Deer Hunting in Eastern Colorado Part II
As promised, I need to tell the rest of the story about my Colorado plains archery hunt for whitetail deer that I took last week. I wrote about the first part of that trip, which you can read by clicking here; it was brutally cold with strong winds howling from the south. Friday was much better, it was 7 degrees when I left my truck in the pre-dawn, and it warmed up to the mid 20’s during the day. The wind seemed even stronger on that day, so I am not sure what the temperature was with the wind chill factor, but I was dressed well for the hunt. I had many layers of high-quality clothing, from head to toe, and I was quite comfortable for the entire hunt.
The area I was hunting was a beautiful expanse of high plains, hills, gullies, and deep trenches of dry creeks that were choked with cattails and underbrush. Looking across the area from my truck when I first saw the wildlife area (see a video here) I would not have expected the diversity in the terrain that I would discover on foot. What appeared to be a bleak prairie turned out to be a very intricate ecosystem of coulees, ravines, ridges, drainages, and small lakes that provided excellent habitat for many birds and animals. I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this place, and even though I was there to hunt deer, I kept thinking about all of the other game opportunities that exist at this place, like waterfowl, upland birds, rabbits, and even ice fishing. See another video here. I think I have found a new place to spend some time.
On my final day of hunting I parked my truck and was on the ground at 5:00 AM. There was a drainage to the south that I wanted to hunt that went on for about a mile, so I set out to hunt the west side of it as the sun burned pink cotton balls in the sky. As light came I kept on the path I was taking, following the drainage upwards, and being as silent as I could in the crunchy snow on the ground with a frozen crust from the night before. After about an hour I was not finding anything but some tracks. See a video here. I felt somewhat dejected and started back down the drainage to hunt the northern side, about a two mile area that looked promising. I stopped at my truck to replenish the water in my camel back, and get off of my feet for a few minutes while I glassed the area I was about to hunt.
It was a long ravine, with steep hill sides and dense vegetation in the pit of the terrain. There were a few pockets of thick brush in indentations along the western hillside that looked promising, but the wind was coming from the south, so I knew that was going to be a problem. I decided to go through the ravine up stream, knowing that the wind was at my back, for about a quarter mile, and then I went quickly higher up on the west ridge to see if I had moved any deer.
The strategy worked, and I saw a large buck canter off into a pocket of dense brush on the other side of the draw. All I saw in my binoculars was a big rack, but I couldn’t tell at first if it was a mule deer or a white tail. At first glance, I was pretty sure it was a mule deer, but because my tag was for a whitetail, I made myself think that I had a chance. But after further observation of the deer as he settled into a safe area across the valley beneath a thicket of cedars, I could clearly see that he was a mule deer, with a very nice 4×4 rack. From a quarter mile away I watched him, he was still wary of my presence, what a majestic animal!
While I knew that I could not shoot this deer, I wanted to see how close I could get to him. I literally crawled on the ground to get behind the ridge I was on so that I could hike around to get behind him, which was about a half-mile. After I crawled over the ridge to get out of his sight, I hiked quietly along the north side of the opposite ridge until I came up behind him. I inched my way over the ground until I came to see him, twenty yards away from me, with a perfect shot with my bow. He didn’t even know I was there, and that is how it ended. I rustled in my pocket for my camera to get a picture of him, and he took off at the sound.
To me, that was a successful hunt. I didn’t bring home a deer, but I certainly could have if that buck were a whitetail. But more importantly, it’s all about the hunt, and the experience. That was one of the greatest moments of hunting that I will always remember, even though I never pulled the string on my bow.