Back Home from Elk/Deer hunt Unit 18/28


Active Member
Dec 10, 2018
Well I'm back home in TX now and did not harvest either animal I was hunting for. My fiancé, step dad, mom and I hiked out on Friday August 30th from the Bill Miller trailhead. We setup camp about 4.3 miles in. Ran into quite a few hunters the first day, to my surprise they were all very nice people. We got camp setup Friday afternoon and then just setup in the big meadow and looked to see if we could glass anything that evening. We did not see anything that evening. Not knowing the area that well yet I decided we should sit the same area in the morning and then we could move from there after the morning. Same result we did not see anything. After the morning hunt we moved about 1.5 miles up the trail into a different meadow. This one seemed promising as there were no horse tracks or foot prints going to it. Also there was tons of elk and deer sign. We set there the rest of the day. I saw one doe around noon laying in the edge of the woods and nothing until about 30 minutes before dark. Then I spotted a nice 4x4 mule deer out in the meadow. Probably about 500 yards away. I decided to sit the same spot the following morning. That morning there was a bull elk in the valley that fed into the meadow that I was sitting. I could hear the bull bugling and seemed to be getting closer. Until I heard that distinct sound of a hunter up on the hill using his bugle. Watching tv I always wondered how people could tell the difference between a real bugle and a hunter bugling. Well once you hear that sound of the bugle you can definitely tell when it sounds like someone is blowing through piece of PVC. Back to the story. As soon as the hunter started bugling the bull bugle went right back up the valley where he came from. The stories are true they are very call shy and turn around once they hear one. On the way back to camp that morning around 10 am I saw a cow and calf headed to the creek in the meadow by our camp. I tried to get closer but I was very exposed and she picked me off almost immediately and ran back up the mountain. At camp I decided I would try to go after the mule deer I saw the night before. It was about 4:00 pm and my step dad and I were heading out to our spot. As we come out of our camp and hit the trail we ran into this nice couple with some llamas. We talked to them for about 20 minutes or so. Well as it turns out they were going up the valley where I heard the bull to setup camp. I told them where I was hunting that night to try to get the mule deer I saw the night before. They did not go up the valley as they planned because they would have had to walk right past the area I was hunting. I wouldn't have cared either way being on public land I knew that you are going to run into other hunters and sometimes be hunting the same area. If they happen to be here on the forum i would like to tell them thank you for not pushing past me that night and setting up camp behind us. That's probably the nicest thing ive ever seen other hunters do while out in the woods. Well about 7:15 that night I look over to my left and there he was standing on the ridge about 200 yards away. I was on the point of a small trip of pines in the middle of this meadow. I give a hand sign to my dad to let him know where this buck was. It couldn't have been more perfect. The buck started coming straight through the middle of the meadow right towards me. Light was getting low but I knew I had plenty of time. The buck gets 100yds out in front of me in the meadow and stops to graze...... And never moved any closer. It was heartbreaking but thats the way hunting goes especially archery hunting. I had no cover in front of me to make a move so I just had to sit there and watch my best chance of shooting a 24" wide 4x4 in full velvet just fade away into the night. We hiked out the next morning. After that I hunted some of the unit around our house. We had a decent 4x4 mulie that was hanging out in the woods behind our house but I could never get close enough to him. I also hiked 12 miles up behind lost lake to the ridge to glass both sides and saw 0 animals all day. This seemed very slow to me. Maybe I came to early in the season. I have a lot of things to think about before next season on how I plan to hunt the area and when. I will also note we took a day and drove through RMNP and all we saw were 1 bull with about 10 cows. Compared to normally seeing 100's of elk. Even though I was unsuccessful, I learned a lot that will help me in the future.

Some things I learned that I will do different next time.
1. Stay out in the woods in the same area longer. Ideally at least 5 hunting days next time If I had more time I know I could have setup and got within range of that buck or up the valley where I heard the elk.
2. It was nice to experience it with the family. But next time go by myself or with other hunters. Catering to others really restricts where you can hunt with 3 non hunters with you and 2 of them double my age. Or just rent horses so I can get them in and out easier.
3. Leave the spotting scope at home. Unnecessary weight for that area. Not enough open country. my 10x42's worked just fine.
4. Get rid of the horn hunter full curl pack. Its a heavy pack empty and not very comfortable. I learned that the hard way the day I went 12 miles up and down the mountain.
5. Go later in the season when its not so hot during the day. The animals were not moving much.

Once again even though I didn't harvest this was a great trip and I learned a lot. I'm already anxious for next year.



Veteran member
Mar 28, 2016
Gypsum, Co
At least it sounds like you had fun along with the rest of the tribe.

Hunting here in the west is a learning experience. As you found out your binoculars were just as good as a spotting scope for the area that you were in. That extra weight on a pack empty doesn't sound like much until you load it up and take a good hike.

I know some hunters that have been coming to Colorado from back east for over 10 years now and have only notched a arrow a couple of times and have never let one fly. But they enjoy every second of the time spent here. And they are learning each and every year of what to do and what not to do. What to pack and what to leave home. There are times that I think that they come out here just to enjoy the mountains.
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Veteran member
Mar 9, 2014
I’ll echo the comments of others as this was a successful trip. I know you’re probably beating yourself up over some of the minor issues but Had a great time, saw animals, and learned a lot!
Not only that it beats going to work. 👍
Congratulations brother
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Active Member
Jan 25, 2014
Creston BC Canada
Sounds like a great trip to me, filling a tag is just icing. The way I see it now the killing part is really just such a small part of the whole hunt, not saying I don't like cutting a tag, but the preparation, travel, and experiences while on the hunt are what make memories. Personally hunting solo is more rewarding, I'm more focused, hunt longer, and don't have to make compromises. That said I love hunting with my daughter and my best friend. Being with my daughter on first deer(white tail and mule deer) was incredible.


Very Active Member
Jul 9, 2018
4. Get rid of the horn hunter full curl pack. Its a heavy pack empty and not very comfortable. I learned that the hard way the day I went 12 miles up and down the mountain.
I'm a big fan of ultralight day loads these days. I hung a Wisport Sparrow pouch on the rear panel of an Eberlestock Nosegunner bino harness. I can bring a light poncho/tarp, a small kill kit, a small emergency kit, a snack, and a big bottle of water and my whole load is <5lbs (not counting water). It's not just about not carrying all the weight. I'm a lot more nimble that way. It's a lot easier to move quietly through dark timber with a tiny load.
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Veteran member
Apr 25, 2016
Cedar Rapids, IA
Yeah; like everyone else sez: those days in the mtns are worth many times more than reading about it; you'll retain this experience and are that much more ahead of the learning curve for next time!

I like what you said about discerning a real bugle from a call. 2017 I had the same experience. Its hard to exactly describe, but once you know, you know, and then seeing a bull get it too-well that's priceless.
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