Elk Hunting in Colorado: Pursuing Majesty
December 7, 2023 •iSportsman Staff
When you meet people who enjoy and love the same interests as you a lifelong friendship is sure to follow. Upon meeting Sean on a spearfishing trip, he took to the Big Island (Hawaii island) it didn’t take long before we were sharing old stories and we couldn’t stop talking about how we needed to get into the woods with bow in tow during the next axis deer rut on his home island of Maui.
The months couldn’t fall off the calendar fast enough, but it was time to get packed and fly over. I invited my dad, who at the time was working so much and wasn’t able get to spend as much time out of the office than he would’ve liked. I threatened him with a good time and said “You have to go, no ifs, ands, or buts!!” and thanks to my mom’s words of encouragement we went.
The flight over to Maui takes about 35 minutes in a little eight seater plane. Flying Mokulele Airlines, you can’t get any better. Due to their plane size they fly pretty low, which allowed for my dad and I to scope the grounds that we were going to chase some spotted deer around for a few days. With anticipation running at an all-time high, we landed and were greeted at the gate by a smiling Sean and to the woods we went.
We started the first afternoon hunt shortly after we landed and it didn’t take long before my dad shot a nice doe. The plan was to harvest some meat before we got picky. Harvesting a few does always helps the heard and they’re a blast. After my dad’s clean harvest, it was my turn to try my luck on a doe.
Sean and I spotted a lone doe and the stalk was on. The doe fed behind a big rock which gave me an opportunity to close the distance rather quickly and as I notched my arrow, she stood at 18 yards. With two does down and the weight off our shoulders it was time to go look for ones with horns.
During the rut, the axis deer bucks make a roaring sound and like most roaring or screaming bulls or bucks, the low raspy ones tend to be the bigger, older bucks. After a morning of hearing them roaring everywhere and not being able to get my dad within bow range we gathered for lunch and set up a game plan for the afternoon.
Sean told us that there were some nice axis deer bucks being seen in a little draw and thought we should walk through slowly and keep our eyes open. As soon as we entered the draw, we heard one of the lowest roars we heard all trip, and instantly goose bumps grew as we waited to see what this monarch was going to look like.
Over a little bump, we saw the first of his does walk over at about 75 yards, which were then followed by a few immature bucks. Then he stepped out. It was the biggest buck I had ever seen and I was speechless. He followed his herd and stopped at 50 yards, and my dad drew. The buck took two steps and didn’t present a shot.
My dad was forced to let down and wait. At this time, the buck’s does were too close and busted us. The big buck turned and ran over the bump. I got up, out of desperation and ran to the top of the draw. I tried pushing the heard back to my dad and it worked! This time my dad got a 32 yard shot and we found the his beautiful buck laying still, not more than 100 yards later.
Then it was my turn to try and find a buck old enough to bring home. After looking over hundreds of deer, we found “the one” laying under a couple of big trees, in the middle of a pasture. The stalk was going to be a tough one as most of it was going to be spent on my belly. Luckily, I had a lot of time to go slow and be quiet. I hiked a big circle to get the wind in my favor and the belly crawling started.
Within two and half hours, I had moved 150 yards in the grass which was no taller than knee high. I found a wait high clump of grass and decided it was close enough. I sat on my butt and got ready. I originally thought that he was with about 20 does and few small bucks. It turned out to be about 60 other deer. Despite the change in numbers, it was game time.
Behind the clump, I took off my quiver and took too arrows out. I took off my binoculars, took out my range finder, and I got ready for my shot. All I needed now was for him to stand. It seemed like forever had gone by and every other deer had stood up, repositioned themselves, and laid back down except for this big buck.
Then, all of a sudden, he started to gesture and popped up. He stood quartering away at 38 yards. I raised on one knee, I slowly drew back, took a deep breath, got comfortable, held my breath, settled my 40 yard pin, and slowly squeezed my release.
The arrow flew true. It made contact right behind his last rib and shot forward to the opposite shoulder. Only the fletching was exposed. The buck and the rest of the herd jumped up and ran about 10 yards.
They looked towards the direction of the where the arrow had come. I was visually locked on my buck. I started to see him begin to get “drunk sailor legs” and I saw him fall not 30 seconds after my shot.
I ran down to him and just stood there in amazement at the beautiful hard velvet axis deer buck. Pure joy overcame me as I thought about how I was the lucky hunter that the buck chose.
Great friends make good memories last a lifetime.