"Colorado" Elk

in outdoors •  last year

Over Labor Day weekend I had to drive from Salt Lake to Denver

because my brother was moving there and since he doesn't have a truck I was

enlisted to haul all the heavy stuff. I guess when I got my truck I didn’t put the

“Yes it’s my truck, no I won’t help you move” bumper sticker on it quick enough.

So to make the best of a bad situation I called my buddy Bullfrog up and talked

him into going with me, he had never been east of the Utah border and I told him

Colorado was beautiful country and we would drive back through the north

eastern Uintas which is where we drew our elk tags for October. So the

moving trip became a hunt scouting trip and he was instantly on board.

Saturday morning we loaded up the trailer and our camping gear in the

back of my truck and headed east, on I-80 from Salt Lake and then cutting over

on Highway 40 since I have driven through Wyoming enough to know there is

nothing to see but sage brush, windmills, and fireworks stands from the Interstate

and the Colorado River along I-70 seemed much more appealing. Later on when

we got to that part of the drive we were rewarded with amazing views of the

Rockies, there were anglers down in the river fly fishing, people tubing, and

outfitters in drift boats looking for the fish that seemed to be getting the upper

hand that evening. Most of the leaves had not started to change yet but

every so often there was one tree all on its own that had decided for some

unknown reason it was done with green for the year and had turned bright yellow

or a deep orange and I even saw a few dark red ones. Seeing just a splash of

contrasting color in the already brilliant greens of the canyon walls made the 11

hour drive worth it.

Anyway I digress, as we were leaving Dinosaur Colorado I missed the

turn I was supposed to take south to I-70 because what looked like a major road

on the map looked like a cattle path as I passed by it, either that or we were to

busy singing along to Chris LeDoux that I just blew right past it. Either way after

going about another thirty miles it seemed as if we had gone to far so I turned on

the next road headed south and then checked my map and GPS to see just

where we had ended up. Well it appeared the road I was on was Hwy 13 and

headed right into Rifle and from there we could take I-70 straight into Denver. I

thanked god that I didn't have to turn around and go back, and for “making those

horses that buck” then headed south.

Once on this road I decided that all of this state must be beautiful, there

were small ranch houses with cut hay fields all over but right where the fields

ended magnificent pine trees shot into the sky. The pine trees were only broken

up by massive rock formations that made voids in the pine carpet on the

mountain slopes. I was thinking about how great it would be to live in a place like

this the air was clean and nature was still wild and right there up next to

civilization, there is no buffer zone just houses, buildings, fields, and then forest

the way things should be laid out everywhere in my opinion.

Right before we got to this breathtaking valley there was a open

sagebrush plain on the west side of the road that didn’t really have any

outstanding features that I could make out so I was thinking about “riding a black

tornado across the Texas sky” and not paying much attention to my

surroundings. If you are wondering why Chris LeDoux is still playing, well Bullfrog

brought his iPod with over five thousand songs and over three hundred of them

were from Mr LeDoux so we decided on a music marathon in his memory which

was a much better plan than what we did on the way back which was put the

whole thing on shuffle. I heard more Spice Girls and Vanilla Ice than I ever

wanted to and I hit the skip button as soon as they came on!

I was interrupted in mid chorus by Bullfrog hitting my arm and saying

“Stop the truck and give me your binoculars!” So as I almost jackknifed the trailer

behind me as we skidded onto the gravel shoulder I somehow reached into the

back seat and handed him my 10x42’s and as soon as we dropped below 5 mph

he was out the door and running back a the way we came. I figured since he was

occupied with whatever he was doing I would go out behind the truck and get rid

of all the iced tea I had since we crossed the state line. As I was walking back to

check the trailer he came walking back looking quite disheartened. So I asked

“What did you see out there?” “Aww nothing, I just thought I saw some Elk.” he

replied. Well judging by the way he made me stop and the smile on his face I

knew there had to be something out there that evidently wasn’t an Elk so I took

my binoculars from him and looked out in the field, I saw some amazing wildlife

alright a herd of about twelve pronghorns including a nice size buck looking right

at us. So I turned to Bullfrog and while trying to keep a straight face said “Well I

guess Elk must look different in Colorado, I’m sure glad the ones in Utah have

bigger racks.” We saw quite a few more “Colorado Elk” in the sagebrush desert

of Wyoming on the way back to Utah and of course I always had to point them

out to Bullfrog, even if it did interrupt a Sir-Mix- Alot song.

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