By Trent Swanson
At the end of July, I spent two nights in the woods of Unit 201. I arrived at last light on Friday night with just enough time to set my cot out under the stars and jump into my Western Hunter Sleeping Bag. First light found me glassing the sage-covered hillsides and aspens draws of Cold Spring Mountain. I found a bunch of deer at my first stop, then nearly ran over a mama blue grouse and her babies on my way to my next stop. I found antelope and a herd of bachelor mule deer bucks before glassing a great 4×5 muley. A covey of sage grouse flushed from the edge of the road and a badger crossed in front of me. The shear amount and diversity of wildlife made me rename this area the “Serengetiof Colorado.” Just before dark I spotted my first elk of the year: a 310-class bull with a raghorn.
I found another place to camp for the night, planning to sleep on my cot under an Easy-Up shelter. Soon after the canopy was up, it began to rain…and rain, and rain, and rain. The canopy works perfectly for a light shower, but soon drips fell on my sleeping bag. After nearly an hour of trying to get out from under them, I finally decided to just sleep in the truck. At 40-years-old, the front seat of a pickup is not the best place for a restful sleep. Oh well, it was better than sleeping in the rain!
I woke up before light again and was on the road to explore and glass. At my first set-up, the SWAROVSKI 12x50ELs showed elk after elk. I had found a herd of cows and calves! After watching them and finding a few deer, I moved on to a new location. I found three more herds of cows and calves and another awesome buck. I might have to think about a deer tag in this unit sometime in the future!
Then the unexpected happened – a heard a bugle! On July 28th I heard a bugle! I could hardly believe it, but then I heard it again, and again. After the third time, I figured I needed to find the bull serenading me. I packed up my binos, tripod and spotting scope, and headed out after it. Once I hiked over the first hill, I realized that the elk was probably further away than I had originally thought, sounding much closer due to the terrain. I followed anyway and was led to an awesome valley with great looks up onto a mountain of scattered aspens and pines.
My glassing produced a beautiful bull! He was a wide, clean 6×6 that I guessed would score in the 330-340 class. He fed in the open long enough for me to take some digiscoping photos and videos. He was not the buglingbull, as I continued to hear his bugle slowly fading away from me, but as they say a bull in the hand is worth two in the bush. While the bull I watched is not one of the monsters I’m hoping to find in September, he’s a great bull that again left me excited for the hunt.
Trent Swanson, a Colorado native, is the Mountain Territory Sales Rep for SWAROVSKI OPTIK. You might recognize his name since he used to work with us here at Western Hunter. Heis a self-professed “optics nerd” who has been chasing big game critters for nearly 30 years. You can find the rest of the blog posts about his Colorado elk hunt here.