THE JOYS OF BEING STUCK IN A RUT
Imagine you have to plan a trip – more than a year in advance – that involves expensive fees, licenses, airfare and taking a week off from running your business. Now imagine that your success that week as an archery hunter will largely depend on the timing of the Colorado Elk mating season. Oh yeah, and the mating season isn’t the exact same time every year. It is a crazy week-to-10 day period triggered by a precise ratio of light hitting the pupils of these massive elk and the estrus cycle of the cows with whom they mate.
Exactly what tools would you use to go about making your best educated guess to plan that adventure? Well, the first thing to consider is personal and recent past experience. If you have travelled to the same place in the past, when did you go and how close were you to the rut in that hunting area? Did you miss it by a week?- were you early or late? How has the weather this year compared to that year as far as seasonal timing goes, has it been darker and stormier or has it been clearer and sunnier? If you have never been to this hunting spot in the past, you may need to rely on someone else’s experience. With hunters,
this can be tricky to navigate. Even very close friends and family can get a bit cagey about sharing archery intel, but if you are a decent social media stalker, you can figure some things out without being led on a snipe hunt or asking too many personal questions.
If you are headed to a guided hunting resort, checking out the web page and trophy shots is a good indicator of past weeks of high success. The same is true for archery record books and regional stats. After all, there is still a season to deal with here – you can only hunt in the confines of the legal season where you are choosing to stalk; so that, in and of itself, narrows your date range down a bit.
There is some science and a lot of magic behind timing the archery Elk rut in Colorado. Tables that track the daylight hours and the number of gestation days (typically 240-262) of the calves counting back from the most births observed usually in late May or early June can pretty accurately define what happened last year – but this year will be a whole new ball game. However, most seasoned hunters will tell you, there are lots of hunters that enjoy the pre-rut when the elk are still in the high country even more than the rut itself. One thing is for certain, whether you are talking the pre-rut or the rut, the excitement comes from how distracted these elk are and how that distraction during typically inactive hours, makes them vulnerable to the equally excited archery hunter putting on the stalk.
For all of us unfortunate Covid-stranded, forced-to-work-from-home writers, being stuck in a rut has far more negative connotations. Like not properly dressing the lower half of one’s body for months on end or carrying on full blown conversations with your dog, with whom you share your home office. But this Colorado Elk rut sounds pretty fun for almost everybody. In preparing for one of the hunting shows, @TheMaverick, we produce here at REVOL, one of our favorite return hunting parties, The Laugles, finally hit the archery elk rut this year after three years of missing it on either side. It was such a joy to see such a fun family and work colleagues, who have fun honestly no matter what they do, have all the stars align and have every member of the 6-man hunting party take down a bull!
As I sit here, completely zoom camera ready from the waist up, I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy – how exciting! How they must have celebrated after three years of trying so hard to be there all together for this once-a-year event. The stories of how the elk were moving and the crazy things they saw and heard sounded so not like my life in my “different” kind of rut. On the bright side, I shouldn’t have to worry about being shot at, so there’s that. Cheers to the rut!