Colorado Plains Deer Hunt – Opening Day
After two days of scouting, the much anticipated opening of the plains deer season started this morning. I was up at 4:00 AM and at the area I was at yesterday to park my truck at 5:15, encouraged that there were no other vehicles there. I put on my pack, loaded the rifle and headed off in the darkness to the place I wanted to be before sunrise, about a mile and a half away. I was settled in to the steep hillside below a bluff overlooking Big Sandy Creek at 5:45, the same place I ended my day yesterday.
It was pretty cold out, but I was dressed for it, and I was anxious as the sun’s first light began to turn the darkness into the forms of trees, the creek bed, and the surrounding vegetation. I could still see stars in the sky and a slight breeze rustled the leaves on the ground. About 50 yards away I could barely make out three deer slowly walking towards the other side of the creek bed, but it was still too dark to shoot. I couldn’t even tell if they were whitetail or mule deer (both live in this area), there was not enough light, but it was encouraging.
I sat there in complete silence waiting to see more movement as the tops of the trees began to catch the first rays of the rising sun. It was at that moment that I remembered why I do not like to hunt the rifle season, especially on the plains where you can drive your truck to within a mile of where you want to hunt. I heard someone talking, quite loudly. He was either on his cell phone or using a walkie-talkie, and I could hear him as if he were standing right next to me, although I couldn’t see him. He was telling somebody where he was, and he said he just saw three does walk by but no bucks. Then I saw him walking out into an opening on the other side of the creek, making all kinds of noise as he walked, and still talking.
So there went my ambush spot for the morning, as he continued to walk right through the area that I was hoping to intercept a deer. He didn’t even see me, so I let him go on his way, and decided to head down stream to the other area I had found deer yesterday. I was moving very slowly along the ridge above the creek, the sunlight had still not reached below the ridge and the creek bed was still in shadows. Suddenly I heard some rustling, and then I saw the blaze orange of three hunters walking in a line in my direction, with the wind at their backs no less. There went my second option.
Before it was 7:00 in the morning, my hunting area wasn’t looking so good, I was very discouraged. I hadn’t seen anyone in the two days of scouting, and now hunters were crawling all over the place. I decided to sit down and let those guys go pass while I thought about what I could do next. I looked at my map to see where these guys might have come from, and then decided to head southeast towards another bend in Big Sandy Creek that was a little farther away from an easy access point. I cut across the tumble weed and sage brush plateau for about a mile and came to the creek once again.
It was good looking terrain and habitat, but once again I saw two guys in orange about a quarter mile away walking in my direction. I decided that I would try to take advantage of the situation and found a good hiding spot in some of the piled up logs and debris from the flood last month, hoping that maybe these guys would push a deer my way. I was a little nervous about potentially putting myself in their line of fire, and I was very conscious of where they were coming from in case I got a shot at something. But that didn’t happen, no deer came my way, and these hunters passed me too without even seeing me.
By this point I was not feeling discouraged, I was feeling dejected. What seemed so promising yesterday was not looking good at all now. I decided to head back to my truck, which was about three miles away, and I got there at about 9:43. I looked at my map again and thought about trying a completely new part of this 12,000 acre hunting area, and that just seemed like starting all over again. I decided to use my pack for a pillow and took a nap in the bed of my truck for two hours, I was beat.
I got up, made some lunch and sat on the tail gate thinking about what to do next. I hadn’t heard any shots all day, and it seemed to me like the hunters were just pushing the deer all over the place, or the deer were staying down in good hiding places. I decided that I would put on one more hunt in this area since I only had about five hours of daylight left. I planned to go back to my spot below the bluff, to be there by 3:00 PM, and sit there until dark.
I found a place on the sandy hillside to settle in, took out my binoculars, and started scanning the area. Yesterday those two does came out right at 4:00, but then again there weren’t all of these hunters walking around. At 4:30 I heard something above me on the plateau, and I crept up to the ridge line to see what it was. Just as I crested the bluff I saw a guy 20 yards away pointing his rifle at me. I said “Hey! What are you doing!” He said “Oh, sorry, I heard something and I didn’t know what it was.” I said “Then why are you pointing your rifle at something that you don’t know what it is?! That’s how people get killed!” I was pissed! I hate hunters who aim at sounds; you should never point your weapon at something until you know what it is and are prepared to kill it.
That was the last straw for me after a long day. I decided to stay there until dark and see if anything came by, but nothing did, which was not surprising. After the sun set and it was too dark to shoot, I headed back to my truck. On the drive back to Limon I debated about what I want to do tomorrow. If I want to try a new area, I don’t want to do that in the dark before sunrise, plus I have a couple of injuries that were bothering me after three days of this, so I think I am going to pass on the morning hunt tomorrow.
I will study my map and try to find a different place to go tomorrow, but I am not very optimistic. I don’t mean to slam rifle hunters, but this just seems to be too many hunters in an area that is only 12,000 acres. I am used to hunting in the wilderness, where you can go days without seeing another person. Maybe it’s just me and what I am used to, but hunting today wasn’t so much fun. I’ll figure something out for tomorrow.