What Really Matters…


I had hoped to share a post with you about the huge bull elk I arrowed last week in Game Management Unit 9 here in New Mexico. I was going to add a nice photo of the 6X6 bull that came close enough for a clean kill due to my proficient skills as a hunter.

I did not succeed in killing an elk this year. Yes, I had plenty of mule deer walk within a few yards of me. I also managed to get a few bulls to respond to my bull and cow calls…but in order to arrow an elk it must come closer than 80 yards…and that is the closest any bull would come to me this season. I had dreams of elk closing the distance and standing broadside or quartering away from me at 30 yards or less…but my dreams did not become reality.


Water holes that used to be full were bone dry. Areas that were once productive were barren. After hiking miles and miles up and down mountains…and deep into draws…I would then hear the bulls bugling from 300AM to 500AM off in the distance as I was wide away in my tent. Yet when I left camp before first light, I could not get close enough to put an elk down.

So I thought this post would be different…and it is…not because of my hunt, but because of what happened to me the day after I came home.


I went to Trader Joe’s to buy a gift card for my son-in-law, Brian. He spent a day and a half with me up in the mountains doing his best to help me call in an elk. We heard plenty of bulls sounding off, but it never resulted in that special moment when a one comes close enough to be arrowed.


As I got out of my truck and walked toward the store, I was suddenly hit from behind and slammed onto the pavement. I had no idea what hit me. As I rolled over, I could see the front end of a car just inches away. An elderly driver struck me while I was in the pedestrian zone near the main doors. She was aiming for the handicapped parking spot right by the main entrance, but missed it by a good six feet.


Witnesses said her tire went up my right calf as they saw me knocked forward and down in front of her vehicle. People told me they expected to see me with a fractured leg and facial injuries due to how fast and hard I went down. The EMTs who were called told me that I was in shock on the pavement for about 30 minutes or so.

I am giving thanks to God this morning that Kirsten is not having to visit me in the hospital…that the succession plan for a new senior pastor at Faith due to my death or disability is not needed at this time…and for angels that may have caught me as I was going down.

So this post is not what I anticipated writing about as I packed up my gear and headed down the mountain. Am I disappointed that I did not get an elk this year? Absolutely. Have I already started thinking about where I might apply to hunt next year? You know it.

That said, what happened yesterday at Trader Joe’s reminds me that I am fortunate to be alive. My family will not starve this winter without elk meat in the freezer. Those who hunt in the United States these days do not have to arrow a big game animal in order to survive.

As the good folks back in Minnesota like to say, “It could have been worse.” Indeed. There are worse things than not getting a deer or an elk. I am not dead. I am not in the ICU with compound fractures or brain damage.

So as I climbed the mountains behind my house this morning at sunrise…I gave thanks and praise to God. I am alive. I am forgiven. I have been marked with the cross of Christ and sealed by the Spirit in Holy Baptism. I have a wife who loves me and a family that blesses us in ways too numerous to count.

I will be hunting again in a matter of weeks…ibex here in New Mexico and white tail deer in Minnesota. I hope I get close enough to arrow these animals with my bow. I am going to give it my best effort…and then some. If I succeed, rest assured I will tell you about it. If I do not, rest equally assured that I am glad to be alive…and thankful to dream of hunts in future years.


Have a great week…tell your family and friends how much you love them…and look out for senior citizens in the parking lot when you are out and about!

T-Minus Seven Days….


Only one week until I will be setting up base camp at Mt. Taylor.  My hunt for elk begins on Tuesday morning, September 16.  The hunt ends on September 22 at sunset.  God willing, between those two days I will have been successful in calling a bull elk close enough for a lethal shot with my bow and arrow.  Winter is coming and I want a freezer full of elk venison for my family…and to share with friends.

As many of you know (see my previous post, “I Cannot Walk”) this past winter was a difficult time for me.  I wasn’t able to walk from my bed to the bathroom, let alone climb a mountain in pursuit of wapiti.  Since meeting Dr. Pamela Costello and starting a strict anti-inflammatory diet, I have regained the full use of my legs and worked harder than ever before at personal training and conditioning.  After all my years of hunting in Minnesota and New Mexico, I am in better shape than ever before…and it was accomplished in a matter of five short months once I was able to hike without stiffness or pain in my knees and ankles. 

Now it is down to the last seven days before I head to the wilderness in the hope of getting a bull elk within range.  For me, that means no farther than 50 yards, though I am accurate with my bow out to 80 yards.  It is one thing to hit a stationary target at an outdoor range at that distance…it is another thing entirely to hit an elk that can move the moment it hears the string on your bow being released.  So I keep my shots closer…the closer the better.


We’ve been blessed with abundant rainfall this summer here in New Mexico.  This comes after six straight dry years of drought like conditions.  This is good news for the flora and fauna in the Land of Enchantment.  The elk, deer, pronghorn antelope, bear, cougar, ibex and oryx populations in our state, like all living creatures, need water in order to survive.  This abundance of moisture will also make my hunt more challenging.  In years past, finding a water hole during the dry conditions of the hunting season was gold.  Sooner or later the elk would have to take a drink.  With all the rain we’ve had, finding elk will be much more difficult than simply finding a source of water. This year’s hunt will require more aggressive tactics….lots of glassing, lots of calling and lots of hiking.  I can hardly wait.


I’m up for the challenge.  This year it will not be a lack of preparation or physical stamina that prevent me from getting my elk.  I am as ready as ready can be.  My personal cardio trainer, Max, has kept me going long and hard in the mountains for early morning hikes.  Since the beginning of April, we have logged 832 miles together. Since Max likes to go off trail chasing rabbits and deer, he has probably gone at least twice that far.


My hope is that other hunters will take to the mountains with a strong sense of personal ethics…which means obeying the law at the very least.  More than a few times hunters on ATVs have ruined stalk for me…driving around in the wilderness where such vehicles are not allowed.


So let me say “thanks” to each and every one of you who have prayed for me during this time of healing and recuperation.  Your encouragement is a source of such strength for me. I also want to thank my wife, Kirsten, for nursing me back to health.  She took care of me when I could not take care of myself.  My heart for her is filled with love and gratitude.