This old boy scratched his back in front of us at 30 yards for about 5 minutes--all the while he was licking his lips and flehmening to pick up doe-in-estrus scent.
The road from the lodge at Kessler Canyon climbs several thousand feet up steep switchbacks. Once on top, the high plains where were found elk were relatively flat and easy walking. Read Day 5 HERE! Read Day 4 HERE! Read DAY 3 HERE! Read DAY 2 HERE! Read DAY 1 HERE!
Outdoor Life’s Colorado Grand Slam winner, John Stanley, (front) took his elk with a Mossberg 4×4 in .30-06 loaded with Remington’s 180-grain Premier Core-Lokt Ultra Bonded ammo. The rifle is topped with a Zeiss 2.5-10X42 T scope. This scope had an illuminated reticle–perfect for picking out the vitals in thick cover. The Zeiss Victory 10x42FL T binocular he’s wearing was a constant companion. For elk in this country, plan on spending as much time glassing as you will walking. Quality optics are a must and this glass was incredibly bright.
Here’s our crew of photographers and videographers. John got used to the crowd but when it came time to make his stalk, several of us stayed behind to keep noise and scent to a minimum. It paid off and he ended up taking his elk at 35 yards. Those binos I’m wearing are Victory 8X45 T RFs. They have a built-in rangefinder that was super accurate. Just point at the target, depress the button on top with your finger and get an instant read-out without ever having to take your eyes off the target.
Our entire crew takes a bow. From left, guide and Olympic trapshooter, Lance Bade; Outdoor Life’s Todd Smith; OL Grand Slam winner, John Stanley; videographer Eric Schwink and award-winning photographer, Tyler Stableford.
It took a while, but we were finally able to get a 4-wheel-drive Ranger down to John’s field-dressed bull. With a lot of muscle and some help from the winch, we were able to load him up whole and slowly drive him out of the canyon and back to the lodge for skinning and processing.
All of the mule deer at Kessler were down low and fully in the rut. Spot a doe and you could bet on a buck being close by.
This old boy scratched his back in front of us at 30 yards for about 5 minutes–all the while he was licking his lips and flehmening to pick up doe-in-estrus scent.
Chef Leonard McNab rings the dinner gong. Lenny is a 5-star cook who spent his early years working as a chuck wagon cook. His signature dinner call is a loud yell of “CHUCK!” Man those must have been lucky cowboys cause this guy can cook.
The day after John took his elk, we got 4 inches of snow at the lodge and at least a foot up on top. This made for perfect bird-hunting weather in the valley.
Todd and Lance (right) head across open fields to point the dogs into heavier cover. Birds held tight, causing everyone to flinch when they came rocketing out from under foot.
Here I’m waiting with my gun broken while John goes in on a point. He took 16 birds this afternoon–not bad for a guy who had never hunted birds much before.
On our last morning at Kessler Canyon, John headed out with one of the guides for a last-minute hunt. They put up over 60 birds in a little over an hour. John shot 27 and was able to take a bunch of tasty pheasants and chukars home with him.
One last look at John’s beautiful bull and enough meat to keep his freezer full for the winter.