I truly felt like I was leaving a group of my long-time friends when we pulled away from the lodge. My hat is off to Travis and the operation that you folks are running there! I hope you’ll have me back in the future as i can’t wait to have more friends join me for another visit to Cotton Mesa.
Just wanted to drop a quick note to say thank you for enabling me and my friend, Steve, to enjoy Cotton Mesa Ranch and all that it has to offer. Travis and your team truly made it a “hunt of a lifetime” for us. They anticipated every need and made sure that we enjoyed the experience from the time we pulled in the gate through the time we pulled away.
What an experience it was to see an abundance of these majestic animals, the Indian etching on a stone, and the terrain of the ranch in general.
Nothing stopped your people from making sure the trip was a success! Thank you so much for such a pleasant experience. I know you must be proud of your grandson, Travis. We thank him and all your employees!
The food far exceeded our expectations as Tad truly demonstrated pride and enjoyment in what he prepared for us…
I was privileged to have your grandson, Travis, as my personal hunting guide. He was wonderful in not only his guiding and expertise, but also his earnest efforts to see that all the hunters had every opportunity to have a grand hunting experience.
Thank you so much for all that your guides did for me during our stay there. The guides and employees at Cotton Mesa are superb and dedicated to making the hunting experience a great, lifetime memory.
Cotton Mesa Ranch! Wow! My guide Rickey Root was outstanding. His background of hunting and guiding experiences coupled with patience, perseverance, and keen eyesight made it possible for me to get my bull.
Just wanted to drop a quick note to say thank you… Travis and your team truly made it a “hunt of a lifetime”… My guide made it an experience I will never forget… The food far exceeded my expectations…
I truly felt like I was leaving a group of my long-time friends when we pulled away from the lodge… I hope you will have me back in the future; I cannot wait for another visit to Cotton Mesa.
I went to Cotton Mesa Ranch last week and had the best time of my life… I’ve never seen anything as beautiful… The amount of game and breath taking views is truly unbelievable… Thank you so much! I will see you next year!
Just a note to say thanks for a most enjoyable and outstanding hunting trip. Red and I will never forget the time we spent at Cotton Mesa, hope to see you all again soon.
You are to be congratulated on your masterpiece, both the ranch facilities and the game. I hope to return very soon to Cotton Mesa Ranch.
Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed myself at Cotton Mesa Ranch. The companionship, accommodations, guides and the food are unparalleled in the industry. I have never seen a group bust their tails so hard in order to makes sure you had not only a good time, but a “great” time.
Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to have hunted and fished in some very good areas and I have met some really great people along the way. However, I must say that I have never seen a place as beautiful as Cotton Mesa Ranch nor have I ever met nicer people than you, your guides and ranch staff.
We all had a fantastic 4 days. It was all I had hoped for and more!
This was truly a trip that I will always remember.
Your ranch is absolutely beautiful I must commend you on the décor as well as the layout and all that you have done out there. I am taking away a memory that will stay with me for a lifetime.
Cotton Mesa’s natural beauty was truly breathtaking, and I thoroughly enjoyed the hunting and magnificent scenery.
Thanks again for providing another cherished hunting memory. God bless.
Your ranch is absolutely unreal. Your genuine love of that land can be appreciated by everyone who shares that depth of affection for the natural world.
I wanted to thank you again for the incredible opportunity to hunt on the historic lands of Cotton Mesa. The ranch is the most beautiful combination of scenery and wildlife I have ever seen.
I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your hospitality and your hunting program. Thank you once again for the hunt and the experience.
Your ranch is amazing. We enjoyed every minute we were there. Thanks again for the hunt of a lifetime and my trophy elk.
Enjoyed the hunt…Cotton Mesa is truly beautiful. It gave me a chance to sit back and reflect on just how beautiful nature is. God did a great job on that area of the country. It looks like He is improving it even more with your hard work.
I want to thank you very much for the gracious hospitality which you offered on my recent hunt at Cotton Mesa. It was nothing short of a privilege to spend time at such a wonderful place. The elk program more than lives up to its incredible reputation.
I am proud of my elk trophy and impressed with your game management skills. Hope our trails cross again.
Just wanted to thank you for the great weekend and memories. We had a truly wonderful time at your ranch. The entire staff, lodge, and scenery were exceptional! It was a pleasure to hunt with your grandson Travis, you should be proud of such an outstanding young man. I am watching the calendar and counting the days until next year.
Thank you for making my first elk hunt a special and unforgettable experience. Cotton Mesa Ranch is beautiful and the staff could not be any better. Jared provided a dream hunt for me that I will always treasure.
Everything was perfect. The ranch, your friends and guests, the food, and of course the best Colorado elk hunt I could ever experience.
Mr. Carter, I had an absolutely wonderful time. I could not imagine a more beautiful place accompanied by the unforgettable experience had. Travis and Rusty did a fine job, and were an absolute pleasure to hunt with. Look forward to next year.
The ranch is a naturally beautiful place, and your “labors of love” have made it comfortable and elegant as well. It was a thrill for me and Nicholas to be able to hunt with Bill, we can truly say we have hunted with the best.
The hunt we spent with you and the great guides you have, was more important to me than any hunt I have ever been on.
Thank you with my sincerest appreciation for making a dream come true. It has always been a dream of mine to share a sport that I have loved and cherished with someone so special as my own son. It is something that I longed to do but have never accomplished because I could not find the right mix of dedicated people, geographic surroundings, and abundant, yet challenging species of wildlife. Your Cotton Mesa Ranch, your professional staff and the beautiful Colorado “Mesa de Mayo” country greatly exceeded my personal expectations. In closing, Mr. Carter, I would like to say it was and will always be a true honor to have shared a hunting camp with you.
Kudos Bill, I recently returned from my third elk hunt at your beautiful Cotton Mesa Ranch. Your staff is incredible and exhibited the most amazing hunting skills and knowledge I have witnessed in over 50 years of hunting. Cannot say enough good things about your operation.
Thanks again for a wonderful hunt, keep up the good work and keep Ol’ Bill healthy. Best regards.
Thank you for such a great hunt. Your ranch is beautiful. The hunt was excellent. Your staff was great. I will long remember the hours we spent riding the mesas. Thanks for spending the extra time telling me of the rich history found at Cotton Mesa.
I think I could use every superlative possible and still be short. It truly was a wonderful experience for me in all regards, from the trophy, through the conversation, accommodations, food, fellowship, new friends, guides, scenery, and on and on. Thanks to all for everything. You all are a great bunch of folks.
Articles From Our Guests
The Elk and Timeless Lands of Cotton Mesa Ranch
This past week, the bold bugling of bull elk filled the southeastern Colorado air. The sound is hypnotic, a timeless symbol of the West that draws hunters from everywhere.
On the way to Cotton Mesa Ranch, a 10,000-acre spread that begins 5,000 feet above sea level and tops out at 7,000 feet, Bill Carter and I stopped for groceries at Raton, N.M. An hour later, we reached the ranch.
We rolled out of camp late that first afternoon for a sort of orientation and introduction.
Taking it all in
The tops, bottoms, and benches between them support three succulent, native grasses that paint the flats a pale green. Violent geologic upheaval and volcanic activity split this ground eons ago, showering it with random stones in random sizes and creating those steps of lush habitat.
Draws that have funneled runoff since rain first fell here are flanked by the darker green of cedars, junipers and pinion pines that wick moisture from the damp soil.
We were not there to admire the scenery (although ignoring it is impossible). We were there to hunt bull elk.
My guides for this trip had roughly 75 or 80 years combined elk hunting experience. Unless dreams count, I had none.
We spent an afternoon scouting the wide end of a high mesa, an area where both men had seen quality bulls in the long shadows of previous days.
An approaching low-pressure system and brightening moon didn’t fully relocate the elk, but the changes did shuffle the times at which they fed and moved. Martin and Cockerell expected to see more elk, I saw what seemed plenty.
We exchanged bugles with many bulls and closed the gap to fewer than 20 yards on several of them. The nearer you get to a bull elk, the greater your appreciation for its size.
It wasn’t until the final morning, after evening and overnight showers cooled the air and darkened that filling moon, that the elk reappeared up top.
Just before sunrise, Martin spotted a fine bull idling toward a stand of cedars.
“Put the camera down for this one,” Martin said, “and get your rifle.”
Even at 200 yards, the bull’s mass filled the scope. It continued to walk straight away, increasing its pace after seeing us crest the ridge, I feared it might make the heavy brush before presenting a favorable shot angle.
Cockerell offered a cow call. And again. The bull turned broadside and paused, just long enough. A fine 5x5, tall, heavy, and incredible.
The settlers’ life
In one of the valleys on this ranch, overlooking a gentle turn in the river that sates the unending thirst of tall grasses, stand the remains of a late 19th-century homestead built by thick, calloused hands from blocks of red rock and planks of cedar gathered on site.
The family that lived here did so in two small rooms that backed into the hillside on the north, blocking winter’s coldest wind. The modest dwelling opened to the south, facing the river.
They had a corral and stone barn for their horses, perhaps a few cattle.
And on autumn mornings they awoke, and at night fell asleep, to the sounds of elk bugling throughout the canyon.
The Elk of Cotton Mesa
This past September I flew to Colorado Springs and then enjoyed the three and a half hour drive to Cotton Mesa for my first elk hunt.
I was greeted by Carter at the impressive log lodge which sits in a valley surrounded by soaring mesas. The great room displays spectacular trophies and the leather sofas provide the perfect resting spot before the vast fireplace. Several large bedrooms and private baths offer first class accommodations for a dozen hunters. The large kitchen, lounge, and dining area features a huge dining table where outstanding more-than-you-can-eat meals are served. The outside of the lodge is highlighted by several porches and balconies to enjoy the vistas and listening to the bugling of the bull elk – a sound that sends chills down the spine of every first time and old time elk hunter.
Arriving around 5 p.m., I spent my first evening prior to my hunt for a management bull doing a bit of touring before supper.
Not 10 minutes into our drive we spotted our first bull and he was a whopper. I have heard elk bugle before, but this was my first opportunity to watch elk bugle. Once observed it is a sight never to be forgotten. We saw elk that dreams are made of and that is exactly what I did my first night.
After breakfast and just after sunrise, we headed to the top of the highest mesa on the ranch. We spotted some elk that might fit my hunt level, but they also spotted us. We played hide and seek around the few cedars on the mesa for a good while. Finally in position to sneak a peek within shooting range Ric said, “Take him,” and I did.
My big thrill was jacked up a notch when, thanks to a couple of kickers, my first elk turned out to be a six by six. My joy was made even greater by the fact that Ric and Charlie truly shared my happiness.
The rest of my time at Cotton Mesa was spent driving and glassing. This rugged country hides not only trophy elk, but long abandoned rock homesteads and Indian sign. During my last evening we glassed nearly 50 bull elk and heard choruses of bugling in one valley alone. The melodious music is still playing in my ears.