Each year thousands of hunters complete and submit their applications hoping to be drawn by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish in the annual lottery. This annual drawing only permits so many applicants to take to the mountains in pursuit of big game. Some hunters get lucky and are drawn for several different hunts each year…many years in a row. Other hunters are not so lucky. They are drawn for nothing and must wait patiently…sometimes for several years…until their application is pulled in the lottery.
This year I applied to hunt elk, deer, bear, oryx and ibex. I was drawn for ibex only. This is an archery hunt in the unforgiving Florida Mountains of southern New Mexico near Deming. A friend told me, “The Floridas remind me of the asteroid in the movie, ‘Armageddon’ with Bruce Willis…only the asteroid didn’t have rattlesnakes crawling all over it.” Many serious archers consider this to be the most challenging bow hunt in the lower 48. I take their word on it.
So I have entered a serious training regimen in preparation for this hunt which will take place October 1-14. I can’t be away from work for the entire two weeks, of course, so I will have to select my days carefully. Many hunters, especially those who do not prepare themselves mentally and physically, pack it up and head home after just one or two days. I am following a training program by Zac Griffith, a young bow hunter I have come to like and respect. It involves weight training five days a week and cardio workouts just as often: http://www.zacgriffith.com/train/
I am motivated for this hunt not only because I know how challenging it will be, but because of the journey I have traveled for the past six months. In January, a perfect storm of illnesses attacked me at once…severe influenza and Fifth Disease. My temperature stayed at or above 102.5 F for three weeks and I was unable to walk as my knees and ankles became swollen with off the chart pain. It got so bad I had to use a wheelchair. After seeing many specialists who each made their best “educated guess” as to what was going on with me, I finally met Dr. Pamela Costello…a renown neurosurgeon who also specializes in anti-inflammatory regimens and detoxification. Both were needed as my immune system was hit hard by the Fifth Disease virus when I was already sick with flu. Before I met Dr. Costello, there were some dark days where I wondered if I would ever walk again…let alone strap on a back pack and head to the mountains. My wife, Kirsten, loved me, prayed for me and gave me all the encouragement I needed. “For better or for worse” we said to each other 34 years ago. This was not for better, that’s for sure.
That was then. I now feel better than ever before…stronger too. Between Dr. Costello’s regimen and Zac’s training program, I have lost 36 pounds and am pain free: Psalm 150
As the summer progresses, I will let you know how the training goes. Did I mention practicing with my bow? More on that later. Those who have hunted ibex tell me I need to be proficient out to 80 yards. This ain’t hunting deer from a tree-stand in Minnesota!