Seventeen is pretty young to even consider hunting the mighty bulls that roam the trophy units of northwest Colorado.
For high school senior Alexis Blomquist, already a successful cow elk and antelope hunter after five years in the field, getting the call to chase one of those trophy bulls last fall was a huge thrill – but not totally out of the norm.
“I told my teachers on the first day of school that I needed two weeks off in the fall to hunt,” Blomquist said.
Her father, Lee J., and mother, Nikki, were surprised when an email from Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced that Alexis had drawn a bull tag in Game Management Unit 10, a trophy hunting unit bordering the Green and Yampa rivers near Dinosaur. As a big game hunter by the age of 12, Alexis already had acquired five preference points – enough to win a lottery drawing in the hybrid-hunt category, a program created to encourage youths to participate in Colorado’s big game hunts.
As is often the case with youth hunts, the event quickly became a family affair.
“Dad scouted weeks before the hunt,” Alexis said. “We had the camp set up and family and friends helped.”
The hunt would last 10 of the 11 days in the season, and having patience was not always easy.
“I passed on a lot of elk early,” Blomquist said. “Once I asked if I should shoot a bull, and my dad said to wait. That one was too small.”
Shouldering her custom, left-handed Mossberg 7mm, she would spot many bulls, and even lose sight of one “really big bull.” But scouting in the early morning hours with her father paid off when the pair spotted a nice bull on a neighboring mountainside.
A three-mile hike around the mountain allowed the hunters to approach the animal from a higher position before evening settled in. Knowing that downhill shots require special tactics, Alexis turned to her father for advice.
“I told her, ‘I have him at 300 yards,’” Lee J. said. “Hold dead on him.”
Alexis recalls every detail of the moment.
“The wind was blowing … It was right before dark,” she said. “It got cold fast when I was setting up to shoot. There were (elk) cows above us and I got him in my scope.”
One shot. Right behind the shoulder.
“He went down,” she said.
After field dressing the bull, the hunters returned to camp for much-needed rest while the animal cooled. Returning with friends the next morning, the team was able to cape out, de-bone and trek out with the bull by nightfall.
Alexis’ first bull was truly a hunt of a lifetime, and the unique battle scars of the trophy made it all the more memorable.
“He had one broken point, and a third point that curled around into a club,” she said.
Besides a freezer full of meat, the head is going in for a shoulder mount, because a hunt like this does not come along every year. Just ask her father.
“I drew a trophy tag 19 years ago,” Lee J. said. “Hers is better than mine.”
Returning to high school after such a hunt had teachers and students asking, “You shot that?” To which Alexis proudly replies, “And I packed it out, too.”
If the goal of the hybrid-draw lottery youth hunts is to promote hunting for youngsters, it seems to be working well on this Craig youth.
“My grandpa, dad and cousin all got bears,” she said. “I want to shoot a bear.”