Tag Archives: Colorado

The Bull of John Plute – An Elk of History & Epic Proportions

The John Plute Bull. A former Boone Crockett World Record Elk. Found now hanging at the Crested Butte, Colorado Chamber of Commerce
A Legend in Elk Genetics; A Dark Canyon Monarch. Photo by David Massender

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

…An elk bugle echoes down and around us in the half-light of early morning, as the towering walls of Dark Canyon take over the skyline. The high, whistling notes are nearly overcome by the falls above, the waters now airborne, flying from the cliffs towards Anthracite Creek. We catch our breath as we climb up the Devil’s Staircase, towards the great unknowns of the Ruby Range and the perils of the Ragged Mountains…

No, this is not the scene of some campy, dramatic flick, as mysterious and foreboding as it may sound. But it was the backdrop, with some poetic license included, of a monumental event in the big game hunting world. It is here, in 1899, that John Plute of Crested Butte, Colorado looked down his rifle barrel and laid down one of the largest set of elk antlers ever recorded.

He has quite a history, this bull, and I can only imagine that his story only survives because of luck and some divine providence. It is said that Mr. Plute was a good hunter, and he often traded wild game for the goods that he needed. More than likely, he was usually not too concerned about the size of a bull’s headgear. Perhaps, in this case, he was.

He was also known to be a colorful character. An inveterate bachelor, a miner, and a mountain man, he traded the head to the local saloon keeper in payment of an overdue bar bill. It later passed to the stepson of the saloon owner, who dragged it out of storage and submitted the first unofficial measurement of its antlers in 1955.

The formalities took a little longer yet, until it was officially recognized by the Boone and Crockett Club as the new World’s Record Elk in 1961, The final score came in at a jaw-dropping 442 3/8 points.

Photographs simply don’t convey the magnificence of this specimen, and you can barely fit it within the view finder anyway. In person it is very nearly overwhelming, and it takes some time to evaluate its true size as the eye struggles to gain perspective.

The rack at its greatest spread tapes at over 51 inches, with 7 points on one side and 8 points on the other. One antler has a basal circumference of over 12 inches, and two points are more than 25 inches long. When first mounted many years after the kill, it was fitted with the biggest elk cape to be found. It was probably not quite big enough.

I have been fortunate to hunt some of the nation’s top trophy areas, and I have come across some big bulls in my time. A 325″ class bull is bigger than many elk hunters will ever encounter; a 350″ elk will really get your attention. I have yet to ground check a Boone and Crockett class elk, though it has not been for lack of trying.

Once, on a Colorado bowhunt, I very nearly harvested a bull that most certainly was approaching that magical 400 point plateau. The memory of that guy can still keep me up at night, and I doubt that I will ever forget the sense of awe he installed within me. I can hardly imagine another 40 or 50 inches of bone on top of his skull.

The Plute bull was the World Record for over 30 years, and many thought that it would never be beaten. The glory days of elk hunting appeared to be long gone, after all, …or were they?

In 1995, the elk hunting world shook once more when an antler buyer purchased a head that he had seen in the back of a pickup truck. Killed by an Arizona cattle rancher in 1968 and never measured, it was eventually determined to be bigger than the bull of Crested Butte. Even then, it only beat out the existing world record by less than 1/2″ of total score.

Obviously, Mr. Plute never knew just how big his elk really was. It does not sound that it would have mattered much to him anyway, though I probably should not speak as if I know. Very little has been passed down about his everyday doings, or his end.  Some have said that he died while breaking a spirited horse; others have said that no one really knows. Perhaps the truth of his ultimate fate is lost upon the winds and snow fields of the wild lands that he roamed, like many men of his era. In my way of thinking that only adds another layer to the legend, and to the mysterious nature of a place that once held a bull such as this.

It is impossible to know the full extent of this elk’s legacy. No doubt his genetics still warms the blood of his countless descendants, banked for the day when they can fully express their immeasurable potential. Who knows how many elk like him, have lived, and died, without being seen?

The head now hangs at The Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce, which might seem an ignominious end to such an important animal. Perhaps it may not be the best place to honor him, but I do not get to make that kind of choice. For most, he is a curiosity and a fine tourist attraction, though I doubt that the uninitiated can grasp its true significance.  For my part I am grateful for the opportunity to admire him in any way that I can.

The Dark Canyon of Anthracite Creek has yet to hit my eyes for real, but it will. I am drawn to it, curious too, and my hunter’s eye wants to see what it will see. Hunt there, I will,  just to say that I did. I hope that John Plute would approve.

Most of all, I would like to think that a giant elk like him still roams those mountains. In my dreams I see him there, hanging back in the dark timber just out of reach of mortal men, suspended on the edge of time and the longing of hunter’s soul.

See you out there!

 

The John Plute Boone & Crockett World Record Bull Elk. Now Found at The Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce in Colorado
A Proud Achievement. Mount On Display At The Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

“All the sounds of this valley run together into one great echo, a song that is sung by all the spirits of this valley. Only a hunter hears it”. – Chaim Potok, I Am The Clay, 1992

 

You Might Also Like The World Record Stag of the Woodlands, About Bowhunting For Woodland Caribou.

 

If you would like to read more about trophy elk and mule deer, we suggest that you acquire a copy of Colorado’s Biggest Bucks and Bulls, by Jack and Susan Reneau. We generally have a copy or two in stock. Feel free to Email us at huntbook1@gmail.com for a price quote and other details.

 

Hunters Specialties Carlton’s Calls Mac Daddy Herd Pack Elk Combo (Sports)

The Carlton’s Calls Mac Daddy Herd Pack Elk Combo by Hunter’s Specialties includes the Mac Daddy with INFINITY LATEX bull elk call, the Estrus Squeeze Me Elk Cow Call and Carlton’s Premium Flex Double Reed diaphragm call for an ultimate elk hunting set. Also includes The Complete Elk Caller DVD to learn to call like the pros.

New From:$50.00 USD In Stock
buy now

Elk Hunting the West-revisited (Hardcover)

Mike packs his latest volume with new information about trophy western elk hunting. Learn tips about photography, hunting in grizzly county, caping, packing and more!

New From:$33.95 USD In Stock
buy now

First Culinary Impressions – Mountain Goat On The Grill

 

“We kill the game to eat it. Tasting it, we thank it. Thanking it, we remember it: how we hunted it, how it tested us, how we overcame it, how it finally fell”. – Charles Fergus, From A Rough-Shooting Dog, 1991

 

In Honor of The Rocky Mountain Goat. A Small Tub of Ground Meat For Goat Burgers For The Grill. Mountain Goat Recipes by Michael Patrick McCarty
Paying Homage To the Goat

 

October 2015

 

Time to Eat

 

I have waited a long time to taste the meat of the Rocky Mountain Goat, and I am…surprised. The question is, of course, just exactly how to you prepare it and cook it

Surprised mostly, I suppose, because it did not taste anything at all like I thought that it would. And surprised too because most of the information that I could find on the internet and my library of wild game cookbooks was anything but hopeful. You might say that recipes for mountain goat are far and few between.

Granted, I have only tried one small sample from the front shoulders, and that was ground well without added fat to get a true taste of the meat.

But we prepared some large patties and heated them medium rare on a hot grill on a perfect mountain evening, and they were good.

In fact they were great, served with buns and the usual burger accompaniments. They didn’t last long at all, and they left us wanting more.

I am at a loss to describe the taste completely, though perhaps that is the difficulty. The meat was subtle and mild, and fairly flavorless, but in a good way. Sometimes, less is more with wild game.

It may have something to do with the fact that this billy was perfectly processed in the field, then quickly and thoroughly cooled by mother nature as well as any walk-in cooler.

What I can tell you is that it was firm and clean without a hint of gaminess. It was well…refreshing, wild, like the promise of a new day in the bracing air of a high mountain valley.

Finding a recipe for this amazing animal almost anywhere is about as difficult as harvesting one in the first place. So, when in doubt, let the spirit move you and make it up, I say.

It is a blank canvas of possibility, and I look forward to experimenting with this wonderful wild meat.

A spice here, a spice there – a complimentary sauce or two. Some sausage for sure. Let the celebration continue…and if you have any suggestions, you know what to do.

*I have now tried this with 5% added beef fat, and I can highly recommend it.

 

Rocky Mountain Goat Wild Game Recipes. How To Make Ground Hamburger and Rocky Mountain Goat Sauasage. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Now That’s What I’m Talking About…A Mountain Goat Burger as Big As A Mountain Peak

 

A FEW WORDS ABOUT MEAT GRINDING

 

One theme emerged when researching the gastronomic qualities of Mountain Goat. That theme in a word, is tough!

It makes perfect sense, considering where they live and what they do. Their meat seems to be infused with an inordinate amount of sinew and connective tissue, which would seem to explain a thing or two about their character. You’d be tough too if you spent the long winter clinging to a cliff or looking for something to eat on an impossibly cold, windswept ridge.

A crock pot obviously comes to mind, and no doubt that I will be breaking it out very soon. In lieu of that, a small electric meat grinder may be the perfect tool for the job.

My hunting partner has had his grinder for many years, and I know that he would be hard pressed to count how many elk and deer and other wild game animals have had some of their parts run through it. It worked wonderfully on this five-year old billy too.

While using it the other night I was reminded at just what a miraculous and indispensable machine it is for the big game hunter. Or any kind of hunter, for that matter.

There are things that you can do after this little beauty has finished that you simply can’t accomplish any other way, with the exception of a hand grinder, of course. The possibilities are endless.

Might you have a hankering for some german sausage? Or Italian is more to your taste? How about some meat sticks or hot dogs? Have you ever used a jerky gun? It is essential in making jerky from ground meat too.

In my mind it is one of the most beneficial tools that any hunter could own.

Enjoy!

 

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also Like Mountain Goat Sausage And, A Mountain Goat Kinda Night, Or Sportsmans Recipes

 

For The Wild Game Chef, We Recommend:

 

The Wild Game Smoker and Grill Cookbook: Sensational Recipes and BBQ Techniques for Mouth-Watering Deer, Elk, Turkey, Pheasant, Duck and More (Paperback)

Tips, tricks, and techniques for using a smoker or bbq grill to enhance the natural flavor of your wild game

Including everything from heat control basics and perfect wood chip pairings to seasoning ideas and smoker secrets, this unique cookbook is a must have for every hunter. Wild game includes some of the most sustainably harvested and healthy meats in the world and their robust flavors make them exceptional choices for grilling and smoking.

Kindi Lantz combined her culinary artistry with ancient cooking methods to develop sensational smoked and grilled wild game recipes that stray from the norm. This impressive culmination of deer, elk, antelope, bear, rabbit, duck, goose, pheasant, and other game recipes will inspire culinary mastery, providing simple, step-by-step instructions for creating mouth-watering dishes.


New From:$18.95 USD In Stock

This title will be released on February 19, 2019.

buy now

Kill It & Grill It: A Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish (Hardcover)

Ted Nugent shares his favorite recipes for such exotic fare as wild boar, pheasant, buffalo, and venison. The cookbook is filled with hunting anecdotes, detailed instructions on cleaning and dressing game, helpful hints, and nutritional information.

New From:$15.63 USD In Stock
buy now

In Praise of The .30-378 Weatherby Magnum

“Nothing shoots flatter, hits harder or is more accurate than a Weatherby.”The Weatherby Company (Slogan)

 

 

Michael Patrick McCarty Gives a Thumbs Up Just After Making A Killing Shot On A Mountain Goat in The Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness of Colorado with a .30-378 Weatherby Magnum. Best Rifle for Mountain Goat Hunting
Mr. Weatherby Does It Again on a Colorado Mountain Goat Hunt. Photo by Rocky Tschappat.

 

October, 2015

 

The Colorado High Country will test the boundaries of heart and soul of any hunter, and the outer limits of rifle ballistics too. I hunted mountain goats there in September of 2015, and if their was ever a caliber made for such a task it is the .30-378 Weatherby Magnum.

Originally designed for the military in 1959 by Roy Weatherby, it was not available to the general public as a factory offering until 1996. I suspect that the majority of big game hunters have still never heard of it, even though it was used to set world records for accuracy at 1,000 yards and held that record for decades. It remains the fastest .30 caliber ammunition on the market.

I have a friend that is a big fan of this cartridge, and he is an old hand at long-range precision rifle shooting. He once took an elk at 750 yards, and when he heard that I had drawn a goat tag he all but insisted that I give it a try. He said that this was probably the closest it would ever get to a mountain goat, and he wanted a picture of the two together.

Now that’s a buddy and a pal that you can count on. There are not a lot of people in this world that would hand over a $2000 rifle with a finely engineered scope and a $150 box of shells and encourage you to go play in the rocks.

The thought of attempting a shot over several football fields stacked end to end is one that I would not generally consider very seriously, but then again I had never shot a rifle quite like this. After all, that’s exactly what this rifle was built for, and reason enough to own one.

I had my opportunities too. On this trip I had to pass on some really big billies, but not because they were at 500 yards or more. Shot placement is always important, but in goat hunting it is what happens after the shot that is of paramount importance.

Each time the goat was in a spot which would have made recovery impossible without ropes and climbing gear, and my head said no while my trigger finger desperately wanted to say yes. More than one trophy goat has stumbled and fallen a long, long way down the mountain after failing to be anchored by what appeared to be a great hit.

It took several days to find one in a reachable spot. As it turned out, there was no need to worry. I shot my Billy with a 130 grain handload at 350 yards, and their was never any question about the end result. It simply never knew what hit it, and was down and out on impact. The round got there in one hell of a hurry too.

The .30-378 Weatherby Magnum is truly a high performance hunting caliber. You may wish to take one along on your next mountain hunting adventure.

I know I will.

 

Best Rifle for Mountain Goat And Sheep Hunting. The .30-378 Weatherby Magnum Mark V with Synthetic Stock & Bipod & Ported Barrel. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty
The .30-378 Weatherby Magnum Mark V with Synthetic Stock & Bipod. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Best Rifle for Mountain Goat and Mountain sheep Hunting. A Cheat-Sheet to Die for. These Yardages Correspond With Hashmarks and Post In The Rifle Scope For This .30-378 Weatherby Magnum. 770 Yards? Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty
A Cheat-Sheet to Die for. These Yardages Correspond With Hashmarks and Post In The Rifle Scope. 770 Yards? Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Best Rifle for Mountain Goat and Sheep Hunting. .30-378 Weatherby Magnum Cartridge and .270 Winchester Rifle Cartridge by Comparison. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty
.30-378 Cartridge and .270 by Comparison. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Best Rifle for Mountain Goat and Sheep Hunting. A Hunter Picks His Way Down a Steep Mountain Slope, While Rifle Hunting For Rocky Mountain Goat in the Maroon-Bells Snowmass Wilderness in Colorado's Game Management Unit 12. Even a .30-378 Weatherby Magnum Can't Help You Here.
Where Angels, and Goat Hunters, Fear To Tread
Best Rifle for Mountain Goat Hunting. Two hunters pose with a Rocky Mountain Goat taken with a 30.378 Weatherby Magnum on a self-guided hunt in the Maroon-Bells Snowmass wilderness near GMU 12 in Colorado. Photograph Of Michael Patrick McCarty
Wet and Cold – But Happy!

 

A Taxidermy Shoulder Mount of a Mountain Goat Billy, Taken With a 30.378 Weatherby Magnum Rifle in Colorado's GMU 12, in Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, by Michael Patrick McCarty in Colorado's Game Management Unit 12, in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness
A Place Of Honor Upon The Wall

 

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

For More Information on the .30-338 Weatherby Magnum see the Wikipedia Article Here

*You may also like our post A Mountain Goat Night and The Improbable Beast

——————————————————–

Update:

As it turns out, it does appear that I was able to take a very solid mountain goat for this unit. According to the Colorado Big Game Harvest Statistics for 2015, my goat was about 5 years old and had horns that were a bit better than average compared to other goats taken that year.

That’s some fine news, to be sure. Yet, I must tell you that in the end the length of the horns don’t really matter, at least to me. The real prize was the mountainous adventure of it all, and it’s a fantastic trophy no matter the score.

May you draw your own tag soon!

 

You Can Read Some History of The Weatherby Company Here

 

——————————————————————-

“Roy Weatherby has left an indelible mark on the gun industry. His story began in earnest following his first deer hunt in 1942, which resulted in a wounded buck that left him both frustrated and convinced he could find a more effective way to take an animal.

From that day, Roy embarked on changing the way the world viewed ballistic performance, championing the use of lighter weight bullets at ultra high velocities with maximum energy…the foundation for what would later become known as the Weatherby Magnum.” – The Weatherby Foundation

 

Weatherby: The Man. the Gun. the Legend. (Hardcover)

Weatherby: The Man. the Gun. the Legend. [Hardcover]
Grits Gresham (Author), Tom Gresham (Author)

New From:$79.95 USD In Stock
buy now

A Hook-Jawed Monster of the Deep Pools

“I never lost a little fish. It was always the biggest fish I caught that got away.” – Eugene Field

 

 

A Fly Fisherman Poses With a Trophy Rainbow Trout, Caught On A Flyrod In A High Mountain Pond in Northwestern Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
At Least 9 Pounds of Rocky Mountain Memory

 

A TROUT OF A LIFETIME – UNTIL NEXT TIME!

 

A big trout is an extraordinary creature – built for power, speed…and battle. Some, like this guy, are more than a match for any fisherman.

We all wish to catch a trout like this one day. If any of you already have, then you know that maybe, just maybe, there is another fish like this out there…deep below the surface…finning…watching…waiting – for one more cast…

May your waters be wild, and big!

And Oh, By The Way – You Might Want To Get A Larger Net…

 

Original Pencil Drawing Art Of a Brook Trout By Charlie Manus of Marble, Colorado
Out of the Depths!

Original Pencil Drawing Of a Brook Trout By Charlie Manus of Marble, Colorado

 

——————————————————–

 

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also Like Fun with Trout, and Some Books by Russell Chatham

 

“There is always a feeling of excitement when a fish takes hold when you are drifting deep.” – Ernest Hemingway

 

Want to catch a really big trout? You might want to pick up a copy of:

 

The Hunt for Giant Trout: 25 Best Places in the United States to Catch a Trophy (Paperback)

The waters in the United States that grow extremely large trout have for many years been closely guarded, and the techniques for catching these large fish were only known by a select group of die hard anglers. This bucket list of top destinations in the US for trophy trout features interviews with expert guides and fly designers, stunning images, and essential where-to and timing information to increase your chances of success. Landon Mayer and others describe in detail how to hunt giants from Alaska to Maine, revealing what makes each fish and fishery unique; including over 30 distinct patterns and recipes for tying them. With essential advice and tips from top anglers such as Dave Whitlock, Pat Dorsey, Blane Chocklette, Tommy Lynch, Nanci Morris Lyon, Arlo Townsend, Chad Johnson, and many more.

New From:$21.73 USD In Stock
Release date: December 15, 2018.

buy now

Some Basic Mountain Mulemanship

 

To The Mountain Horse

 

“His sire was Spain; His dam, the Nez-perce. Legs forged on granite anvils; Heart forged by the mountains.

Kin to the bighorn With clever hoof and infinite eye. Drinker of the wind, the dawn-singer, Kin to the elk.

Enduring, gaunt, rock-worn, Lacking titled rank or registry, His labors win the noble heights And the consort of eagles.” – John Madson, From The Elk, 1966

 

A Pack Mule Poses in Front of the Colorado Snow-Covered Peaks, While on an Elk Hunting Trip On Red Table Mountain, Near Basalt.
Mule Over Mountain – A Stunning View From Red Table Mountain Near Basalt, Colorado. Photo by David Massender

 

There is no better way to hunt elk or mule deer in the high Rocky Mountains than by horseback or mule, yet working with pack animals is fast becoming a lost art. Still, there are still some diehards out there, so hats off to all of you pack-in hunters.

Mountain hunting holds a certain romance and allure all its own, and a large part of the experience depends on how you get there. Some prefer horses, others say that mules may be better. But then again, I think I will stay out of that argument.

Still, from what little I know about mules, they always seem to be playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers. They are definitely smart, and so sure-footed too! As many of you know, that can be particularly comforting when your life literally depends on the careful placement of hooves on stone.

Check out this short video for some basic tips.

 

– Video courtesy of Dave Massender. See Dave’s Youtube Channel Here.

 

——————————————————–


 

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also See Red Rock Sentinels

 

We can highly recommend:

 

Packin’ in on Mules and Horses (Paperback)

For those who yearn to pack in the wilderness country of the West, either on their own mules and horses or those of a professional packer, here is a book that takes the mystery out of back country packstring travel.
By teaching you the tricks of the trade, professional outfitter Smoke Elser show how your trip will be easier and more enjoyable by knowing more about the animals used and why and how they carry their loads as they do.
Whether you’re an expert of a dude, Smoke’s packing system will get you into and out of the back country safely and efficiently. Best of all, you will start to become self-sufficient and resourceful, important aspects of any wilderness travel. The book is laced with instructional photgraphs and sketches, presented in an open, attractive format.

New From:$16.88 USD In Stock
buy now

The mule alternative: The saddle mule in the American West (Perfect Paperback)

From Scientific American
…a must-have for anyone with an interest in the subject is Mike Stamm’s The Mule Alternative. Modest in appearance and presentation, The Mule Alternative is packed with insight into mules and the history of their use in the United States. Stamm discusses the viability of the mule through the letters and diaries of historical figures. A unique approach to say the least, but one that works very well indeed. Practical and poignant (many of the historical passages concern the ravages of war and exploration) by turn,The Mule Alternative has the ability to hook and hold the reader’s attention. History buffs and equestrians with an affinity for the mighty mule will be delighted with this book. –This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From The New Yorker
Wildlife biologist Mike Stamm began research several years ago into a number of questions concerning the historic use of mules during the settlement of the Old West. He wanted to know why many early westerners preferred mules to horses as saddle animals: how mules compared to horses in terms of endurance, hardiness, surefootedness, longevity, and manageability, and why mules have fallen into relative disfavor today. Using historic diaries of early travelers, including mountain men, traders, soldiers, and settlers. Stamm puts together a remarkable testimony in praise of the saddle mule. Stamm includes excellent historical photos and maps in this book. His research will be useful to both mule and horse owners and everyone interested in transportation during the settlement of the West. –This text refers to the Paperback edition.

New From:$18.99 USD In Stock
buy now

Rocky Mountain Yard Art

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes you can view a glimpse of it in the form of a big mule deer buck in the backyard.

 

A Trophy Class Mule Deer Buck Poses On The Lawn Of A Suburban Neigborhood, Nezt To A Raised Flower Bed, With Pumpkins Left Over From Holloween. Photography By Michael Patrick McCarty
Looking For a Late Season Garden Snack

Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

“Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher “standard of living” is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech”. – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

 

There are many great books about improving your property or backyard for nature and wildlife, and you might wish to pick up a copy of:

 

Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden: Creating Backyard and Balcony Habitats for Wildlife (Paperback)

“Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden” is a backyard ecologist’s handbook for helping wildlife thrive in the backyard or on the balcony. The book takes readers through the planning, design, and realization stages of creating wildlife habitats, using ecologically sound gardening and landscaping techniques, and 46 projects for housing and feeding birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. “Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden” teaches readers not only how to enhnace their garden but also how to encourage the survival of many native plant and animal species in North America, creating important pathways for wildlife, one garden at a time. The layperson will find the writing style and content entirely approachable, and there are loads of photographs, ilustrations, diagrams and sidebars to make the abundance of information easily digestible.

New From:$19.76 USD In Stock
buy now

Just Another Hunting Season Survivor

A Big Mule Deer Buck Trails a Doe During The Breeding Season in Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Big Mule Deer bucks are experts at stealth, evasion, and concealment, and they always seem to completely vanish during the annual rifle seasons.

I have watched this guy come along for several years now, and he has returned once again to his favorite doe-chasing country on unhunted, private lands. A battered old warrior, for sure, and a survivor of bears, mountain lions, and the relentless coyote hoards.

He may be even bigger than ever, certainly taller, but not wider, and perhaps just a bit on the downside of his prime.  Still, he seems unchallenged among his competitors, though no doubt, some will run the gauntlet of horns before the end of the current breeding season.

My guess is he will die of old age before some lucky hunter can surprise him in his transitional haunts, if, in fact, they be anywhere where he could be legally hunted. I should know, for I have tried.

But there is hope, there is always hope…and there is always, God Willing, next year!

Long Live Big Bucks!

 

 

A Large Mule Deer Buck Poses Momentarily In It's Search For Does, During the Annual Rut In Western Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

 

A Male Mule Deer Watches Over A Young doe During The annual Rut In Western Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

 

A Trophy Mule Deer Buck Against Red Cliffs and Snow IN Western Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

 

Photographs By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also Like Mule Deer In Motion

 

Mule Deer Country (Hardcover)

Mule Deer Country is an updated edition of a stunning book that is the result of an international collaboration between the worlds foremost authority on mule deer and a gifted and dedicated wildlife photographer. This new update of Mule Deer Country includes over 100 full-colour photos that depict all aspects of mule deer seasonal behavior, as well as their spectacular and beautiful habitat.

New From:$42.69 USD In Stock
buy now

The Way It Ought To Be – Elk, Boys & Men

A Close-up Photograph of Elk Tracks in the Melting Snow - A Hunter's Dream
Something Big Dead Ahead

 

FOLLOW ME…

 

Today was a special day in my hunter’s world. It began like most Rocky Mountain winter days, but by evening I had acquired an elk for the freezer and two new hunting buddies.

Elk meat is a prized commodity in our household and one elk provides satisfying meals for many months. Hunting buddies, on the other hand…well, they are a gift of a lifetime. I am extremely fortunate to have several and I cherish them, but hey, I’m happy to add some others.

My new buddies just happen to be brothers, and like many good hunting companions they innocently possess unbridled enthusiasm, a refreshing ability to gaze upon everything around them as if for the first time, a natural wide-eyed curiosity, and the willingness to do anything required of them to make for a successful outing. Of course, like most people they have their own unique personalities and levels of hunting skill. In this case, they happen to be smaller than most and have some trouble in deep snow or rough country. They are named MacKenzie and Connor, and they are six and eight years old. They already love elk and elk country. In fact, they live in some of the best elk habitat that Colorado has to offer. But, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

I have known these two since they were born, and I’ve known their father, Pat, for a quarter century or so. Pat and I have shared a lot of elk camps together, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for a lot of money, unless of course I could use it to go on more hunting trips with him. He is one of the finest hunters I know, and he is lucky to be blessed with a wife who understands his passion, and surely knows that she could not stop him anyway. Certainly it’s no wonder that “the boys” as we call them, take to the outdoors as naturally as elk bugle. Pat tells me that there was a time he could leave the house without them tugging at his coat tails, but he can’t really remember when that was. It’s just the way it should be, I say.

Call it a genetically inherited instinct, or say, a natural affinity for the wilds, these boys love the mountains and it is an uplifting thing to see. Pat has trained them right, of course, having brought them along whenever he could even when it meant carrying them. He’s patiently endured the myriad challenges presented by a partner who can’t tie his shoes or zipper his own jacket. He has always been the unwavering teacher in the face of emergency potty breaks, snarled fishing reels, and miscellaneous meltdowns. It’s just the way it ought to be, says he. I love and respect him more than ever for that.

Always happy to lend support over the years, I’ve done my share and have been quick to offer whatever advice a four-year old can comprehend. Mostly, I’ve never missed a opportunity to ask them an important question. Something like, “Hey Boys! – I just want to know one thing – Are you going to pack my elk? It became our personal joke and was always a great question to ask at parties, causing them to fly off with hysterical giggles and laughter and to repeat it to their young friends who do the same. It’s not often that you get a chance to train a group of small ones in the proper order of hunting priorities. After all, middle age now stares me squarely in the paunch, and frankly, I’m gonna need the help.

Today, we are wholeheartedly engaged in what can only be called a “meat hunt”. We know that there is a small herd of elk not far above the house, and it is late afternoon before everyone is gathered and we prepare to sneak up and over the ridge. The boys have geared up like old pros, which of course in many ways they are. They have watched a multitude of elk from their picture window, probably before they were interested in much else. They know the elk trails and the difference between a yearling and a big cow and where the herd is likely to run if they are spooked. Connor is next to me when we start off, and he does his best Indian imitation while pointing out tracks along the way. He shows me where he last saw the elk, and as we near the top of a small rise we see the oh so typical head up frontal view of a smart old cow. We’re busted, and I’m wheezing up through the oak brush and slippery rocks for position.

 

A Small Herd of Cow Elk On Alert During a Heavy Winter Snowstorm In Western Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

The first group of cows is moving and I wait, hoping for a better shot and about to lose my opportunity. Luckily, a mature cow is bringing up the rear. It’s not the easiest shot in the world, nor the toughest, but I’ve not been shooting well for a couple of seasons and I take some extra time to draw a bead. I squeeze the trigger and she drops in her tracks. “Nice shot Mike”, I hear from my six-year-old guide. Sweet words to be sure when your luck has been a little off for a little too long, and out of the mouths of babes at that.

We stand around the downed animal and I am truly grateful. Pat heads off to help another member in our party, and I am left alone with the two boys and a beautiful sunset in a clear, cold December sky. The boy’s seem quite content to hunker down in the snow and watch, and help. I become aware of the fading sky and the mountain peaks over their shoulders and think that they are exactly where they want to be. They wear these mountains like a warm woolen blanket, and there is room underneath for me, and for us all.

I stand before the elk and bow to the four directions and give thanks, party because it is something I have come to do to show respect, and partly for effect, as I know they are watching. What are you doing, they ask? Why did you look in that direction first? It’s obviously time for me to answer some questions.

I decide to quarter the cow for easier handling, and when my knife comes out they really become interested. Something about boy’s and knives, I guess. “Why are you doing it that way, they say?”. Where did the bullet hit? How many teeth does it have? How old is it?  Mike, your elk tooth wedding ring is all bloody is it going to be O.K.?” And so on and so on.

I warn them several times to stay clear of my knife in case I slip, but they never miss an opportunity to touch or prod or examine in some way this elk. Their mother has sternly warned them to not ruin their cloths, and both their father and I reminded them more than once. For all the good it does. They want to be close, to smell its’ smell and lay their fingers on its teeth. Even in death, they want to become part of its life. These two are hunters, make no mistake, and I’m proud to be with them on this mountain at this moment in time when two young people chose to join us all in the adventure that we love.

They were quiet for a while, and I was working to beat the darkness. I saw their heads come up and they smiled and looked at each other like they had a thought at the same time. “Hey Mike!, they say proudly. You know what?…we’re gonna pack your elk”.

I stare at them for a moment, and then clandestinely wipe a bit of moisture out of the corner of one eye. It is not an easy maneuver to perform with a heavy backstrap in one hand and a sharp blade in the other.

“That’s right, I say. I’m sure glad you guys are here”.

Just the way it ought to be, I think.

 

A Solo Big Game Hunter Packs Out a Heavy Elk Hindquarter in the Snow in Western Colorado. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty
Just A Few More Yards To Go For Dad

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also Like To Read:

A Man Made of MeatJim Kjelgaard: Patron Saint, or A Pheasantful of Memories 

 

Take A Child Hunting Today!

 

A Young Boy and His Father Race Through The Snow To Get In Position As a Pack of Beagle Hounds Pursue A Running Cottantail Rabbit. A Vintage Lithograph Poster From The Game Art Collection of the Remington Arms Co. Inc. Artist Bob Kuhn. From the Collection of Michael Patrick McCarty
The Beginnings Of A Lifelong Pursuit

 

Should You Have Any Doubts, You May Wish To Read:

 

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (Paperback)

“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” reports a fourth-grader. Never before in history have children been so plugged in-and so out of touch with the natural world. In this groundbreaking new work, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation-he calls it nature deficit-to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as rises in obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder (Add), and depression. Some startling facts: By the 1990s the radius around the home where children were allowed to roam on their own had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. Today, average eight-year-olds are better able to identify cartoon characters than native species, such as beetles and oak trees, in their own community. The rate at which doctors prescribe antidepressants to children has doubled in the last five years, and recent studies show that too much computer use spells trouble for the developing mind. Nature-deficit disorder is not a medical condition; it is a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. This alienation damages children and shapes adults, families, and communities. There are solutions, though, and they’re right in our own backyards. Last child in the Woods is the first book to bring together cutting-edge research showing that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development-physical, emotional, and spiritual. What’s more, nature is a potent therapy for depression, obesity, and Add. Environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade point averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making. Even creativity is stimulated by childhood experiences in nature.

Features:  Great product!
By (author):  Richard Louv

New From:$9.98 USD In Stock
buy now

In The Hushed Silence of Winter Storm

 

A Young Mule Deer Buck With Fresh Snow On His Back, Patiently Waits Out A Fast Moving Storm In The Colorado Rockies. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Laying Low and Hanging Out.

 

A Small Flock Of Canada Geese Walks Through A Field Of Snow And Grass, Searching For Food In A Rocky Mountain Winter Storm. Photo by Michael Patrick McCarty
It’s a lean, Yearning, Time of Year

 

A Trophy Mule Deer Buck On High Alert While Quietly Feeding During A Colorado Winter Snowstorm. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Hard to Hide Those Antlers

 

A small Herd of Cow Elk Weave In And Out of the Falling Snow During a November Storm in the Rocky Mountains. Photograph  by Michael Patrick McCarty
Out of the Storm

 

Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also Like Mule Deer In Motion

Silence & Solitude: Yellowstone’s Winter Wilderness (Hardcover)

Powerful, brutal, beautiful, and at times, enchanting, winter in Yellowstone National Park is a world unlike any other. It is a season both abstract and profound, where super-heated water erupts into arctic air, where wildlife pushes snow in a constant struggle to survive, and where silence and solitude dominate the park’s deep wilderness. Photographer Tom Murphy has experienced Yellowstone’s winter wilderness as few others have, skiing far into the backcountry with heavy camera gear, an uncanny ability to weather cold and snow, and an artist’s eye for the sublime. His photographs reveal a majestic land where the air is clean and clear and where a wolf’s throaty howl carries for miles on a still day.

“Silence & Solitude: Yellowstone’s Winter Wilderness” shows us the splendor and force of Yellowstone’s long cold. In 130 photos we begin to understand the lives of the wildlife that must endure it; we begin to feel the inspiring power of a landscape still wild and pure; and we see nature’s beauty in things great and small. These photos are accompanied by Murphy’s thoughtful words that take us into the time and place of each image. The captions allow us to smile at a fox’s serious hunt for a mouse, to understand why bison stand stoically in geothermal steam, and to marvel at a sudden shift of subtle light that brings breathtaking grandeur to a nondescript little tree and just as suddenly takes it away.

As popular author Tim Cahill observes in his foreword, “These are photos that mirror a man’s passion, and I know of nothing like them anywhere. Murphy’s photographs are not simply stunning or striking: they are also knowledgeable and even wise.”


New From:$24.84 USD In Stock
buy now

An Elk of Snow, and Spirit

Into The Storm

 

A photograph of a larger than life-sized bronze sculpture of a trophy bull elk, taken in a winter snow storm near Carbondale, Colorado
A Bull of the Night…And Dreams

 

It has often been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I may add that we never know when it may grace us with an unexpected visit.

I found my latest blessing in the form of a larger than life-sized bronze sculpture of a bull elk, found near Carbondale, Colorado, artist unknown.

You?

Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty, Active Member Outdoor Writers Association of America

Contemporary Wildlife Art (Hardcover)

Over 360 spectacular art pieces are accompanied by personal statements from 74 artists in this curated selection of contemporary works. The artists, who come from across the United States, and from places such as New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom, all convey their respect, enthusiasm, and personal connections to wildlife. A wide range of styles and media is covered including photography, glass, relief woodcarving, mosaics, pastels, oil, watercolor and acrylic painting, bronzes, stoneware, terracotta and porcelains, ink, graphite and colored pencil, digital illustration, felted sculpture and fabric collage, and more. Examples of wildlife presented are bears, birds, elephants, monkeys, pandas, tigers, foxes, wolves, owls, seals, and even insects. This book is a great gift for wildlife and nature enthusiasts, interior designers, museums, art collectors, art educators, and artists.

New From:$39.99 USD In Stock
buy now