Colorado Elk hunting trip (The Beginning) Hunters: Jason and Jodi Balazs; accompanied by Joe Provenza Sr., Joe Provenza JR., Josh Provenza, and Chuck Rodosevich.
It all started during a phone call with my good friend Joe Provenza. Joe and I have been friends since we were little kids and even joined the Military together over two decades ago. His family owns a ranch in Southern Colorado near the town of Gulnare. We spent our high school hunting seasons chasing bulls and bucks all over the hills around his place.
I called Joe in January to ask for some information about some land that was to the West of his place. Joe, being the great friend he is, took a scouting trip out there for Jodi and me. It seems that a large ranch owned the area that we had been researching and we would have to look elsewhere. Frustrated, I asked Joe once again to check some of the area over by Leveta Pass. After his report on the area, we decided that this was the place for our hunt and asked Joe if his family would like to share camp with us, in which he replied "yes".
After we planned the hunt, I contacted Rich Walton and asked about doing this as an "Online" hunt for Bowhunting.net. We both agreed that it would be a good idea and over the next few months, we discussed equipment that we would need. We both, Jodi and I decided on Bowtech and Jodi chose the Equalizer with me the Tribute. I equipped both bows with a Real Deal 5-pin sights from Spot Hog. For arrows we wanted the Carbon Express Maxima Hunters and then wrapped them in Easy Eye Arrow Wraps, Gateway feathers and tipped off with 100 grain Stinger Buzzcuts from Magnus. For Releases, we both use the Judge made by True-Fire.
Jason takes aim with his BowTech Tribute
First thing I had to do was get the bows set up. To ensure the bows were perfectly tuned, I used the R.S. Bow Vise system and EZE-center laser from Easy Eye. After fletching all the arrows with the Arizona E-Z Fletch, a must have tool that makes fletching arrows easy, and cutting them to length with Apple Archery's Pro arrow cut-off saw, we were ready to send them flying at our American Whitetail, Cube target. Now Jodi had never shot a bow, so I discussed the proper techniques for drawing and releasing the arrow, ensuring she understood the damage that could happen if a bow is dry-fired. Turns out, Jodi is a natural and after a month or so she had touching groups out to 40 yards.
New bowhunter, wife Jodi draws down
The Cube Target was just beginning a torturous few months
Around July, I received a call from Joe. He said that the Leveta Pass area was on fire and burning bad, but he was going to plan something else. He said to give him a bit and he would call back. About 30 minutes after I hung up, the phone rang again. It was Joe telling me that he had talked to his Dad, and we were going to hunt his ranch. I know that Joe had been leasing his ranch to Fred and Michelle Eichler (Fred is the host of Easton Bowhunting T.V. and Michelle is the co-owner of Muzzy Broadheads) for the last couple of years. He said his dad talked to Fred and that we were welcome to come up and hunt his land. I can't tell you how my excitement level went through the roof. Joe's family knows where the elk eat, sleep, and well you know… The plan was set; the only thing we had to do now is wait and wait and wait. Did I mention we had to wait?
15 September 2006
At 6:00 A.M. Jodi and I left for the 11-hour drive it would take to get to Joe's place. I figured if we don't make many stops, we might get there with some time to hunt. You could feel the excitement in the air. Both Jodi and I were raised in Colorado and love every second that we get to spend in the mountains. Especially the Fall Mountains that we were driving towards.
We arrived at the ranch at 4:00 P.M. Mountain time. I had instructions from Joe to "make ourselves at home" if no one was there. After unpacking, Joe's dad, Joe Sr. and his Uncle Chuck showed up from scouting some of the area. They asked if we wanted to go along and check some spots out. Jodi and I quickly got our Wolverine boots on along with some Sticks-n-Limbs camouflage and headed out. It had been at least 14 years since I had been on their place and time had changed some things. For one, they had discovered natural gas on his place (and just about every other place around there), and there were wells all over. It was a shame to see the beautiful Colorado Mountains scarred with the destruction that these well companies make; not to mention the noise they generate. I could tell Joe was upset with it too, but there was nothing he could do about it. Big money gas companies could win every battle that you throw at them, but if you don't own the mineral rights, they can mow over your property with minimal compensation for damage.
With bows and Bugle in hand we went to the edge of this cliff that is called, "Elk Hill." I remember as a kid, every time we wanted to find the elk we would go there. Joe got up to the edge and let a bugle go.
Nothing. He said, "We had a really bad rain the other day. Since then, they just have not been talking. But don't worry, we have a real bad cold front rolling in here in the next few days and that should get them going."
After that, we headed back to the lodge and met up with Joe Jr. and his brother Josh. We all had a great dinner and sat around talking for a while. Chuck went out to the porch and let out a bugle. It was answered immediately from a bull just two canyons over. Needless to say, we had a hard time sleeping after that.. To be continued..