It took John Skrabo, our Vice President of Marketing, eight years to draw an archery elk tag in a limited unit in Colorado. "I knew it would be the hunt of a lifetime," said Skrabo, who has bowhunted elk in every western state except Arizona. Skrabo headed out in September to the Aspen forests of western Colorado to hunt with longtime friend, Jim Birchfield of South Carolina. John hunted with Jim's brother, Lynn, who is a savvy woodsman himself. The pair made a great combination with Skrabo's bugling and cow calling and Birchfield's knowledge of the country.
The hunting party rose at 4:30 a.m. on day four of the hunt, driving an hour from the hunting lodge by four wheel drive and hiking another two hours on foot to get close to the elk. "We passed up a number of 300-inch bulls the first three days," Skrabo said. "We had located a couple of really big bulls the night before but couldn’t get closer than 80 yards…one herd bull had 24 cows – the other was by himself."
Hunting at nearly 10,000 feet elevation, the hunters set out in pursuit of the trophy bulls. "Between the climbing with a 30-pound pack and old football injuries, my knee started swelling and hurting so I traded my Danner boots for my Oregon Ducks' Nike shoes," Skrabo laughed. "I may not ever hunt in boots again."
After an unsuccessful three hours of pursuing rutting bulls, the end of the hunt was near. "The elk were not bugling that great," Skrabo said. "They would answer a bugle, but they would take their cows and run." Skrabo then tried a small bull Knight & Hale diaphragm mouth call and bugle. Three bulls answered about a half mile away so the hunters headed uphill again for what looked to be a final opportunity at a bull.
"We found ourselves in some heavy timber," Skrabo said, "so I cow called…"All of a sudden, we had a bull come in, chasing a cow." (you'll see the cow walk by in the frame. "I couldn't get a shot through the aspens so I just stood still and waited. Finally, a shot opportunity presented itself and Skrabo made a perfect 25 yard double-lung, complete pass-through."
The trophy bull ran 15 yards and quickly expired.
The 7x6 green scored 350 Pope & Young points and will be well into the archery record book.
Nature moves fast. Moments after the kill, a satellite bull moves in to take over the big bull's harem and ensure that these Aspen groves continue to produce massive elk.
As you transition to mid and late season turkey hunting, remember that this can be a very tough time to attract a Tom that has been pressured. Also, as the season wears on many of the hens are ready to breed and spending nearly all day with the gobblers. Try these tactics during your mid season turkey hunts.