26 Years – Worth the Wait

I’ve been applying in Colorado for Units 1, 2  and 201 for the past 26 years. Finally, in April of 2017, I received word that I had drawn Unit 201. Unit 201 is the northwest corner of the state bordering Wyoming and Utah. It requires at least 25 points, but Colorado Fish and Wildlife started to giving two hybrid permits that can be applied for with only five points. There is usually 1,500+ applications for 27 permits.

I immediately started looking for an outfitter in the designated area and settled on Diamond Peak Cattle Company, which encompasses 55,000 acres on multiple ranches in northwest Colorado plus has 250,000 to 300,000 acre leases of public and private land. The ranching operation was started in 1950 by John Raftopoulos with 15 cows and has grown under the management of his sons Angelo and George. After contacting Angelo who runs the hunting operation, I found out that they are about 100 percent on bulls in the 350-inch category.

The season runs October 1 to 11 and on September 30th I headed north driving from Glenwood Springs. I was met at the lodge by Angelo and the cook, Nikki, and shown to my room. We checked the rifle after a few minutes and found it to be on target.

The lodge is a very comfortable older ranch house with all the new Wi-Fi and satellite TV. After meeting the other six hunters and guides, we enjoyed a bountiful dinner and then readied for bed. We were up early before light and Angelo and I headed for Cold Springs Mountain. The mountain is a long plateau area to the south covered with sagebrush and canyons with cedar and aspen trees. We drove down beside one of the canyons and immediately started seeing forms of elk moving in the dark. As it got light, we could see two six-point bulls in the 300- to 320-inch range.

We did that in three different areas seeing smaller bulls each time, then we drove down a long narrow canyon to the end of the trail and got out of the vehicle. We walked down this canyon for a while and soon notice a large herd of elk at the end in the cedars. Angelo noted that one bull was very large, but they soon left the cedars and headed north along the middle portion of the long meadow where we couldn’t see where they were going. We went back to the car and headed north to the area we were at early in the morning. As we drove down next to a thicket, we noted the large herd had passed us and was running north to the valley and then up Diamond Peak.

We watched as they made their way to the top of the mountain. They ran a total distance of about 10 miles without stopping. We made our way back to camp for a great lunch before heading out for the afternoon. I saw eight six-point bulls in the first morning and was excited and couldn’t wait for the afternoon.

A storm came in and it started snowing and became foggy. We circled Diamond Peak that afternoon and only saw two small bulls. We got back to camp and learned that one of the other hunters had connected on a 330 bull in Area 2. It was getting colder every hour and the snow was piling up.

The next morning we were up early and headed to Diamond Peak. The switchbacks were snow covered and icy. We got to the top in the dark and stopped. As soon as I rolled down the window I could see a large bull form walking up the hill but it was still dark. We waited for a little light and walked up the road to a position where we could see a large herd of elk about 300 yards away. We glassed them all and thought the largest one was about 320 and a five point. I spotted three cows running on the skyline across the valley and Angelo spotted a large bull behind them. We set up for a long shot across the canyon and I shot over his back sending him behind a cedar. The bull stepped out again and I put the crosshairs on the chest and pulled. The bull collapsed and never moved. The shot was 380 yards.

We made our way over to the bull and found that he had no ground shrinkage. He was a magnificent six-point bull that was very wide. We took lots of pictures and called AJ (a young guide) to bring the truck. We were freezing by this time, but I had no complaints with the result. We loaded the bull on the truck and headed back to camp.

Angelo skinned and caped the animal and then we had lunch. Fog and snow hindered the other hunters, so we were hoping for a break in the weather. That afternoon we headed to the Wyoming border to glass for elk for the other hunters. The snow was deeper as we went further north and we saw many branch antlered bulls in the 320- to 340-inch class.

After a great dinner and Monday night football, it was off to bed. I didn’t get up quite as early the next morning but taped the and he had a score of 375 4/8 and was 47 inches wide. We loaded the meat in the truck and I said my goodbyes to the crew and headed off to drop the meat at the locker plant. It was definitely worth the wait.

5 thoughts on “26 Years – Worth the Wait”

  1. That is pretty awesome. Great shot! I couldn’t imagine waiting 26 years for an Elk draw. Up here, we can hunt 6 points and in some areas, 3-6 points, no draws…just a licence. However, Bison draws are like that for us, it could take years and years. It took me 11 years to get a Bison draw and I got my nice Bull Bison last year at a similar distance shot, 375 yard shot. If only game was more plentiful eh? Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Another great story Craig. What rifle did you use?
    I grew up in Southern Oregon – where Mulies were HUGE in the 50’s and 60’s and Elk scarce – but recently a 406? – 7×7 monster bull was shot just outside of town – Klamath Falls, Ore.
    Tom Schiff – now in SD

  3. If you had to wait longer to draw that tag you may have been able to use your walker as a rifle rest! Proud of you Doug

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