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.