IMG_6907Two weeks from today, Dustin and I will be wandering around the mountains searching for elk.  Yes, the hunting bug finally hit him, and he wants to go see what we can see.  This being his first year as an “elk hunter” we aren’t expecting to down a big bull.  However, if somehow the stars align and we do…it sure will be a treat hauling all that meat out of the backcountry.  Egads! 

Dustin is a great whitetail hunter.  Back home, much of year was spent preparing for deer season.  He’d get out his bow and staring shooting in the summer, cameras stayed out most of the year, stands were hung months prior, and shooting lanes were carved when the time fit.  With elk hunting, the whole game changes.  The stands no longer optima.  Elk don’t seem to have any sort of movement pattern – nothing predictable or routine with these massive ungulates.  The cameras, much the same situation, not a whole lot of insight can be garnered from them.  This new style of hunting requires some schooling…so the last few days I have been studying at Elk University.

CDOW provides outdoor enthusiasts with all kinds of information.  Their website is easy to navigate, and the people in the Fort Collins office are friendly and knowledgeable.  With their insight, we were able to identify the most common range for elk during the season we picked.  Not only are the workers at CDOW extremely helpful, the website provides a lot of tools to increase your chances.  The department put together a series of learning modules and dubbed it Elk University.  For us noobs, it has been extremely informative.


I have no idea how this adventure will turn out.  Unfortunately we don’t have elk beating down our door, like this guy in the above pic.  We’re going where the elk still act like wild animals.  Who knows where they will be.  Winter is settling in in the high country, and all the miles we might have to hike could really play havoc on us.  We’re selecting our gear wisely and will have our SPOT.  No matter what, I think this will be an experience we won’t soon forget.


Written by Stephanie Mullins


Charlie L.

I am incredibly jealous. Unfortunately my brother and I never got to grow up hunting, even though we are from the Colorado Mountains. Every night I check the outdoor channels on TV hoping for a bow hunt for elk. The calling, the stalking, the camouflage reminds me so much of how I like to search for big trout that I can't get enough. Unfortunately elk hunting is a time commitment, learning curve and expense I can't handle right now but it is definitely on my bucket list. Best of luck!! and I'd love to hear about all the details, regardless if you are able to fill a tag or not.

Fontinalis Rising

I got the elk bug a few years back and did an outfitted trip to Montana- we didn't even see one, though we did hear some calling in the dark timber. I really enjoyed what you shared of Dustin's past hunting. I've normally done the things you mention but for a variety of reasons haven't even shot my bow yet. I really hope you have a great adventure and some success. I'll share my archery adventures if I can manage to get it in. I'll be unemployed right about the time the rut fires up here, but won't go to the field if my shooting form isn't up to par. Can't wait to see how it turns out.


Hope you guys bring home some elk meat! It'll be fun no matter if the tag is filled or not, but scoring on your first elk hunt would just make it that much nicer.

Enjoy the trip and be safe!

Steve Zakur

Sounds like a fantastic adventure. All you Colorado folks got me thinking next summer's vacation is going to be spent out there wandering about.

Stephanie and Dustin

@Erin – With us, it always is.

@Charlie – Hunting gear, like fly fishing gear, is ridiculously expensive. Vendors can throw a "hunting" or "fly fishing" label on something and charge 2x the price. It is nuts. The learning curve is huge – that is why I don't expect a lot of luck. People hunt elk for years before they finally track one down and get a good shot. I'm enamored by the whole process as well. We shall see what I say when we return from our first trip.

@Mark – Agreed and Thanks!

@Sanders – Thanks. I'm a bit nervous and excited.

@FR – Unfortunately, this season we are going to rifle hunt. Dustin's bow has a bent cam, and we don't have the cash to buy him a new bow at the moment. His bow is so old that it isn't worth spending the money to fix the cam. Anyhow, if we do get one, it won't be the same as a bow kill, but beggars can't be choosy. To be honest, we don't know enough about elk ecology and biology to be deadly with a bow at this point.

@Brian – Dustin has high hopes!

@Steve – It will be a great vacation – there are so many magical places. I think we could vacation the rest of our lives in CO, and not see everything she has to offer.


The cameras, much the same situation, not a whole lot of insight can be garnered from them. This new style of hunting requires some schooling…so the last few days I have been studying at Elk University.


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