For any keen deer hunter, the opportunity to hunt Elk would have to be a dream that is often thought of, yet the expense, time and distance required to do so are often a sticking point. When an opportunity  was proposed to me in early May 2010 to participate in a Elk hunt in Colorado USA through the generosity of both my boss Luca - at Beretta Australia and Burris optics USA, I seriously could not believe my luck. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity.

           After supplying all my documentation for my travel arrangements, USA Visa and  Elk tag , the waiting game began for October 13th 2010 for my departure to the good old US of A. When the date finally arrived, I was soon finding myself on a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles, with a connecting flight to Denver Colorado to immediately follow. At Denver airport,  Martin Coe (Managing director of Beretta New Zealand, who I met up with on the flight to Denver from LA and also hunting Elk with Burris) and I were warmly greeted by one of the Burris guys (his name was also Martin) who kindly drove us to Greeley Colorado, the home of the Burris optics headquarters and production plant. We got checked into a lovely bed and breakfast place called the Greeley Guest House, which put simply, was a outstanding and comfortable boutique style motel rooms that was probably better than any place I had ever stayed. Also conveniently, it is situated within a few hundred meters of the Burris Headquarters.
Arrangements were made for dinner that night at the “Texas Steakhouse” with a few of the senior executives of Burris and there we discussed the upcoming hunt over a big steak and some American beer.

           The next day we were taken for a tour of the Burris production plant. Here we were introduced to a couple of guys that were going to also participate on the hunt. Robert Arrington - who is the host and executive producer of a  TV show for the Sportsman Channel in the US called ‘Respect Outdoors’ along with his cameraman John, were also there to not only film the way Burris produce rifle scopes and scope mounts as part of their show, they were also going to join us on the hunt for Elk from go to whoa and film the entire adventure for one of their upcoming shows. Somehow Robert seemed to take a liking to my Australian accent and wanted my hunt to feature in the show. I was a little reluctant at first as I felt that these guys may interfere with my hunt and somehow put a bit of pressure on me, certainly I felt that the extra 2 guys tagging along may make getting a shot at a nice Bull that much harder. As it turned out I had nothing to fear as both Robert and John were not only professionals at their jobs, they were also accomplished hunters who new exactly what was required to make the hunt a success.

            Whilst touring the Burris factory, it became obvious to me the amount of detail and effort that went into the making of every riflescope and every set of rings and bases. Attention to detail, quality control and the tedious procedure of testing the scopes for leakage, recoil resistance and parallax through their facility was a real pleasure to see. The making of a set of scope ring also was amazing as each and every set are made from a one piece slab of steel, milled out, then polished and blued  - before packaging- keeping the two halves of the ring together for the whole duration of the process, so each and every ring is perfectly matching.

           Whilst on the subject of Burris riflescopes, Burris had recently invented the most unique riflescope I had ever seen (and shortly thereafter  - used) called the “Eliminator“! The Burris Eliminator riflescope really needs to be used at the range and the field to really, really appreciate what this scope can do for your long range hunting! To put it simply, this scope is a 4 x 12 Laser Range finding scope, that not only tells you the precise distance to your target, it then calculates in under a second - where the precise hold over is by illuminating a red dot on the vertical line of the reticule. Obviously different distances will illuminate a different dot, allowing you to then take a shot by using the illuminated dot as the aim point.
You just push a button, it ranges the distance (in yards or meters)  - it then illuminates a dot for you to place on the target  - then pull the trigger.
Each calibre and  bullet weight are different, therefore Burris also provide with the instruction manual a list of over 700 different factory cartridges enabling you to program the scope to the ammunition that you use. Without getting bogged down on the detail, (I will leave that to a few review writers to do), the Eliminator scope will give you the confidence in taking a long range shot that would not even have been considered before. I know there is few tactical scopes available for the guys that calculated bullet drop, with there ballistic tables attached etc, etc. however this innovative new scope is making long-range shooting so straight forward, that once the scope is set to your ammunition, no more thought is required. Certainly, you still need to have the ability to shoot straight at long ranges, but the guess work of holdover and ranging your target has now been eliminated!

           After the tour of the factory, we had some lunch, then it was out to the range to familiarise ourselves with the rifles for the hunt and also a practice session on using the Eliminator scopes. The targets were set up at 100, 300, 400 and 500 yards, the targets being made of metal which were about 45 cm x 45 cm (18 inches x 18 inches) in size and hanging freely from a frame. Now let me tell you that I had never ever taken a shot at anything, not even at a rifle range - at a target at 500 yards (457 meters) away before, so I was a little apprehensive of being able to achieve a hit - but only because I had never tried before. I was given a Sako A7 rifle in 7mm Rem Mag, so I new the rifle was more than capable, its wether the scope and shooter could do their bit.

           I set up on a bench, using the ammunition this scope and rifle combination had now been programmed for: Hornady 139 GMX factory ammo. I decided to go for broke and shoot at the furthest target first - 500 yards! I settled in behind the rifle, looked through the scope set on 12 x and found the tiny target in the field of view. I pressed the main function button on the scope and  within about a second it revealed the distance (500 Yards).The scope immediately then lit up a  red dot on the vertical line of the reticule - quite some distance below the horizontal line. I then held this dot exactly in the centre of the target as steady as I possibly could and touched off the shot. Either Martin or Brian, from  Burris  who were watching through a spotting scope, called “bullseye” - before I came out of recoil, then I notice the target swinging followed by a audible “ding” as the bullet had struck the target! I was stoked. Martin said “Tony, you hit that sucker dead centre, exactly in the centre of the target - great shot!” He was certainly excited and I too had to contain myself and pretend that this was a run of the mill thing for me - hitting a bullseye at 500 yards - yeah right!!!

           I proceeded to repeat my good shooting efforts at 400, 300 and 100 yards, with the dot illuminating on a different part of the vertical reticule each time (at 100 yards it obviously lit up in the centre). I could not believe how much confidence this scope had given me at all these ranges, and I can certainly say right there and then that taking a shot beyond 300 meters at a game animal was something I would never had previously attempted or even considered, but I now felt confident of taking this kind of shot if need be with this set up.
It is all well and good to shoot accurately from a range bench, so the guys said that now the real test begins and I had to sit on the ground and take the same shots off a set of shooting sticks. Needless to say I never missed the target once - even from this less than comfortable position and my confidence was now sky high thanks to the Burris Eliminator scope (having a accurate rifle like a Sako certainly helps as well). The other hunters also had good success with the Eliminator (but not as good as this Aussie sharp shooter I may add), and we were all now set for our journey the next day, high up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to hunt Elk.

Some signs in the country town to make any hunter feel welcome - God I wish we could have this culture......


           We left Greeley at the crack of dawn with a 4 to 5 hour journey in front of us. I have to say that the vehicles that the American hunters drive around in, certainly provide power, strength, luxury and size, putting even our larger Land cruiser size vehicles to shame in comparison, although I am certain in real hard terrain the Land cruiser may indeed perform better as these pick up’s had such a long wheel base that it is amazing they can even manoeuvre the bush tracks and not constantly get hung up. Massive V8 engines in these pickups, guzzling fuel at a rate of knots, was of little concern to the owners who were more interested in power and size. Mind you, the cost of Gasoline was around $2.75 a gallon there, compares to our $4.94 per gallon (Gallon  = 3.8 litres x $1.30 per litre ).


           We powered out of Greeley, heading to the Rockies at about 7 am,  loaded up with our personal hunting gear, along with the borrowed rifles and scopes. We stopped to refuel in a tiny “outback” town by the name of Waldron, where I grabbed a T-shirt as a souvenir, as almost every bit of tourist items for sale featured a picture of an Elk on it! We continued on to the Ski resort township of Steamboat Springs, a rather large town where we stopped for lunch and our last supplies before moving onto the hunting camp. It was obviously a late start to the Autumn (Fall) season as little snow was around, however as in most mountain country that can easily change at the drop of a hat. Nevertheless, it was surprisingly sunny and mild for this time of year. 26 miles on ( about 40 Km) we passed through a small township of Oak Creek, turning off onto a gravel road, that would lead us to the hunting property.          

           The Burris Company had a contact through a relative to access the private cattle farm, which doubled as a outfitting ranch during the Hunting season. The outfitter and guide  - Brad Carnahan, together with his wife Brenda, own and operate Trout Creek Elk Hunts, and if there is a more picturesque part of the world, well I am yet to see it. We were shown the way to the Elk camp that would be our home for the next 4 days. The log cabin, nestled in a sheltered gully, was surrounded by hills and mountains and although basic, it would provide a comfortable place to eat, sleep and relax at days end. The property is 100% free range hunting and although this area has a huge Elk population (I saw a bout 250 Elk during my stay), there was no guarantee’s of taking a bull Elk, yet Brad was going to do his best to get everybody to fill their tags. Now this was not going to be easy - especially for Brad as there was  9 hunters in camp with tags to fill. The reason for the high number is that there were 4 guests of Burris’s (Martin from N.Z. A customer from Louisiana and another from Texas - both named Chris, plus myself) then there were 3 executives from Burris - Steve, Brian and Tanveer (plus Brian’s 12 year old son, Broadie who was to shoot his first ever Elk) then offcourse Robert Arrington the TV guy. Yes 9 tags in total to try and fill!

           The elevation we were at was around the 9000 ft mark and there is absolutely no doubt that the thin air at this altitude affects the breathing, especially when you are carrying heaps of extra kilo’s like me!! Whist we were waiting for the rest of the hunting party to arrive, I decided to go for a quick scout with the Steiner binoculars to seen if I could locate anything of interest. I walked about 80 meters up a hill from the cabin, to see if the view from there provided any vantage points, only to find how difficult it was to climb even that short distance, bloody hell this was going to be a lot tougher than I first thought. glassed for about an hour without and sighting as it was early afternoon and it was surprisingly warm. I did notice however large clumps of pellets (bit bigger than our sambar) and even came across some old bear poo, very dark in colour with a few berries mixed in - this quickly reminded me of the fact that I left the rifle in camp, and it would be a great idea to return there just in case a bear decided to venture out nearby.

           The rest of the hunting party soon arrived, and after sorting out who was going to sleep where, we unpacked our gear, grabbed our binoculars and all went out for a late afternoon scouting mission by vehicle, just to locate some Elk and get the hopes up for the coming days. It didn’t take long to finally see some Elk, as I must say their light coloured and large bodies do stand out when in the open. Bulls however were proving hard to locate, then almost on dark I notice three animals about a mile away right on the skyline carrying antlers on their heads. The front two started sparring, even though the major part of the rut was virtually over, the third bull however - even at this distance, was a distinct mature bull, as even with his head down, his antler’s raked back well behind his withers. What a sight, this was certainly going to make sleep that night difficult.

           The atmosphere at the dinner table that night was a certainly of high expectation, and plans were hatched as to where we would hunt the following day and who was to team up with whom. A couple of the Burris guys would act as guides and would hold off taking a bull until the “guests” had filled their tags. Basically we were going to hunt in 3 different parties and Brad (head guide) and his brother Ted would accompany two of the groups, whilst Brian from Burris (who knows the place very well after hunting their for the past 6 years) would take the third group. We had well over 3200 acres of prime Elk mountain habitat to hunt with numerous gullies (draws) to explore. On top of this the property was surrounded on the south side by public forest that also harboured numerous Elk, and a lot would venture onto the property once the hunting pressure from the public land hunters got amongst the woods.

           Many funny stories and past hunts were discussed over our Elk roast dinner that evening, yet the life of the party was by far the TV guy, Robert. I have to say on first meeting this 6 ft 4” TV star, I thought, bloody typical yank, knows everything, talks loud, very much a ‘look at me’ type personality (hence perfectly suited for TV) and this guys is going to annoy me all week long. Well I am happy to say here and now what a absolute pleasure it was to have this guy in camp. Robert  (and his cameraman John) worked their hearts out to make the hunt not only enjoyable but a trip to remember with their light-hearted humour, along with their experience and knowledge in all thing hunting and fishing. They climbed mountains everyday, trying to get almost everybody’s hunt on film, even after they had taken their own bull, they continued to get up at 4.30 am to continue filming. Not shirking any of the workload either in helping with the skinning, butchering and carryout of ALL the Elk taken. This guy seriously is a modern day Tarzan and although he may have initially came across as a loud know it all, nothing could be further from the truth as he just has that sort of personality tailor made for TV, he was the life of the party. If you have a few minutes to spare, just Google his name “Robert Arrington  - Respect Outdoors” and see some of the You Tube footage of his fishing and hunts - one in particular where he spears a marlin 25 miles out to sea - and has to wrestle this thing 65 ft under water  - unbelievable!!  After a few tall stories and a few cold ales consumed after dinner, we made our way to our beds, prepared our gear for a early start (read 4.30 am) the next morning. In just over 5 hours time the hunt for a Elk bull was to begin.

           It was a pretty restless night, with a few of the guys sounding like chainsaws whilst trying to suck the thin air through their nostrils whilst sleeping. On top of the fact that I was probably still a bit jet lagged and not to mention the fact that I was about to embark on a ELK HUNT!!!
At 4.30 am there was plenty of commotion as everybody scrambled to get there thermal gear on, have a quick breakfast, load their packs and head off into the darkness to try to get into position before sun up.

           There was 5 guys in our party, guide Ted, Steve from Burris also assisting as a guide, Martin from Beretta New Zealand, myself and also John the cameraman to try and capture the hunt on film.. We climbed directly uphill from the cabin,  nobody had taken a torch except me, yet I was getting dirty looks from Steve and Ted regarding the light as they obviously wanted to ascend the mountain in darkness as to not spook and elk on our way up. During one of our many breather’s climbing the hill in mostly darkness (except my torch), Ted approached me and whispered “ Tony can I take a look at that torch? “ I handed him my torch, thinking he wanted to use it up front, as I was a bit behind Ted and Steve. After examining it for a moment, he then tossed something into the bushes , turned around and then continued up the mountain in the darkness. Shit, that was a expensive Pelican brand torch that I purchased just for this hunt. Oh well, I rather get a nice Elk than worry about my torch, yet he could have just said to put it away and I would have.  We ploughed on up the hill, stopping again for another breather 5 minutes later. Ted walked over to me with a wiry smile on his face - then surprisingly handed me back my torch. The  cheeky bugger had a rock or stick in his hand and had thrown that into the scrub, letting me think it was my quality torch that he had tossed away in the darkness. Besides the relief of having the torch back, I now realised that these guys had a great sense of humour and stirring the pot with us was just a small part of keeping us entertained. Nevertheless, the torch went into my pack, not to be used again !!

          To the east the sun was barely making a appearance, and now we had finally made it to the ridgeline high above the gullies  (draws) below. Occasionally I could smell the distinct smell of a deer/Elk that must have crossed the track sometime before us, and I must say it was not dissimilar to the smell of our own Red deer during the rut. As a few strays of light appeared on the eastern horizon, a few coyotes’ began their howling that reverberated around the mountain side. This was making my hair stand on end as it was great to be standing on top of the ridge listening to the music produce by the native wildlife. The cameraman John, wanted to film the stray light from the sun rising and record the howling at the same time , to use in the hunting show. He then interviewed me on my thoughts of the terrain and surroundings so far - and why were we here. I cant remember my exact reply, but I am sure my excitement was there to be heard within my answer.

           It was now just light enough to see, and we started saddling around the top of the ridge to get in position to glass the draw below us. Ted explained that some Elk should be making there way back up to some bedding areas below us, however we will only get glimpses of them as the sage bush scrub below is surprisingly high and can easily conceal these massive deer. We all took a seat in various vantage points, whilst Ted explained where he expected the Elk to appear. He told us to prepare for a long shot, get the shooting sticks ready and he would tell us wether to shoot or not. Elk bulls need to have at least 4 points a side to make them legal, so we needed to get the ok before firing. Because there were so many hunters here to fill their tags on this 4 day hunt, we were not really in a position to pass up any legal bulls as they just wanted us to fill the tags. This was a little disappointing for me as I was keen to take home a respectable trophy. Mind you even a small 4 x 4 Elk bull looks bigger than most Red stags, and considering this was a hunt that was ‘gifted’ to me - I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. It wasn’t long before some cow Elks appeared crossing below us (about 400 yards away) into some sage bush, disappearing not to be seen again. No bulls were with them however, so we continued to glass for the rest of the morning with no further sightings. John soon spotted a Mule deer buck however, and this guy was a monster! Unfortunately nobody had a Mule deer tag, plus he was well over a mile away on a distant spur, so we just watched him for some time until he made his way back into the Aspen tree line.


           We decided to head to a different vantage point, as stalking the thicker bedding areas would be counter productive - as leaving scent everywhere would send a lot of the Elk out of the valley, therefore this hunt from afar style was the best chance to get us all a bull. However, the rest of the day slowly passed with surprisingly no more sightings, although we did hear a Bull bugling in the adjoining valley very late in the afternoon,  it was too late to get there for a look and we soon heard a  shot fired coming from that position - hopefully it was one of our guys.
Nevertheless, with the lack of bull sightings today by us, I really felt that there will most likely be a few people leaving this hunt at weeks end without having their tags filled.  We walked down the draw and around the spur in the dark making our way to the cabin. We walked about 5 miles for the day, and although not overly tired from the climb in the morning, as we rested through most of the day, I really didn’t feel too pumped about climbing  a new mountain all over again the next morning.

           We arrived back at camp to some good news however, as 2 of the hunters had grassed a bull Elk ! Now until you see one of these beast up close and at you feet I don‘t think you can fully appreciate the sheer size of animal. Chris form Louisiana and Tanveer from Burris (who had moved to the US from the UK to work for Burris 6 months previously and done literally no hunting before) had both shot there Elk at ridiculous long distances. Chris’s bull was taken at about 450 yards and required a few follow up shots - all filmed by Robert and was a 6 x 5 bull . If I was lucky enough to get anything like this beast, I would be over the moon. Tanveer’s animal was much smaller in antler, as it was a 4 x 4, yet it would still have been bigger than most of the Red deer shot in Australia. Tanveer had made a stalk on his first ever bull with the help of master guide Brad (Teds younger brother), after hearing him Bugle (the one we heard earlier), yet this guy was still taken at 275 yards, with one shot straight through the heart - both guys were using the Eliminator scopes on their rifles. The Elk were retrieved out of the scrub in one piece by Brad after going back and to the homestead and using a four wheeler quad bike. Considering that these Elk were even bigger than our Sambar, this was certainly no easy feat, yet Brad had this down pat and said that in the last 6 years, he only once had to quarter a Elk to get it out, as every other he was able to get a quad either to the Elk or the Elk to the Quad.. No part of the carcass except for the gut is left behind as the entire beast is utilised.

           After celebrating the good fortune of Chris and Tanveer, straight after dinner that night, we once again made plans for the following days hunt. Brad, who knows the place better than anybody and has guided Elk, black bear and mule deer hunts on this property for about 25 years, structured the plan of attack. He needed two guys that were capable of taking  500 yard shots to go with him to his “Christmas Tree” as at this vantage point many elk would be seen, yet shots of up to 500 yards were common. Nobody really put their hand up, so the Burris guys volunteered me, as they felt that my performance at the range was better than anybody else and they certainly had more confidence in me - than me - in taking a shot from that position. Robert wanted to have this on film for the show, so both  he and John we to join Brad and I. Brads 9 year old son Tait, also accompanied us, and seriously this kid was like a mountain goat, bounding up and down the Elk trails like nothing I had ever seen before.

           The 4.30 am commotion  was repeated once again, but this time my hunting party had a different look with a different location. We walked from the main farmhouse, through the floor of a valley, hearing the occasional bugle in the pitch darkness, marching along, not looking further than a few meter in front at time. Brad had warned me that this would be a long walk in, easy at first then a couple of gut busting climbs to get near the “Xmas Tree”. I never complained the whole walk in but my lungs were screaming for me to stop on the uphill sojourns. It was slightly becoming light on the eastern horizon, and Brad would keep encouraging me to rest for only 10 seconds at a time as to keep my heart rate up. “we have to make it to the ‘tree’ as quick as possible Tony, as the Elk will show themselves just after dawn, common lets hurry!” I sucked in some more air and powered on as best as I could. Both Robert and John just kept marching on without complaint as they must have done this time and time again. Even young Tait would hang back and wait for me, giving me inspiration that if this 9 year old could do it surely I could!

           Day break was now upon us yet we still had a bit further to go, although the worst of the climb (for now) was almost over. Brian from Burris along with his 12 year old son Broadie were hunting the valley below us, and Brad wanted to be in position at the now famous Xmas tree in case Brian and son took a shot or put any Elk up. We were only a few hundred meters from the tree when a shot rang out from the valley below. Brad quickly grabbed my arm and said “Quick lets go , we need to get to the Tree!!” we ran forward, dropped of the top of a saddle, then soon arrived a lone pine tree. From this vantage point  the surrounding gullies full of Aspen  and Spruce pine tree’s all seamed to funnel into a basin in front of us, and there was no doubt that this area would hold more elk than anywhere else on the property. Brad had named this area ‘The Burn’ as your lungs and the lactic acid in your thighs and calves would ‘burn’ whist making the assent to this location.

           It wasn’t long before Elk started to appear across the gullies. Brad said to get into a position to shoot, but this time I wanted to shoot prone off my backpack along with my Swazi jacket rolled up as a rest. I settled down on my ample gut, trying to get comfortable in case a bull presented itself. I was ranging all the different distance with the Eliminator, the furthest open spot being the top of a knoll on the horizon that ranged in at 540 yards. The closer shots would be just under  250 yards, hopefully if a bull came into view, it would be at the latter distance. Brad and Tait were spotting Elk left, right and centre out in the basin, yet these animals were a least a mile away. Brad said that three weeks ago during the rut, (which is during the archery season) he could hear at least 40 to 50 bulls bugling in the basin below. Just hearing a few very occasionally was absolutely magic, so I can only begin to imagine what that must be like during the peak of the rut.

           We had been glassing for a while with a few younger bulls following cows about, I did explain to Brad that I really wanted to take home a nice bull, and although I wasn’t trying to be fussy, I was hoping to shoot a respectable bull. Brad assured me that I didn’t have to take any bull and he was happy to get working to get me a half decent one. After being under the Xmas Tree for about an hour now, still lying on my belly, with the Sako A7 resting on my pack and jacket, Robert announced that there was a herd of Elk coming over the knoll on the horizon. Brad spotted the big bull first and said “Tony,  there is nice bull there, get ready to shoot!“ I put the cross hairs of the Burris Eliminator on the lead cow and she ranged 525 yards, a dot lit up on the reticule (it remains lit for 90 seconds or until another range is activated). Then I noticed the bull come into view in the scope and he was following about 15 cows down the knoll getting slightly closer.

           All the Elk stopped momentarily, so I placed the dot on the Bulls shoulder, held steady, then fired. The bullet kicked up dust just over the Bulls back, and I have to say that I was surprised that I had missed. They headed quickly the way they had came, heading back over the top. Bloody hell, I really shouldn’t have missed, even though they were a long way away - about 430 yards at the time of the shot. It then dawned on me that the dot that I had illuminated on the scope was for 525 yards, and that I did not re  - range the animal as it got closer - hence the shot going high. Sometimes the hunting Gods do shine on you however, as just as quickly the herd could once again be seen, milling around at the top, not very keen to come back this way, yet something was stopping them from heading away as well. The same big Bull could be seen amongst the edge of the pines and I again ranged the animal. 540 yards was the reading as he stood broadside - unsure of which way to head.
I settled in again , thankfull for another opportunity, yet now the distance was even further. The lowest dot on the Eliminator reticule was now illuminated and I held the dot as steady as possible on the Big Bull Elk’s shoulder. I touched off the shot from the 7mm Rem Mag A7  - as recoil then prevented me from seeing the result.

           “You got him good Tony!” yelled Robert. “Dam straight you got him, I got it on film close up, he hunched up like a heart shot then lurched forward.” John confirmed from behind the camera. “ Mmm , I not real sure” said Brad. “Hell he was a long way away, if you got him , that one of the best shots I have ever seen". Brads 9 year old son Tait also though he saw the Elk lurch forward, and this kid has the best eye sight than any of us! I was not going to get to excited just yet. I felt reasonably comfortable about the shot, buy hey guys this is 540 yards were talking about and I certainly would hate to get all the way up to this spot  at the top of knoll without a dead elk on the ground. Brad said we will wait here for a while and see if any other Elk come out. This would give Robert a chance to take one as well from the Xmas tree if possible.

           We continued to see dozens of Elk over the next hour or 2 yet I found it hard to concentrate as I really wanted to see if this bull was down. A few smaller bulls did present themselves for Robert, yet Brad said to hold off as there are bigger bulls around. A strange thing then happened, as I was looking with the Steiner bino’s at the horizon where my elk was last seen, two hunters in their Blaze orange vests could be seen walking along. “Hey Brad, there is couple of hunters up there near where my bull was.” I said to him a little concerned now that these guys may be stealing it or otherwise. That’s interesting, they must be hunting on the other side which is past our boundary, and must have come to investigate the shots.
The Hunters were trying to look and see in our direction and as we were all wearing Blaze orange as well (law in Colorado). They started waving to us to get our attention. We watched them through the binoculars and one of the guys was making antler signs above his head, indicating that there was a bull down. He would then put his bino’s on us and we gave him the thumbs up.

           We decided to start heading over there as it was some time now since the shot and we needed to gut the bull and get him off the mountain if indeed he was down. We decided to leave most of the packs and binoculars under the Xmas tree, and only take a rifle and camera’s together with a couple of knives. This was going to take at least an hour to climb to where the Elk was hopefully laying and we would have to come past this point to retrieve our stuff anyhow on the return. Brad then said to me “Tony, do you have your empty cartridges?” I bent down and handed him to the 2 empty 7mm Hornady shells that I had fired. Brad then with a smile, slipped one of the cartridges onto a twig sticking out of the pine tree, and it was only then that it dawned on me why it was called the “Christmas Tree”. This spot had been the scene of many long shots on Elk over the years, and whenever someone had scored from here, the spent cartridge would be added to the tree. There would have been at least a dozen spent cartridges hanging on twigs in the tree and I was now proud to be included amongst this elite group of successful shooters.

           We Climbed and climbed for at least the next hour, finally hitting the spur that would lead to the area that my bull was standing in when I had fired. I must say I was pretty stuffed at this point, yet I knew that there was not much further to go. As we emerged out of the pines we looked up to see the two hunters hunched over a dead elk. My first thoughts were that they were working on my elk and this is going to end badly, however as it turned out, these guys had a shot a elk up on this ridge the evening before and working on their own bull, and as they were heading up to their downed bull this morning, they heard my first shot, then seen the herd of elk head over toward them - the elk then had spotted those two hunters, hence the reason they had come back into view for me to take the fatal shot. Talk about getting lucky. These guys had seen the whole thing unfold from over the hill from us and after the second shot, saw my elk get hit, then run a further 60 meters before piling up. I had shot this beast through the heart - at 540 yards, I couldn’t believe it. I could now also see my bull on the side of the hill about 100 meters away. Seriously I started shaking as even from here he looked big.


           The other hunters were unsure of how long we were going to be, so they had gutted my bull, knowing that we were so far away and the sun was starting to warm up. These guys had their own bull on the ground caped, quarter and ready for the carry out. I take my hat off to the Elk hunters whole retrieve the complete animal regardless how many trips they need to make to get it out. We made our way over towards my elk, Robert and John, directing me to go ahead as they filmed from the side as I approached. As I had seen both Tanveer’s and Chris’s elk from the evening before, I then knew that my beast was quite a bit bigger. He was missing his bay tines (that should be along side his brow tines) yet I couldn’t have cared less. 5 x 5 bull - It was a great animal for this Aussie hunter, and to had taken him at that distance had me glowing with pride. After heaps of photo’s and some further footage, we started the long trek back to the homestead to get the quad bike and try to get this guy out whole.


           We did manage to get the beast out whole, and it is back at the homestead that I took more photos with my phone, before the job of caping and butchering the animal were to begin. I happily caped the animal out myself and let the others continue their hunt as there was still a number of tags to fill. By the end of the week only one guy (Chris from Texas) didn’t get an elk, and I have to say he was the only guy there that did not have a Eliminator scope on his rifle, preferring to use a standard scope, yet obviously did not have the confidence in taking a long shot that was often required in this area. I have to once again thank Burris, Luca (my boss), Brad form Trout Creek Elk Hunts and his wife and lovely family for making this great hunt possible. As I type this I can seriously say that I certainly have plans to one day go back as seriously this was the sort of hunt that dreams are made of.


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