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Foiled again

I failed at hunting again this year; at least, as most hunters measure success. I’m big game’s best friend. They all personally request me as a hunter for their regional mountain area, knowing that my clumsy, heavy-footed presence in their forest home surely guarantees their safety. The closest I got to even seeing game was the butt end of one elk running away over a ridge into thick, golden-yellow aspens. What a chicken! He wouldn’t even stand and fight like a man Ö er, wapiti (elk).I understand that not everyone shares my passion for the sport of hunting. Thatís OK. For those more compassionate toward the elk than me, I need to tell you that my family said of the hunt this time (after years of crushing frustration), “Come back with freezer meat for winter, or don’t come back at all.” Seems a little harsh. Who needs the sympathy now?So, I tried again. I was off the grid for a few days, away from the civilized world, into the wild, up in the San Juan Mountains in the Uncompahgre National Forest, deep in the dark woods. I was up each morning well before dawn, and hiked for miles following game trails ó hunting rifle over my shoulder, trail snacks in my pack. This time, it was personal. It was me or the bull elk ó one of us was not coming out alive. Perhaps a bit melodramatic, but you have to admire my determination, if not my hunting skills.Pictured is Rowdy Lake along the Big Cimarron Road. What do you NOT see in this picturesque setting? The answer: ANY elk. I found out from a trip into town for ATV repair parts that all the elk once here (other than the one coward I saw) were at a sports bar in Montrose for the Broncos game.I’m not too disappointed, however. To be honest, I’m hunting more for scenic photo opportunities anyway. And I found plenty; although, tough to fill the freezer with those. Rowdy Lake was beautiful. Maybe I should have brought my fishing pole rather than my hunting rifle.

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