Paying for grocery store “meat” is costly, and you have no idea what is in that. If you are considering getting back to nature and hunting for your own food, or if you want to reduce your purchased food bill; hunting big game may be an option for you. If you are unfamiliar or want to learn more about hunting this is the article for you. From a prep process, you want to increase your odds of success, and get familiar with the process before a major disaster strike. This article will guide you some of the knowledge and direction necessary.
Review this site – http://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/BigGame.aspx
Decisions to be made –
What to hunt???
Not sure about your family/housing situation. Even first-year hunters will have a high success rate with elk hunting in this state; however, this does supply a very large amount of meat (roughly 150+ lbs. depending on cow/bull).
Mule deer depending on the area are usually fairly easy as well. Roughly 50+ lbs., and much simpler to pack out.
Antelope can be very gamey tasting, and usually only good for stews or jerky. Usually 50+ lbs.
Now, with all of that said…
You may want to use a guide service or someone who has hunted before to provide some hands-on training
You should watch a few videos on gutless method quartering, especially for elk
You should research big game animal behaviors, especially for elk
You will need to attend a CO hunters education class, prior to the season.
You will need appropriate gear (weather, camping, hunting) – see “Gear” article
You will need to find an area to hunt in (CO calls them GMU (Game Management Units))
You will need to schedule your hunt (this will depend on your weapon of choice)
You will need to site in your weapon and get VERY comfortable with it
You will need to spend roughly 6+ weeks prepping for success, hiking in altitude, wearing a heavy pack, scouting your hunting area, scent control eating
Guide services can be very useful during your initial learning stages. The price tag for this service is usually worth it for what you will learn during your first major hunting outing. Learning from an experienced hunter is also very good, but a little harder to find.
Having the appropriate gear will make your hunting adventure far more enjoyable. You don’t want to be cold, wet, hungry, thirsty or inadequately stocked for anything while you are on the side of the mountain. If you find a great spot to hunt, you don’t want to leave because you ran out of food/water.
Scheduling your hunt will push your level of preparation. Knowing the weather and understanding how the moon will affect your hunt may change how or when you schedule. Planning, in general, will increase your odds of success.
Weapon familiarity is the second most important component of this. Know and understand your weapon, your shot placement, your accuracy, your distance limitations all while taking a life during panic heartbeats. Know how fast you can reload for a follow up shot if needed.
Preparation is key to all of this. You should be in great shape, not just good, not average, but great. You are hunting something that is in the best shape of its life since the day it was born. You are hunting animals that go up and down the mountain at least twice a day or can travel up to 10 miles per day regardless of the terrain. While you may see animals while you are driving down the road, seldom is this a legal shot, and once hunting season starts these animals will go as deep into the hills as they can get to get away from people. Weather is not a factor them as they have adapted to deal with whatever nature throws at them, the gear in your pack will help you to overcome the weather obstacle. Knowing the area you are hunting (even an overview from google earth and topographic maps) will increase your odds of hunting success and reduce the chances of you getting lost or injured. Scent control is a thing, especially so if you are bow hunting. You will be hunting from a much closer proximity, and all of these animals have a fantastic sense of smell.
Get your gear together, pack it appropriately, and make sure you have everything you need. Tell someone where you are going.
Get up on the mountain, follow your plan and your schedule. Get where you are going, set up camp and get ready for opening day of the season.
Hike in, spot and stalk, tree stand hunting are all good options depending on your area, or animal type. Get away from the roads, get away from the other hunters, get back into the hills, get on your animals and look for the perfect opportunity for a shot.
You took a shot, now what? Sit tight and wait. With a rifle, you probably won’t have to wait more than a few minutes before your animal expires. With archery, you want to give it some time depending on shot placement (this could be 30 min to 4 hours). Find your blood trail and start tracking it. Slow and steady finds your animal in this race.
You dropped an animal, congratulations! Now the real work begins, take a deep breath, eat a snack, drink some water because you are going to need some energy. This is the time you wish you had watched that quartering video a few more times. Start by prepping your area, and your animal for pictures. Once you have your pictures, get ready for harvesting your meat off the animal.
Harvesting is very important from a legality perspective, as much as ensuring you are getting all salvageable meat from the animal that you worked so hard to get. Quarters, backstraps, tenderloins, organs, rib and neck meat plus proof of sex for DOW; get all you can and it could supplement your freezer for a year.
The pack out is the most difficult, and the most rewarding aspect of this. You are seeing your hard work and effort go into your coolers. Strap your meat in tight, tighten your shoulder straps, and ruck up as you have some hiking to do.
The celebration can now begin. I prefer a bit of backstrap steak to celebrate all of the hard work you just put in to get to this point.
The butchering is a process, whether you take to a shop or you do it yourself is your call. Best to know which meats work best for which cuts.
Hunting is not an easy task, but it is GREATLY rewarding, both in meat and experience. This is the first step in animal conservation (I know sounds wrong – how is hunting conserving animals? A different article), and a great additional step towards your own self-reliance. A true opportunity to show what you are capable of in the event of your own survival.
It’s not just about the hunt or the experience of the hunt, it’s also about improving your health by eating natural organic meat.
Wild game meat is far better for you over any store bought farmed meat. Far less cholesterol, low-fat content, healthier protein, and a better flavor overall.
There are a number of sites that you can visit to help point you in the right direction for your hunt. A few are listed below.
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