Colorado Big 9 Award Winner, Andrew Munsell
Trevon: Welcome Andrew, introduce yourself and tell the folks who you are and where you come from.
Andrew Munsell: Thanks for having me. I feel pretty honored to share my experiences. I’m a bowhunter in Colorado and I just love the sport. Currently, I work at Hamskea Archery Solutions. I’m co-owner there, and I moonlight at Ball Aerospace during the daytime. Don’t ask me which one I’d prefer to do, they’re both great to have, and contribute to. They both stimulate me mentally and one bridges over to the other. You might see some of that technology in the Hamskea products that we bring to market. I’m a family man, my daughter goes to CSU. I’m rich in family, rich in bowhunting and that’s kind of who we are and what I am.
Trevon: Let’s jump right in. So first, tell me when did you start bowhunting?
Andrew Munsell: So I was a kid in Illinois, probably about 13 years old. The neighbor kid I hung out with, he had a Pearson Bow. I can’t remember the name of it, but he got it for Christmas, and I was so jealous. So I saved some money and bought one. That’s when I started killing my first deer...when I was about 13 years old.
Trevon: Who would you attribute got you into bowhunting? Was it seeing your friend or did somebody come along and mentor you?
Andrew Munsell: My dad was a big game hunter. Actually, part of my life growing up was here in Fort Collins and he would rifle hunt elk and deer in Colorado. But he gave it up when we moved back East. He said it just wasn’t the same after you’ve been out West hunting. It was just my love of the outdoors. My dad didn’t whitetail hunt but he took me hunting. He taught me how to hunt. He passed on the tradition. Hunting and outdoors was in me. I trapped and fished. I did all those things before and after school. Archery was something when I did it, I started getting my motivation back for the most part. So I was pretty excited about that. I just remember going to Walmart back in the day and pining over the archery stuff on the wall and conspiring what I was going to buy. For some reason, archery stuck with me. I don’t know actually how it transpired but I found myself in a tree stand. I knelt in a tree on a neighbor’s cornfield, trying to kill a deer.
FAVORITE BIG GAME TO HUNT
Trevon: So if you could just pick one, what would you say is your favorite big game to hunt?
Andrew Munsell: Oh, man. Looking around my room, I got the stuff hanging on the walls. I think they all have a very unique and distinct style and some of those things crossover. I love it all, quite frankly. They’re all a little bit different. They’re all really, really challenging to me, to this day. My favorite is anything that gets me outdoors in the mountains.
Trevon: How do you prepare yourself for bowhunting?
Andrew Munsell: It’s age dependent. When I was younger, I’d just grab stuff and go. As I get older, I’m training year round. I don’t go crazy or anything, but I’ll lift three times a week and I’ll do some form of cardio two times a week. So the older you get, for me anyway, the more work it takes to be competitive in the mountains and it takes energy. So I’m committed to that and like anything else you do, if you want to be successful...preparation meets opportunity...we call that luck. I want to make sure I’m as prepared for luck and opportunity as I can get so I don’t go crazy. I’m not a gym rat or anything. I got some stuff in the garage. I got my pack with a sandbag in it, and I just do what I do.
Trevon: What are you doing now archery wise to prepare yourself for the bowhunting?
Andrew Munsell: I think we all can appreciate life responsibilities tug on you. As much as you would like to do or more, that time can get minimized. So first and foremost, I always make sure my gear is tuned totally up to snuff. There is a lot of time spent getting my bow dialed in. Then I leave it, I don’t tinker anymore. I might spend four to six, seven weeks dialing in my hunting bow about this time of year. Spring is a great time to revisit tuning. Then I just shoot it and monitor the performance of the bow. I’ll make small tweaks as I practice throughout the summer. Practice ramps up as the opener comes up, whether it’s antelope or elk or whatever. I shoot broadheads all year round. That’s another thing. My field points are broadheads. They fly in the same spot. That’s what I mean by tuning it. So I can shoot either one, but I will just shoot broadheads all year. It helps me to be very comfortable with my equipment and my shot execution.
LET’S TALK HUNTING METHOD
Trevon: Do you have a favorite method to bowhunt, like calling versus spot and stalk versus an ambush?
Andrew Munsell: I’m a spot and stalk guy. I know calling can get you excited. I have called in deer and elk and whatnot. But being sneaky in their own living room, wherever they live, and outsmarting them, outwitting them, being quiet, that’s what I enjoy the most. I just feel really accomplished when I do that.
Trevon: I’m going to mention real quickly The Colorado Big Nine. In 2017, you achieved the award for the Colorado Big Nine. It includes whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, antelope, mountain goat, mountain lion, moose, bighorn sheep and black bear. So I’m going to give you the species and you tell me where that was. Don’t tell us the drainage, but in the general vicinity, eastern Colorado or northwest Colorado. Let’s start with your whitetail deer. That’s what you grew up doing. So your whitetail deer in Colorado.
Andrew Munsell: Okay, the whitetail is the significant one because it gave me the eight and the nine. It was the last one I shot. So I wrote that article for the CBA to share my experience. I had shot the shiras moose and I had eight of the 10 species, and I said, “Hey, do I qualify?”They said, “No, I know you have eight of the 10. But you don’t have the base eight. So you don’t have eight.” I was like, “You’re kidding.” The last one was whitetail. I had always been putting in for mule deer and hunted mule deer, and I thought, “Gosh, I got to go shoot the whitetail deer where I started to get this thing.” So that’s what’s super memorable about that, is it actually checked the box for the eight and the nine with one species. That’s how that ended up.
Trevon: Okay, mule deer. I know you’ve killed various mule deer. But do you remember the first one you killed in Colorado?
Andrew Munsell: I was living in Arizona and we were down in southern Colorado hunting public land. If you ever see a spike and you’re like, “I’m just going to draw back and practice.” You know what happens then. That was the first mule deer I ever killed in Colorado, tasted great by the way. That was one of the best tasting deer. So like you said, I’ve shot several since then, but that was the first one I killed in Colorado. I guess I filled my tag. I was elk hunting, so it’s okay.
MOST MEMORABLE HUNT - ELK
Trevon: Elk, let’s talk about your most memorable elk that you killed in Colorado.
Andrew Munsell: So, I’ve got a couple, but the one I would say that’s most memorable is when I got invited by my good friend, Jeremy, to go to his spot. So, we went to the spot and he had been hunting with another partner. I felt like the third wheel. “I’ll just hang back and see how it goes and not say we should be over there or there.” We did that for a few days and during that time, we would hear these elk. We’d come up to this rim and we’d be like, “Wow, look at all those elk down there. We were four and a half miles in and I’m like, “Yeah, I don’t want to shoot one down there because... I ain’t doing that. We don’t want to have llamas, goats, or horses.” So, we had a few excursions trying to chase them. Those guys had to leave, and I said, “I don’t know if I’m going to hunt this spot again or get invited.” So I decided to stay. I was out there by myself. I’m like, “I’m going to hunt to the end. Even if I kill it on Sunday, I’ll take Monday off. I’ll pack it out. That’s kind of what happened. I spot and stalked this bull, snuck up on him,and shot him. I was pretty excited. Field dressing it, I sliced my finger open really bad. I had to tape it up. I had to hang the bull, quarter it, and debone it with, basically holding the gauze on my finger. So from where he was the truck was six miles away. I took a load to the truck, got on the truck, drove to Steamboat Springs to get medical attention. Then I went back in to get the rest. It was pretty memorable! Don’t do that. Don’t chop your finger off when you’re in the woods.
Trevon: So how about Antelope?
Andrew Munsell: Ah, so south central Colorado. Didn’t know what I was doing. This is a perseverance story. I’m by myself for seven days. If you’ve ever hunted by yourself for seven days and never talked to anybody, you kind of wonder if you can still speak to another human being. So last day, I saw a couple shooters. I had the trailer loaded and was leaving the next morning. This is my last shot, I’m thinking “Man, I don’t know.” One of my favorite sayings to myself is, “You just don’t know until you go.” So I do the belly crawl and sneak and whatnot. I finally got my opportunity. I shot that antelope and I could have checked up and turned my truck around and went back to camp. But I decided, “No, I’m going to hunt every day, every opportunity I have”, and that’s one reason why it’s very memorable for me.
Trevon: Wow. Mountain goat. Now that’s one of the ones that...I consider mountain goat, moose, and sheep as...You kind of got to be a little lucky just to be in the hunt.
Andrew Munsell: Oh totally. So about the mountain goat hunt, it makes me remember a good friend of ours, Kurt Geist, who’s since passed away, God rest his soul. He had hunted that unit before. We were chatting up and I told him, I said, “Man, I might draw this year. I’m kind of getting to that point.” I draw the tag. I couldn’t believe it. I’m like, “Man, I got to start training.” I mean if there’s a hunt to train for, unless you draw a sheep tag and some of those units, mountain goat will definitely test you. So Kurt showed me a few spots, where to camp, how to hunt the area, etc. I ended up killing a nanny. I wasn’t going to be very picky. I don’t know when I’m going to get this tag again. That was a pretty proud moment for me as a bowhunter. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen for a long time. I think I killed it on the fourth day, which seems short now that I say it. Base camp was at 12,600. I hunted that solo, as well, and then hiked up to the pass at 13,200 every day and hunted. So very demanding, very memorable. They’re like little cotton balls running around. That was a really cool, cool hunt.
Trevon: Mountain Lion. A lot of people don’t think much about that. But the fact of the matter is, when you’re mountain lion hunting, most of the time you’re using dogs. For me, the kill part is not as climactic as a mountain goat or something that you have to persevere if you’re hunting with dogs. However, the wonder that I found in mountain lion hunting was watching those dogs work. To me, it was mind blowing. How’d you do it?
Andrew Munsell: Well it was kind of interesting. So I moved here and I just want to hunt. I can’t wait to hunt Colorado, right? Then I meet this guy at Archery in the Wild through the tournaments. You may have heard of him. His name’s Shawn Greathouse. We strike up a conversation and Shawn’s like, “Yeah, I’m going for my big eight.” I’m like, “Big eight? Conference? like Nebraska?” I was literally wondering, “What do you do?” I had no clue. So, he proceeds to tell me and I’m thinking, “Wow, that’s that’s pretty cool.” I wondered if I could do it, I’m 36 years old, maybe I can do it. That’s how it happened for me. So, getting back to the mountain lion, I’m thinking “I’ve got like five of these. I’m kind of thinking about maybe just going for it.” Mountain lion, I would say most bowhunters, it’s just not something you’re like, “I’m going to go mountain lion hunting every year,” unless you’re a houndsman. You have your own hounds, because that’s what you love. I found a good houndsman through some contacts I have in the industry here in Colorado. After I contacted him, my hunt was pretty short. It was bittersweet. The first day, there wasn’t much action. The next day it snowed. The snow was light powder and we went back out. We quickly cut a fresh track. This was a pretty decent track! We let the dogs out, and they treed it right away. We closed in to look at it and I’m like, “Well I guess I’ll shoot it.” So that’s how I got my mountain lion. I didn’t get to experience what many have told me about mountain lion hunting. I’ve heard how hard it really can be. So I think I was extremely fortunate to have the one and out kind of thing. It was possible to extend the trip to shoot something bigger, but I’m not a trophy guy. The mountain lion was one of the best eating, tasting animals. I don’t know who’s reading this but you might not think that. I’m here to tell you that was really good.
Trevon: I’m pretty familiar with your moose hunt because I edited the video. Shawn Greathouse did a phenomenal job of capturing it on video. I was able to utilize it and we put a pretty fun film together on that. But tell us a little about the moose hunt.
Andrew Munsell: Again, it’s one of those things... Maybe I should start putting in for moose because that seems pretty cool and novel, even before I knew about the Colorado Big Eight. When I found out I drew the tag, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Shawn was so mad because he had been putting in for decades with no success. I had to lock my windows and get remote start on my car. I think I drew with three and five or something and he was not happy with me. I can tell you that. The hunt was extremely memorable just because of the comradery, save the hunt. That year my father passed away. If you remember the video, you’re like, “Those guys are tearing up on a moose hunt. What’s the deal?” My father had passed away a couple months before that. It was very emotional for me to do that because of what he taught me as an outdoorsman. So, all that said, what I really found enjoyable about that hunt was Shawn being there keeping me mentally going. It was a bit of a grind. It was sure nice to be able to call my friends when it was pack out time. Knowing that those people are there in the bowhunting community that will drop everything is awesome. Two of the guys work together and they both got my text and they looked at each other. They were in a meeting. They’re like, “Yeah, we got to go.” They dropped everything and left to help me. It speaks volumes. In the bowhunting community and club, I don’t care where you are or where you hunt, there is that tribal community where people just come and help you. That was fantastic.
Trevon: Yeah, I’ve had a chance to experience a little bit of that myself.
Andrew Munsell: Yeah, you got your moose last year. Congratulations. You’re well on the path, right?
Trevon: I am if I could ever get the next one we’re going to talk about, which is a bighorn. I’ve got a mountain goat and my moose, now I need my bighorn.
Andrew Munsell: All right, yeah, you’re right there. Bighorn, again, I’m just a guy that puts in. I don’t do a lot of research. I have a network and talk to people and this was a unit that was on the decline. This is interesting, I go to scout it and I don’t see anything. It’s a pretty small area you can hunt. I don’t see anything. Then one day, I saw a ram with a couple ewes and was able to get some video. I showed the ram to Shawn and he thought the ram was probably worth shooting. It was an interesting hunt. I went back and forth. I’d hunt three days, come home for two. Go up for three days just so the sheep would come in and out of that area. I finally found them. Long story short, they come onto the public, I got to the other side and above them. They come up after they get water and they’re literally 15 yards below me. I’m on the side of the hill that’s naked, just got gray rocks. I stood there and I was in that position for 46 minutes... the ram came up and bedded about 22 yards from me but he was behind a boulder. The ewes would come up and look at me. They’d look at me and go back to feeding around 20 to 40 yards below me. Finally, one got too close. She was about 12 yards away and ended up busting me. They blew out of there and I ran around the corner, ranged the ram at 40 and shot him. So that’s how I got that, that was pretty exciting.
Trevon: That’s awesome. The last to complete your Colorado Big Nine is the black bear.
Andrew Munsell: Yeah, I don’t know about other people but black bear, they don’t hang out in groups. They don’t graze in the open. They’re solitary animals. Over the years we hunted mule deer in this area and we’d see bears occasionally. So I had a couple opportunities. but this particular one, it was the year I killed my moose. I said, “I’m going to duck out of work early and bomb down there, do the multi hour drive because of the thermals and the way the drainage was, the bears come out of the hills and I have to get the thermals right. It’s perfect. So I’m just going to jam down there.I threw my stuff on at the truck and started hunting my way up and I saw this bear. If you’re a squirrel hunter, which I grew up squirrel hunting, you see the trees moving, the wind blowing in a pattern. You see one doing like this and other ones are doing that. You’re like, “Oh, something’s there.” I saw this brown patch and I couldn’t believe there was a bear in there. It got to the point where I was behind this little bush and I thought, “I’m going to be shooting this thing at about, I don’t know...feet.” There was a little stream with water covering my sound as I worked up to him. Anyway, he pulls off and starts feeding and I shot him. I couldn’t believe it. I had been hunting bear even in Arizona and just never could connect. For me, it’s one of the harder species to connect on. So I was really proud of that.
Trevon: What a cool set of memories.
Andrew Munsell: Yeah, totally.
Trevon: I’m going to get a little bit off topic, not off topic. Let’s change directions here. What would you say is your biggest miss, maybe your biggest disappointment in the woods bowhunting?
Andrew Munsell: My biggest miss. I got to think about that one. I’ve missed a lot. There’s so many to recall from. I know every bowhunter shoots one arrow a year and kills whatever they’re aiming at. Well for the record, maybe off the record, I’ve never missed. But if I were to have missed, there’s two that I would get back. There is one that I replay in my mind to this day. I was living in Arizona and shooting a single cam bow. Back then, every manufacturer made one, and I was new to hunting. I really didn’t know what I was doing, still don’t, quite frankly. But I’m in this area I find and it’s in the evening. I glance up, it’s probably just short of 110 inch Coues buck close to me. It is a tank! I’m like, “Holy cow.” I go sneak up. Remember when I mentioned tuning your bow, getting comfortable with it, putting yourself in a shot situation so you know how the bow’s going to fit you? Well, I decided it’d be really smart of me, Trev, on a single cam bow to stretch out my draw length just a little bit to get that extra speed. I got to have that speed because I’m hunting in Arizona. I’ve got a flat trajectory. This damn thing shows up at 30 yards and I’m shooting uphill, kind of steep. What happens when you shoot uphill, you kind of creep. You ever creep on a single cam bow? It is a bad day. I missed it by a foot. You could say, “Oh, are you sure you didn’t twitch or flinch?” Yeah, maybe I did a little bit. but I’ll never forget it. If you ever creep tune your bow on a single cam bow, you’ll know how sensitive they were. They aren’t around anymore but they’re super sensitive to if you creep and shoot, they go out the top. That’s the one that, boy, if I had that one back, I dream about having that one back. That’s the one that sticks right here.
THE ONE THING
Trevon: Yes. All right, besides your bow, your arrows, your broadheads, your release, what’s the one thing you won’t leave behind when you head out bowhunting?
Andrew Munsell: The one thing I never leave is my binoculars. There’s the old adage, “You can’t kill what you can’t see.” I don’t care if you’re whitetail hunting or glassing across the desert. If you are gllassing across a canyon, watching elk or whatever, by far, the most important piece to tackle is a good set of binoculars. I would rather go hunting without my range finder and good binoculars than the other way around.
Trevon: That’s good. What is the one mistake you think new bowhunters make? You’ve done a lot to help new bowhunters. So what do you think is the one mistake new bowhunters make?
Andrew Munsell: I think the mistake they make is thinking, “I’m ready. I’m dialed in.” Then they get out there and the conditions change, and how do you simulate those conditions? They think, “I’m proficient here.” But that’s what led me to 3D archery is how do you simulate, “I got to make this shot with people watching? How do I prepare myself.” How does that prepare you for, “There’s the bull standing there. This is my shot.” I think people don’t do enough of that.
LAST THREE QUESTIONS
Trevon: That’s good. I am going to ask you three more questions and then we’ll wrap it up.
Andrew Munsell: Okay.
Trevon: Why, and I think you might have even addressed this already, but why do you bowhunt?
Andrew Munsell: There’s a lot of reasons. I think bow hunting every year, it makes me appreciate what I have, the luxuries that we all have in modern society. If I’m hungry, I’m going to go swing by the 7 Eleven or whatever. The idea is that it brings me back to this primitive lifestyle. We have modern gear and Gore-Tex and all this fancy stuff these days. That aside, the idea that you have to pursue an animal, go through that process, and the idea of killing it is not the goal. It’s the sense of satisfaction of accomplishment. That’s why I’m not a trophy hunter. It’s the accomplishment of pursuing, fair chase, putting an animal on the ground, and then appreciating the animal for what it does. That thing is out here 365 days a year and everything is trying to eat it. They don’t have Gore-Tex and they can’t go to the grocery store. It just gives me a huge sense of appreciation for the animal. This makes me feel a little more connected to this world we live in because what I see in a lot of people, they are so disconnected from what it takes to have fresh water. You got to go pump your water. What’s the first thing you do, what’s the second thing you do when you get to your campsite? You put up your shelter and then you go get water. So all of that stuff just grounds me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m sleeping on the ground to this day. But it just grounds me and what we should appreciate when we come back to our modern lifestyles and what we shouldn’t take for granted every day.
Trevon: That’s a great answer. Why would you encourage anyone to join the CBA?
Andrew Munsell: A couple of reasons. I’m a big advocate of CBA. What’s great about organizations is there is a group of people, an organization that is working on your behalf. It’s kind of like our military. They’re working on our behalf to make sure we’re safe. I’ll admit all the stuff they do day to day, I might not want to know all the details. But I want to know that I’m safe and protected. So organizations, that’s what they do. They have your best interest in mind. CBA, I admire the folks that continue to give their time to campaign, if you will, at the legislature on our behalf to bring our voice. What’s important to us as a collective is what I appreciate about the CBA and what I recommend when I talk to others. The other thing is the Colorado Big Nine, the acknowledgments they have. The CBA banquet. The seminars, it’s just a place to get educated for new bowhunters. It’s a great place to network. No one’s going to tell you, drop the pin for you, tell you exactly where to hunt. But, if you want to talk to people, understand things, get connected with a club, get recommendations for pro shops, there’s no better place than to engage in a group that has the exact same interest that you do. the CBA is that organization. There’s that comradery. I could be anywhere in the United States with that sticker on my truck. If you see another CBA member, they’re probably going to pull over and chat you up, which is kind of cool. So you don’t have to be accomplished. That’s the membership that CBA represents. That’s the people that are in it, pretty cool.
Trevon: That’s awesome. Well, I really appreciate your time tonight Andrew.
Andrew Munsell: You got it. I just want to give a shout out to everyone else, eight, nine, 10, one, two, three, four, bowhuntings with us. It’s in us. It’s who we are. So let’s just keep it rolling.