A couple of "firsts" for me in the rockies today...


September 25, 2010, 01:19 AM
Well, I took Friday off with the intention of heading to the high country to recharge the batteries and do a little hunting.

My agenda:

Hunt, and try to shoot, a ptarmigan, a blue grouse, and a marmot. I have shot a lot of things in my life but it just so happens the stars have never aligned for me to bag these critters.

So, I was up at the crack of dawn and headed up I-70 into the hills and working my way up towards the continental divide.


This particular forest service road quickly winds up above the tree line. I walked a few miles through some of this terrain looking for ptarmigan. I had no luck with the ptarmigan today:


I hit the top of the pass, appx. 12,500 ft, at 8:30 AM. It was sunny, light breeze, and 39 degrees. I hiked out and down the ridgeline just to check out the area. The big cirque type valley in the left-center of the picture caught my eye and I headed that direction:


Hiking along the ridge, still scouting - fresh snow!


Approaching the valley:


On the way in, bumped a lone blue grouse. He darted up the hill, so I let him go, got around the corner, and hiked up above him. I hunted slowly back down the hill, zig-zagging back to where I saw him. I stopped to listen and glass, when I saw a perfectly camouflaged grouse sitting on a stump in front of me. I took one step, and he launched himself across the hillside, right in front of me. I took a quick snapshot before he turned the corner around the ridge and caught him with a full load of lead 4's in the head :blush:


I finally made it to the valley that I intended to hunt for ptarmigan and marmot. As you can see, talus slopes surround the area. The valley wraps around about 270 degrees so this picture represents just a sliver of the area. The pictures do not so this area justice, trust me....


I have never hunted marmot in the high country, though always wanted to. So, I really wasn't sure if I was in the right habitat, and, even how these little guys look when you spot them.

What I found out was that with some patient glassing, when they're sunning themselves on a rock they can be pretty easy to spot. The first boulder field "section" I came to, I spotted a marmot on a rock. I settled my Remington 700 .204 Ruger down on my pack and pulled the trigger. My first marmot!


The .204 did a number on this guy........


The arrow is my gear. Marmot carnage in the bottom of the picture. 108 yards on the nose.


Having scouted all the way in, and hunting ptarmigan and grouse, it was getting late in the afternoon, but as you can see, there is a lot of good looking areas for marmots in this spot. I sat down and glassed and spotted a few more critters in the distance, but decided to leave them alone until I can get my 15 year old stepson into the valley with me.



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September 25, 2010, 08:26 AM
Thanks for the story and great pics.
Love that country out there.

September 25, 2010, 08:39 AM
Consider yourself lucky to have access to such beautiful hunting country. Thanks for sharing the hunt with us.

September 25, 2010, 08:53 AM
I for one would like to see more posts of hunting/shooting adventures here on thr.

I get tired of posts about what to kill someone with...if..if...multiple armed assailants blah, blah.

The Bushmaster
September 25, 2010, 09:56 AM
kbbailey...Wonder over to www.huntingnut.com They may have what you are looking for. These are not professional hunters. Just guys that enjoy hunting, sitting around a camp fire and telling stories.

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