Craig took center stage in the hunting world recently, when writers and editors from national hunting publications traveled to the city to experience what it had to offer.
Elkhorn Outfitters hosted a hunt last week in its Pilot Camp north of town, where a group of hunters came to hunt elk in the high country.
Among those visiting were Mike Schoby, editor-in-chief of Petersen’s Hunting Magazine. Schoby said Craig is a place he likes to visit regularly to get stories for his magazine.
“This is my sixth Craig trip,” Schoby said. “It’s a pretty special place. This year I’ve been in Spain, Argentina, Africa and Canada, but every year we try to get to a place like Craig. We have to do a story on elk hunting and you want a photo with that story. You can’t do it any better than here.”
As an editor of a major hunting magazine, Schoby is traveling to locations for hunting, fishing and hiking stories about 150 days a year, he said, but Craig is a place he can count on for a good experience.
“The elk population is huge here,” he said. “I grew up my whole life elk hunting in western Washington and you can go two or three days without actually seeing elk there. Every day here we’ve seen elk.”
Brad Fenson, a writer for North American Hunter, also was staying for a week in the high country with Elkhorn. After returning from a morning hunt for lunch, Fenson said he was having a blast.
“It’s been awesome, we’ve encountered elk every day,” Fenson said. “We were able to call one up and just watch him for about 10 minutes yesterday.”
Fenson enjoys being among the elk, but his trip became a bigger success when he got a kill on the morning hunt.
“We had seven of them bugling and running around until we finally got a shot at one and shot a nice six by six,” he said.
Adam McKean, an editor for Outdoor Life Magazine, lives in Montana and was visiting Craig to hunt for a shorter period. But less time in Colorado didn’t keep him from getting an elk as well.
“I’ve hunted Colorado quite a bit, but never this particular place,” McKean said. “There’s a lot of (elk). They’re not trophy class, but you see so many animals. I shot a bull the first day I was here and it’s a bull I would have shot any time.”
Craig was one contributing factor to the hunters’ success, but they also enjoyed the help of expert elk-caller Wayne Carlton. Carlton, of Montrose, was the first to figure out how to call elk with a diaphragm call.
His expertise brought elk in from afar on all the hunts.
“Wayne Carlton is quite the pied piper, it’s been cool having him,” Schoby said.
The hunters had success, but Craig had more draw than just the likelihood of getting a kill. The environment at the Elkhorn camp made it a top-notch trip.
“With all the scenery and critters and getting to (hunt) on horseback, it really adds to the excitement,” Fenson said. “It makes it an adventure”
McKean felt the same.
“This might be the most classically beautiful elk habitat I’ve ever seen,” he said. “This high plateau, aspens turning color, lots of grassy meadows where they like to come out and feed.
Elkhorn hosts people in the hunting media most years, and it is something co-owner Dick Dodds likes to do because of its positive impact on Craig.
“I think the best part is its great for the community because the first thing you’ll see in all these articles is Craig, Colorado,” Dodds said. “And that’s the thing, if it doesn’t go for all of us, it’s not as good.”
Craig’s reputation as a hunting mecca is well-known, but Dodds hopes giving seasoned hunters a week-long experience in beautiful wilderness with elk all around will only help the word spread more.
If Schoby’s impressions are any indication, that will be the case.
“As fun as it is being out hunting, a magazine has to go out the door every 30 days,” Schoby said. “You can only take so many trips. When we pick Craig a lot, it really says something about the place. We could go to Montana, Idaho, but we come here because it’s really good.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact him with your hunting stories.