Borderlands: Hunting and Fishing the CO/NM Border

Borderlands: Hunting and Fishing the CO/NM Border

For years I have been telling Kim we would back into fishing and go on an elk hunt, but mountain biking, backpacking, and other adventures took priority. This year was about getting back to my roots and committing to an elk hunt and finally filling in the missing pieces on our fly fishing gear.

Luckily, I was able to draw an archery elk tag for Unit 52 in Northern New Mexico earlier this year, which forced us to make good on our goals. Likewise, our good friend Jason made it his personal mission to get on some fish. A lot of things had to fall into place, but once they did we were on the ground running.

Jason set the date: we would backpack into a tributary to the Conejos River just across the Colorado border called Elk Creek and get our first real taste of some rocky mountain fishing. Kim and I were in for a treat: Elk Creek is absolutely beautiful and we pursued trout all day long. It’s been about 7 years since I last cast a fly and it showed, but after some practice, I was able to land a small trout. This was Kim’s very first time and unfortunately, she was unable to hook up. Thankfully, Jason had no issues and returned to camp with some dinner.

It felt amazing to get back on the water and pursue some fish and gave Kim and me a lot to work on this winter. Knowing how good the water and fish are just a mere 2 hours north of Santa Fe provides plenty of motivation.

Our minds were now focused on the big hunt. All year I had been practicing my shots and trying to get back into the ninja mindset for a week out in the woods pursuing elk. Fortunately, my father was able to get a tag for the unit, which suddenly added a whole other level of excitement for our hunt. It took little prodding to get my uncle, Scott, to commit to flying down and exploring some of Northern New Mexicos mountains. This was also Kim’s first elk hunting experience.

The hunt did not disappoint. We were able to get into elk everyday and had a few hair raising moments with some bulls. I missed a chip-shot at 20 yards with a 4×4 bull, but that story is only worth sharing in person. Overall, spending a week in the Carson National Forest, sneaking through aspen stands and big parks, and goofing off with family was an amazing experience. Despite the lack of blood, we will be back. I’ll leave the stories for another time.

In the same area is the Great Sand Dunes National Park where Kim and I backpacked into on our very first date. A quick side trip was a good way to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. We both had forgotten how spectacular this place is. Wow.

While there are a million stories inbetween to tell, I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Spending weeks this summer and fall around the Chama/Antonito/Taos borderlands area have been an eye-opening experience. We are truly lucky to have such unspoiled public lands at our doorstep and now look forward to exploring so much more.

With any luck, I’ll be able to secure some more elk tags and keep dragging my father and uncle down here for further adventures, maybe get them swinging flys as well. Until then, time to start looking towards the mountains, awaiting the first snows.