I have spent all of 2013, and a lot of time before then, thinking about hunting elk. And now that I’ve done it, I’ve come to realize that I’ll never be the same. Elk hunting has ruined me.
I often find myself thinking of moments from this year’s elk hunts in Colorado and Kentucky. Actually, it’s not quite accurate to say that I think of these moments; it more like I subconsciously relive these moments over and over again in my head. And it’s only after I’ve lost myself in the resurrection of these memories that I realize I’ve been reliving them at all.
It isn’t uncommon for me to fall asleep to the sound of bugles – just as I did on our Kentucky elk hunt, when several bulls sounded off around us for 5 hours throughout the night – but the bugles I hear now exist only in my head, or maybe in my soul.
Legendary bowhunter, Tom Miranda, describes it perfectly when he says,
“I’m not sure I ever got into bowhunting. I think what happened is that bowhunting got into me.”
I had no idea that bowhunting was going to change my life, but it has. And now that I’ve started bowhunting for elk, the passion has been driven even deeper inside of me.
A lot of readers that have followed my elk hunting journey throughout the whole of 2013 have asked if I’ll be going again any time soon.
There’s only one answer: Yes, I will be going in 2014, as well as every year that I can thereafter. Not going again is not an option.
There will come a time when I’m no longer fit to go, but I hope and pray that the day is decades away. It’s possible there may be a year when the money just isn’t there, but I’ll be working overtime to try and have the funds. There will probably be years when the time to leave my family for 10 days just won’t be there, but I will continue to train for the year after. There all are kinds of obstacles that could keep me away, but I plan on trying to kick, claw, and climb my way over every obstacle, with the goal of reaching elk country in September.
Another Life Ruined
Let me tell you about a story that I didn’t share when I wrote the day-by-day recap of this year’s elk hunt in Colorado…
We were standing around in the pouring rain, at the trailhead of the second spot we hunted. Out of nowhere come two guys come hiking up the road. We got to talking and found out that they had hiked the 2+ miles up the closed road to reach the trailhead.
I was somewhat puzzled by the fact that they had some hunting clothes on, but clearly weren’t going out to hunt. Each of them also wore empty pack backpacks.
They started telling us the story of their previous two days. They shot a bull, spent those two days packing it out, and were now headed back in (another 6 miles from the trailhead) to get their camp and other gear that they had left behind.
The gentleman on the left started to smile, “It was the only bull we heard all week, and I shot him.”
He continued, “This is my 7th year bowhunting for elk. I had heard that it was possible to kill an elk with a bow, but after a few years I began to wonder if it were possible for me.” Then, smiling even larger, he said, “But now I know I can do this.”
Seven years of climbing mountains. Seven years of spending the spring and summer training. Seven years of shooting a foam target. Seven years of anticipation. Six years of unfilled tags and unfulfilled dreams. But then it happened!
Words weren’t needed for this man to tell his story – you could read the look on his face, hear the excitement in his voice, and see the pride in his eyes. There was no regret, no shame, no “I wish that…”
Elk hunting had ruined his life, too. At least I know that I’m not alone.