Day 1 ended as it began: Empty. It was dark as dark can get. I've never seen so many stars. My dad used to describe deer camp nights as, "Someone spilled salt on a pitch-black table cloth." I would say he was right on the money. They were everywhere. I wish the same could be said for the deer.
The landscape is absolutely outstanding. From the highway heading east from my inlaws house, 80% of the view is filled with Mesas. I'm not sure how many make up the chain, but there are a lot, and they are right there. Not more than five minutes away in fact. My beloved Rocky Mountains are in sight from my house, but they are 45 minutes out with light traffic.
Once you reach the 10000+ foot table-top of Grand Mesa, (really just matter of minutes via numerous switchbacks) you are greeted by a wide variety of vegetation ranging from scrub brush to eons old Juniper trees. They were once just bushes, but I say any plant that is taller than me is a tree. These things are huge.
After a morning filled with plenty of mishaps and too little sleep, we drove to a state wildlife area near the city of Colbran. We toyed with the idea of walking the area in order to break the Mule Deer out of their beds, but the heat of the day and head to toe Realtree AP forced us to settle nicely into a makeshift natural ground blind.
Coyote howled and barked in every direction. Rifle hunters readied their weapons for the coming rifle season, and the pounding, unrelenting sun sealed our fate.
The last estimate I saw on the Grand Mesa Deer herd population put them somewhere near 29000+. The tracks and droppings we found might very well support that estimate. There are literally trails that intersect four different ways that are loaded with prints of various animals on the Mesa. I'm fairly certain we were able to identify a rather large and unsettling black bear track as well. Front paw-print to back paw-print was about 5 to 5 1/2 feet. Good bear for out here. I would love to get an idea of what the skull could...
Last edited by Colorado Rick; 09-23-2008 at 11:57 PM.