This journey is well on its way with the 2010 season contributing another three species to the quest. I was fortunate to take a Pronghorn, a Rocky Mountain Goat, and a Cougar with bow and arrow.
I am a dedicated do-it-yourself bowhunter and take pride in this type of hunting style. I savor the challenges encountered while hunting without "professionals", and often by myself. Although the typical bowhunting season may only last a number of weeks in Autumn, it is certainly a year-round activity. Planning, reading, scouting, and making plans dominates the remainder of the year and helps pass the time until I can again strap on boots and smear camouflage face paint. The 2011 season presents an opportunity to close out my Big 8 adventure. A Mule deer buck is my final target and my Heads Up Decoy will certainly be along for the action.
Elk hunting is my bread-and-butter and I enjoy the elk rut more than any other season. The magic of high alpine meadows and aspen groves filled with bugles is fuel for my soul. I've had the good fortune to take many bulls over the years and a couple of trophies. All of my elk have been killed on public land in over-the-counter (OTC) units of Colorado. These amazing creatures humble me each year and never fail to teach another lesson (or a dozen) along the way. This year's highlight was a particular day in the late bow season when my hunting partner and I spent most of a day among a wild bunch of rut-crazed bulls. There must have been over 15 bulls all hanging out together with only a handful of cows between them. All of the bulls were big enough to command some harem of their own, but they all mingled as one, big, pissed-off family! The bugling action was tremendous and the Heads Up Decoy was making a laughing stock out of many bulls. We called an uncounted number of bulls, passed on some, missed others and had a fantastic day. My partner killed one of the biggest bulls at 12 yards when he came in on a string to my calls and decoy. I've always said that I am a far better hunter than shooter and I proved it once again on this day, shooting high on a second giant bull (probably a blessing anyhow as we already had 800 pounds on the ground to deal with).
My most difficult hunts along the way have been solo hunts for a Rocky Mountain Bighorn ram and Rocky Mountain Goat. The physical and psychological challenge of these hunts was awesome and the terrain was often treacherous. Many moments during these adventures are burned into my memory forever and I can replay them in my mind at will. I look forward to my upcoming high alpine Mulie hunt and expect that it will offer some of the same challenges and hazards.
Best of luck to everyone next season. I look forward to spending a bit more time on the Heads Up blog reading and sharing more stories to pass the spring and summer months. I've made a resolution to get back into top shooting form of years ago; that big velvet buck napping in an alpine meadow may only give me one opportunity to close out my Big 8 quest.