Flat Tops Rain Forest: A weeks worth of pictures

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The past week was an eye-opener for the Bayou Bushmen.  We THOUGHT we were Great White Hunters and adequate Mountain-Men but, we bit off a little more than we were completely comfortable chewing.  In fact, there was nothing comfortable about the experience.  Don’t get me wrong, it was very fun, just also very hard.  First off, the outfit that rented us horses forgot to bring us the pack bags so, we had to rig up our gear on the saddles real Clampett-style.  We packed in the day before the season opened and, of course we had elk all around us. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.  Even 8 miles deep into the Wilderness Area (no motorized vehicles of any kind allowed) and 12000 feet above sea level, there were plenty of hunters and worse, granola crunching hippy hikers.  I didn’t see the hikers haul the keg in but, they definitely had a keg party every night smack dab in the middle of elk country.  Hooping and Hollering until they finally passed out.

Opening morning we glassed the area and the herd that was a quarter mile from camp at sundown was on the complete opposite end of the valley and as far away from the Hippy Camp as they could get.  Being Labor Day Weekend, there was no shortage of hunters either – DIYers and Outfitters with clients.

My brother who was hobbled by a nasty blister and I made our way up to the top of Derby Peak on the horses and glassed the valley below the morning of the first day.  We spotted a nice herd of elk almost directly below us that had to nice shooter bulls.  We tried our best to make it the 1,500 feet down to them only to hit a sheer drop-off at the last 100 feet of the decent. We had no choice but to head back up the steep draw back to camp.  3 days later we finally made it to the spot we had glassed the herd only to find weathered tracks and sappy rubs.

It was a hard week for us lowlanders.  It rained & hailed with thunder and lightning every single day making it impossible to keep our gear and more crucially our feet dry. The mountains, although one of the least rugged areas we could have chose to hunt in Colorado, were more than we could stomp around on for 8 straight days. By day 5 we were physically drained and could only muster one good hunt per day.

After that first weekend, all the hunters successfully turned most of the bulls nocturnal.  Even after the weekend was over and a camp change, we still ran into 10 hunters in one day on Tuesday.  I don’t mean to complain.  It’s just that we had read article after article that claimed that we could avoid other hunters by getting miles and miles off of the trail…Not-the-Case.

All in all, we had a great trip and alot of fun.  We were definitely disappointed with the way the hunting turned out but, we learned a thing or two and will be back at it next September.  Here are some pictures and a few stories from the hunt.  On a better note, my sister, Jessica, killed a bull in Idaho this week and we can’t be more proud of her.  Stay tuned for the article on that adventure.

Packing in.

Packing in.

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Middle Derby Valley from our first camp location at Deer Lake.

Middle Derby Valley from our first camp location at Deer Lake.

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Middle Derby Valley Sunrise

Middle Derby Valley Sunrise

Headed up to Derby peak to glass on the first day of elk season.

Headed up to Derby peak to glass on the first day of elk season.

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Travis and the horses

Travis and the horses

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Check out Travis’ Lacrosse boots. I wore mine too. Old bonds are hard to break.

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Looking South from Derby Mountain

Looking South from Derby Mountain

Hooper and Keener Lakes

Hooper and Keener Lakes

Travis glassing for elk

Travis glassing for elk

Elk herd we spotted from Derby Mountain.  They were just below us but, we had to ride 15 miles around to get to them.

Elk herd we spotted from Derby Mountain. They were just below us but, we had to ride 15 miles around to get to them.

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Travis' horse Sassy Fras

Travis’ horse Sassy Fras

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Like everything that went on this trip, the Alpine Archery soft bow case that Travis is digging in which was borrowed from his sister, Jessica, aged about 10 years in one week. Sorry, Jess.

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Double Rainbow after a nice downpour on day 3.  Glad God reminded us that he would never flood the earth again because, it sure seemed like he was doing it.

Double Rainbow after a nice downpour on day 3. Glad God reminded us that he would never flood the earth again because, it sure seemed like he was doing it.

A few mule deer we ran across as we moved camp.

A few mule deer we ran across as we moved camp.

Ducks on Mud Lake

Ducks on Mud Lake

Where Travis & I glassed the herd of elk a few days before.

Where Travis & I glassed the herd of elk a few days before.

Grouse roasting on an open fire.  We killed enough to eat 1 or 2 every day.  It was a nice addition to our freeze dried meals and MREs.

Grouse roasting on an open fire. We killed enough to eat 1 or 2 every day. It was a nice addition to our freeze dried meals and MREs.

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This is Derby Mountain where Travis & I were glassing from.This is Derby Mountain where Travis & I were glassing from.

Midday nap before a brutal journey with the horses back to camp.  We got back 3 hours after dark.

Midday nap before a brutal journey with the horses back to camp. We got back 3 hours after dark.

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Chipmunk (Timber Tiger)

Chipmunk (Timber Tiger)

Matt's horse, LB.  We figured out LB stood for "Lucifer's Bronco." He refused to ride without the other horses along and bucked off and bit Matt multiple times.

Matt’s horse, LB. We figured out LB stood for “Lucifer’s Bronco.” He refused to ride without the other horses along and bucked off and bit Matt multiple times.

Matt's Eagle Nest Outfitters Hammock.  We chose to sleep in these instead of tents.  They are more comfortable and pack down to the size of Grapefruit.

Matt’s Eagle Nest Outfitters Hammock. We chose to sleep in these instead of tents. They are more comfortable and pack down to the size of Grapefruit.

Mud Lake

Mud Lake

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Packing to camp location #3.

Packing to camp location #3.

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Crossing the South Fork of the White River.

Crossing the South Fork of the White River.

My horse, Beano, wallowing on the ground.  Luckily it was after the saddle and bowcase were removed.  Travis and Matt weren't so lucky.

My horse, Beano, wallowing on the ground. Luckily it was after the saddle and bowcase were removed. Travis and Matt weren’t so lucky.

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