Hunting season this year was, as always, beyond words. To tell any stories from this trip wouldn't even begin to do it justice. .
The mountains are an endless place of finding balance, being challenged, facing your fears, using your mental and physical strength and in the silence of the forest only hearing your breath and light steps. From the sun cresting up over the tops of rolling hills to the end of the day when light is little and exhaustion sets in. The colorful sky as the sun drifts to sleep is one of the most satisfying views. This was a trip we both really needed. .
One story I will tell, is how for the first time ever, I had a cow elk in my crosshairs. I never knew how I would truly feel with an animal in my sights and finger on the trigger. .
It was opening day and we decided to check out a spot we got an elk at last year. My cousin was leading and as I learned from last year that I need my head more on a swivel. I spotted TWO cow elk down a steep hill. The window was small. I had a rush of excitement as I tried to get my cousins attention. By the time my cousin had walked back over, one cow had moved out of sight. The second one stopped and eventually saw us and stared up at me. I was almost frozen in time. My cousin says "It's all yours" and I quickly came to. I slowly knelt down, drew my rifle, went through the motions of aiming at its vitals, thinking about wind, angle etc. all in a matter of milliseconds. I took the cold air in to my lungs and slowly release my breath, finger on trigger, ready to squeeze and then the window got too small. The cow moved forward and I didn't have a good ethical shot... I blew it. That was the calmest I'd ever been. It was a rush of excitement followed by a rush of disappointment and to go through every thing I did wrong and what I did right. It's hard to let go of something like that. But it is what comes with the territory. It's a learning process and even though we got skunked this year I had a lot of lessons and things to improve for next year.
In closing, I think John Muir said it best. "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it is hitched to everything else in the universe. "