When I look back at this year’s big game season all I can think is Wow! What a ride! The highs and lows of this wonderful sport of hunting are greater than anything I’ve ever experienced in any other aspect of my life. I imagine the intensity is fueled mostly by my unwavering passion, but nevertheless it’s incredible. I’m on the hunt every chance I get and yet it never gets old. I hate to be a cliche, but what a blessing.
So, as I look back at this year I can honestly say there is only one disappointment. I will get to that later, but first I want to share the journey from beginning to end starting with my firsts….
- June – I hunted black bear for the first time and was fortunate enough to harvest a beautiful animal – Talk about a rollercoaster of a ride. My husband and I spent almost a month pursuing these elusive creatures before we finally got one to hit our bait barrel. I posted the story of that adventure in a previous blog post. It’s worth the read.
- September 10th – I hunted and harvested an animal by myself for the first time. This moment, for me, has meant the most because I learned something about myself. I REALLY love hunting alone! My husband and I set up groundblinds on two separate water holes several miles apart. Opening morning I went one direction and he went the other. Three hours into season I harvested my biggest antelope buck to date. What a feeling of accomplishment. It was an incredibly liberating and proud moment for me. Since then, every chance I get I head out by myself whether it’s to scout or hunt. It has brought a whole new level of enjoyment to the sport I love so dearly.
- Later in the month of September I hunted Rocky Mountain Elk with my bow. I learned much from this hunt. First of all, I learned that elk hate sheep. So much so, that if rancher moves sheep into the canyon you’ve been scouting, you might as well walk away and find a new spot. We
scouted a canyon for months, knowing that come season they would be in that canyon for the rut. We’d learned this while hunting that area the year before. This summer we spent weeks looking for a waterhole we were told existed in that canyon. We found it. When the rut began it became a wallow. We had a ground blind set up on it with trail cameras. The whole nine yards. But, before we could ever use it. A rancher moved 500 head of sheep up the canyon and the elk disappeared. It was heartbreaking to say the least. Disappointed, but
refusing to give up my husband and I continued our pursuit. And, this is when the fun began.
- I called in a cow at 500 yards with my new Phelps Game Call. I spent months learning various cow calls using Youtube tutorials and let me just tell you this call worked like a charm.
- The last few days of the hunt, after climbing mountains for several days, I got to full draw on a big six point bull. He was quartering away hard at 40 yards and I couldn’t get a clean shot. Then his five cows ran in and stood all around him. What a rush! This is one of my biggest wins of the season and also my biggest disappointment. Harvesting my first bull elk has been a dream of mine for some time. However, I learned so much and know that when that moment comes down the road, I will have earned it.
- In early November I celebrated another first when I went back after a cow elk with a muzzleloader. I’ve never hunted with one of these
before. They are super fun! May have to invest in one in the future. I only had time to hunt one day, but it was a great day. We spotted a herd early in the morning and went in after them. The wind shifted and they blew out of there and up the next canyon. It was a fun day on the hunt with my dad. Moments like that, to me, are priceless.
- And, my final lesson came during my mule deer rifle hunt. Always trust your own instincts. I took a roughly 450 or 500 yard shot at a big buck. My farthest shot at an animal to date. I knew it looked like a long shot, but Ty thought it looked about half that distance. We debated on it for a bit and then I decided he probably new better. I should’ve trusted myself. I shot right under it. I don’t for a moment regret what happened because again, I learned a valuable lesson. Not to mention, later that day I harvested a big bodied forky. Meat in the freezer is what it’s all about.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a successful year of big game hunting. It still stings a bit when I see my leftover elk tag. I worked hard and put in hours of climbing mountains and preparations in the hopes of hard work paying off. Well, it didn’t just yet, but I have no doubt that someday it will. Maybe even as soon as 2016.