4 X 4’ING IN COLORADO
Ready to Roll
$5000.00 changes hands and I set sail for Collbran Co and as it is mid October take the scenic
route up through Telluride and enjoy all the fall leaves and the magnitude of the mountains.
Arrive at the ranch around 8 p.m. and then the fun starts.
“Got your licences?”
Back we go to the village store which is a sea of hunter orange (are Elk color blind?) and the
band of assassins is purchasing all manner of hunter things. A brisk trade on the licence front
(almost take a number) and at last my turn comes.
“What do you want Hun?”
“Umm, Elk, deer and black bear please”
Guide steps in and assures me and the little old lady to forget the bear! more money changes
0200 and alarms are going off everywhere and no time for sleeping this is fun! Over to the
cookhouse and while they cook your breakfast there is a do it yourself lunch pack section. Make
your own lunch, load your own thermos.
0330, and the clandestine group assembles in the parking lot with all the equipment to take up
the mountain. We are split up into 3 groups and try and bundle ourselves and guns into 3 vintage
Careering down a muddy mountain track we screech to a halt as a big buck is standing there
gazing into the lights (well I did get to see a deer!) A bit further on and we stop and 5 of us get
out. It’s pitch black and without more ado “mountain man” says follow me and disappears uphill
into the darkness. Within 5 minutes we have lost him!
After crashing through whippy bushes and thick undergrowth I’m finally at the top of the draw and
told this is my position and when the sun comes up there will be a track on the other side where
the “beasties” go.
Sit down and wait, time for a coffee……. useless new thermos couldn’t keep anything warm, a
starbuck’s cup would have been better. Gun out of slip, bullets at the ready, lukewarm coffee and
cigarette in hand wait for the sun. Dawn breaks and there is the track and then a rustling in some
bushes and as I sit looking at the shaking bush a big black bear stands up looks at me sitting there
opened mouthed! Before I can do a thing it’s gone.
For the next 6 hours I sit in splendid isolation looking down the valley and watching the cloud
coming in. Nothing other than the cloud moves! As the cloud creeps up towards me it gets darker
and darker and by 1 p.m. it starts raining and the fun meter is now nose diving. 2 p.m. in the
slanting rain , with the wind now gusting a good 30 mph, Tonto pops up and announces “Good
news” we are staying for an extra hour!”
2.30 p.m. the gun is back in it’s slip, the lukewarm coffee is now stone cold, the wind and rain are
increasing, I’m pissed off and the hood is up.
3 p.m. I’ve had enough and now struggle down the muddy wet hillside through all these little oak
thickets as the rain turns to snow and starts to settle. Great!
A good supper and lots of hunting stories and things don’t seem quite so dismal with plenty of
home made booze.
0200 and the clangers are going again and the cycle starts once more, the only difference being
6 inches of crisp white snow.
The Guide says same places as yesterday, and that doesn’t exactly thrill me. Up the hill in the
dark again, only difference is that today when the branches whip back you get covered in 2 inches
of wet snow. Top of the mountain to you then, and another day passes and the snow starts to
melt! I think I heard a gunshot once during the day, although that may have been wishful thinking.
Day 2 and the snow starts to melt
Day 3 and I ask for a change of location, (I am paying after all) So mountain man says ” You follow
the footprints in the snow and head off up there and I’ll take Mrs Lovejoy to her stand and I’ll catch
I dutifully trudge off up the mountain to Camp 3 following the footprints in the day old snow.
I have been walking for about 1 and half hours and still no sign of the guide. As the sun comes up
I enter a clearing an on checking the footprints go no further as this a dead end. Time for a “ciggy”
as Tonto leaps into the clearing to tell me I have gone the wrong way in the dark. Well, whoopeedo!
So we set off cross mountain into all those nice thickets with him leading and me humping all the kit
and getting covered in snow. 45 mins later we emerge on a wide 4 wheeler track and can now see
the ridge up ahead.
” Excuse me Tonto, I’m getting mighty pissed off with this. I’ve been walking for over 2 hours now
and I have had enough. Had I wanted a mountaineering holiday I would have booked a flight to
Nepal and tried Everest… where the F*** are we going?
“Sorry Sir, if you see the ridge…. and just down from the top there is a single fir … that’s your spot”
Another 20 mins and while I pause for breath at 10,000 ft I see some orange up on the ridge
“Excuse me Tonto, are those hunters?”
“Oh yes Sir”
“Alright how did they get up there before us?”
“They drove up the back way”
“**** ****** ******K!”
So at last after 3 hours walking up a mountain, wondering what an Elk has ever done to upset
me, I’m established under the fir tree with my cold coffee as the snow drips off the branches and
trys to soak me. Some time later a group of Elk emerge about 50 yards in front of me but they are
all yearlings with just bumps on their heads. 2 p.m. and I’m off down the hill and it takes me one
hour less going down.
Day 4 and a completely new area. The snow has all but gone but it was -35 last night so pretty
crisp and crunchy! I draw the wrong slot yet again and when the sun comes up I can see my rifle
is covered in frost and the sights are frozen over. With nothing happening I can calculate that as
I’m in the shade and the sunlight is coming down the other side of the valley it will be 10 a.m.
before I feel it’s rays. Lunchtime and the Guides say we are going somewhere else.
I’m dropped off at a tree stand overlooking acres of these oak thickets and by now the weather
has changed and it must be 70. Buzzzzz buzzzzzz buzzzzzz oh, oh, BEES and they just love
hunter orange! About one hour later another guide turns up on an ATV ” How good a shot are
He takes me on the ATV (no walking) and stops at the base of the mountain. “There” he says
“Right up there”
I gaze into the distance trying to find what he is so excited about but clearly I’m looking in the
Eventually I see what he is talking about and looking through the glasses I can just make out
2 Bull Elk standing and eating on a ledge near the top of the hill.
Out with the Bushnell rangefinder and it comes back with 372 YARDS! I’m using a Colt Sauer
7mm Mag which was harmonized at 100 yards so this should be interesting. Sling on, line up on
the ATV and find the ledge, one is head on and the other a classic side on shot. I place the
horizontal cross wire just over it’s spine and with controlled breathing fire!………… the shot
echoes round the hillsides and the Elk carry on eating.
Reload, back in position, deduce the shot must have gone low and especially as I’m firing uphill
at about 45 degrees. So this time move the horizontal bar right up until only the smallest bit of
Elk is in the sight. Boom!
Elk falls off cliff, and the other one carries on eating. It then goes over to the edge and looks
down, turns and just saunters off into the trees. After much high fiving the guide says we had
better go and get it as it will be dark soon.
Nightfall and we find the 5 X 6
At nightfall we come across the creature and the guide calls for assistance to move the beast
but by now everyone else is enjoying supper. We try to get it down the slope, all 850 lbs of a
5 x 6 Bull Elk on a 2:1 slope!
It either comes free all at once and all 3 of us hurtle down the mountain in the dark crashing into
every bush, tree and rockface, or it gets jammed in everything, hooves and horns and we can’t
move it for love nor money until we hack a bush to pieces when all hell breaks loose again and
we become another furry avalanche in the dark!
We make it to level ground just as the guides arrive with a big Dodge.
A day later, as I never saw a deer, they invite me to shoot a Hog, no a pig, not a Harley Davidson
and so it was… the biggest ugliest sabre toothed pig I have ever seen.
Well that was big game hunting, can’t say I truthfully enjoyed it, and NO I wouldn’t do it again.
That’s ONE Ugly Pig!
Tony (Daktari) Down The Last of the Great White Hunters