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Fishing or Hunting Trip a Bust? Not So Fast!

by: Ben Swigle 1/23/2014

I’ve been a little short on blog material and interesting stories as the winter months bring a great deal of data analysis and good old fashioned face to face meetings.  Although the flooding events have certainly landed myself in an office chair more than I’d prefer, I’ll try to keep up with the others by posting a blog every month or so....frankly I generally get some useful comments and I'm afraid Coulson’s ever-growing group of “Old Guys” may just come knocking……don’t mess with old man strength!

I’m off topic, as far as the scope of this website but I tried long and hard to put into words why I go hunting, or fishing for that matter in light of getting skunked.  It’s strange in the sense that people act almost apologetic or saddened when they learn you may have not been successful harvesting an animal.  Same this goes for fishing…."did you catch anything?”  Well, we caught a few small ones, you might report.  “Well that’s a shame” your neighbor might say.  Not the case in my mind, it was not a shame as I spent an entire day outside, often with a close relative.  Anyhow on with my blog. 

The 2013 big game hunting season is now complete throughout Colorado with many resident and non-resident hunters successfully harvesting an elk, deer, antelope, or other big game.  However, for a slightly larger majority of big game enthusiasts their hunt likely ended in similar fashion to my recent pursuit of an elk north of the Poudre Canyon - thirty miles of hiking, some new sporting goods, four days of annual leave, a few tanks of spent fuel - but no elk.    Truth be told hunting is not easy, cheap, and certainly not timely.  Yep, I was skunked but I would be hard pressed to argue my quest was unproductive.

The $46 resident elk tag I successfully drew earlier this spring was my ticket to exploring the vast amount of public land between Livermore and Red Feather Lakes.  In a sort of Australian walk-about fashion, I covered a variety of terrain ranging from grassy meadows to steep rock out-croppings.  As usual, my strategy was to navigate as many different drainages as possible in a given day, surveying the low land and dark timber once I reached the successive summits. 

This style is my preferred method as I have never been suited for a tree stands which deer hunters find popular in many eastern states.  Frankly, I’m not that patient and each ridgeline offers an opportunity to encounter something new and unique.  The landscape was beautifully varied among the various drainages, some had a trickling stream, others contained white-tail deer and numerous jack rabbits, and perhaps the highlight of my season was a mountain lion located in a dark canyon roughly 5 miles southwest of Livermore. 

Most older and middle-aged hunters, such as myself, were introduced to the sport of hunting by a parent or grandparent.  In many cases this learning process remains steadfast however an extensive network of additional resources is available through Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Hunter Outreach Programs.  These programs, most of which are free to attend, teach novice and inexperienced hunters—of all ages—the knowledge, skills, ethics, and traditions of hunting.  Through workshops, clinics, seminars, and educational hunts, the program appeals to diverse interests, backgrounds, and levels of ability.  

Despite no wild table fare to carve up this new year, I left the hunting grounds with a clearer mindset, in better physical condition, and with an even bigger appreciation for nature.  It remains difficult put into words the reasons why so many Coloradoans hunt big game species; in the eyes of this participant it’s more about the experience rather than a harvest.  

Blog content © Ben Swigle
Member comments
Coyute, CO   1/23/2014 8:54:57 AM
Good stuff. How much elk meat would be a fair trade for a 'guided' trip to the Hag?
Fishful Thinker, CO   1/23/2014 10:14:11 AM
Great read, Ben...speaks to the essence of why we go. I went 50/50 on my tags this year...lucky enough o harvest a young bull and a button buck on an antlerless tag...and I don't for one minute regret the time, money and effort spent on the other two tags. Like you I had a great time in the field with close wife. I always view the unsuccessful trips as opportunities to improve my outdoor skills. CL
Ben Swigle (Swigs), CO   1/23/2014 10:31:24 AM
Coyute, might be worth a few meatballs although I do have some free ideas
pikeNcolorado, CO   1/23/2014 11:19:21 AM
If the skunk comes I'm ok with it. I've always said you can never have a bad day sitting next to water and or being outside.
opencage, CO   1/23/2014 3:57:16 PM
Couldn't agree more Ben. Just getting out there is what it's about. I always find myself saying after a skunk, "We'll get 'em next time!"
Tiny Stevens, CO   1/24/2014 1:46:06 AM
Ben, I have never felt that a trip without catching a fish or killing an animal is a skunk... as long as I learned from the trip. The education is in the experiences! Great Blog, I look forward to the next on! Tiny
Ben Swigle
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