New Normal Continued…

This has been a long time coming.  It has nothing to do with my recent diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa.

These knees of mine and I have been through a lot together.  In my youth, it was baseball (pitcher, catcher, first baseman and second baseman), football (defensive end, tight end), basketball (center…6’5″ used to be tall), track (440 and mile relay….that’s right…before metric) and field (discus and shot put) as well as many hiking trips into the wilderness on Boy Scout expeditions and up steep mountains on my own.

They’ve served me well and have the scars to show for it.  I’ve got an old-school scar from cartilage removal surgery (arthroscopy wasn’t invented yet) and another one from blocking home plate when a kid came in fast….with his sharp, metal cleats high.  No one ever got past me playing catcher.  No one.  I had everyone by a good 10″ in height and 30 pounds of weight.


Thanks to my parents, I had opportunities to participate in sports in grade school, junior high, high school and college.  I even spent some years serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserve and got through basic training at Ft. Jackson, SC, with these knees.  While stationed at Ft. Snelling, MN, I ran the fastest in my battalion on the two-mile course as the second oldest soldier.  I was 39 and finished the course in 13:06 which scored 100 on the old APFT.  (If you’ve served in the military, then you’re already wondering  how many push-ups and sit-ups Wilder managed to do in two minutes…aren’t you?  72 and 76, thank you very much.)

Since then, I’ve participated in Train to Hunt Challenges in four different states.  I’ve run a long “meat pack” course up and down mountains with 60 lbs on my back.  It was great fun.


As you can see, I was just a bit taller and bigger than the other men in my age division.  I always felt like Gulliver among the Lilliputians…and those Lilliputians were fast and strong!

I’ve always enjoyed running.  There’s just something about it.  It makes me smile…especially at the end.


Recently, my knees have been hurting when I run….and hurting even more after I finish.  Ice and ibuprofen did help, but my 61 year old digestive tract doesn’t need the NSAIDs.

So I’ve been hiking lately.  I don’t work up the same sweat from my head to my feet.  My dogs, Dixie and Ruby, wonder why I’m moving so slowly as they look back.  It’s different from running in countless ways.  Some of the differences are positive.

I never really looked up at mountains or around me when I was trail running.  My head was down making sure I wouldn’t trip on rocks, loose gravel or exposed roots.  Now I look high and low…and what I see is beautiful.

Better yet, my knees don’t hurt.  Back in my Army days one doctor told me that my left knee was “bone on bone” and that I must have a high pain threshold.  That threshold didn’t keep my knees from aching in recent years.  When hiking, I am pain free.

So I think this grandpa is now a hiker instead of a runner.  I admire the men my age who still run.  Christopher Cudworth and Jim Witcombe come to mind…true athletic beasts in my opinion.

Today I hiked just over 12 miles in just under 2.5 hours….about 12.5 minutes per mile.  It was downright enjoyable and I finally started sweating a little around mile six.  So this may be the new normal for me.  I’m thankful for all the running I’ve put in since my youth.  I’m grateful for my wife’s undying support in all my athletic endeavors.  I can still hear her voice among the crowd as I came down the home stretch of a Train to Hunt event, Move it, old man! MOVE…..IT!!!” 

Her words made me grin….and they did help me finish strong.


I look forward to another hike tomorrow.  If my running days are behind me, then I give thanks for all the miles and all the smiles.  I’m adjusting to many new normals these days.

Life is still good….very good.







New Normal


This photo was taken at one of my favorite places in the Sandia mountains behind our home. I would run up the trail with our dog, Max, and at this turn-around spot I’d give him some water before heading back down. Max’s ashes are there now…placed beneath a scrub oak where he would seek the shade from the hot New Mexico sun. Now I run up the same trail with Dixie and Ruby. The first time we took that route, both of them went straight to Max’s spot to enjoy the shade and cool sand. It was a powerful and precious moment. I wept.


Max left us two years ago at Easter. Kirsten and I are still adjusting to the “new normal” without him. For us, he was the perfect dog. We loved him…and still do. Dixie and Ruby are sweet dogs. They are fiercely loyal and keep me company on my trail runs. They sit at my feet when I’m in the Mancave writing at my laptop. We love them, but they’ll never replace the sacred space in our hearts and minds that Max fills to this day. They have a place that is uniquely their own.

dixie and ruby

Kirsten and I have adjusted to many “new normals” through our nearly forty years of life together. Becoming parents for the first time and then parents of twins, moving from place to place as I accepted new calls to different congregations, transitioning from a house full of lovely daughters to empty nesters, hitting our sixties in full stride after some challenging health issues in our fifties, mourning the death of our dear sister, Karen…these are some of the changes that have come our way.

Last month, yet another “new normal” appeared. I was diagnosed with “late onset” retinitis pigmentosa (RP). I’m legally blind and have been for many years according to my retinologist who looked at my medical records. I didn’t know I was “blind” when I went for those runs with our dogs. I didn’t feel blind hiking in the wilderness, competing in archery contests, driving my truck to remote trailheads or stalking deer and elk in the mountains. Truth be told, I don’t feel blind now. Just yesterday I went for a five mile run with no problems. Even so, my field of vision test indicates that I have only 20 degrees of vision. New Mexico requires no less than 120 degrees to have a driver’s license.

Kirsten dropped me off at the coffee house where I am now writing this blog. I used to come here fifteen years ago to get away from the interruptions at my office to write my sermons. That came to a halt when people found out they could find me here and stop by to ask “a quick question.” The questions were not quick…they never are. I now write my sermons at home where the interruptions are fewer.

Here I am again…legally blind. I needed to get out of the house and come here this morning. There is something strangely energizing in this joint. The sounds of conversations all around me…the servers taking orders and bringing food and drinks to each table…the music in the background ranging from pop songs I’ve never heard to the rock and roll tunes of my youth. The vibe is good. Better yet, I’ve not been interrupted once.

I’ll be writing more often now that my normal has changed…again. It’s good for the soul. I was motivated to start these reflections years ago by the wonderful writing of our daughter, Melinda, and a different affliction that rocked my world. It helped me through that difficult time. I’m hoping it will do the same now that I know I’ll be seeing less and less as the years go by and my retinas slowly degenerate.

Thanks for reading this. God bless you as you face the “new normals” of life that are uniquely your own. Don’t let any diagnosis define you. I may be “legally blind,” but I’m going to break that law by going for a run later today.

I’ll stop at Max’s grave and thank him again for all the love he poured into our lives.

Distraction or Discipline

I try to shoot my bow every day.  We are blessed with a backyard long enough that allows me to shoot out to 30 yards.  Since we are in Albuquerque, there is a large wall that surrounds our property like most homes…and I’m not talking about chain link or the picket fence variety.  Here in New Mexico, it’s all about cement block walls.


With these walls, I do not have to worry about an arrow missing the mark and traveling up the hill.  Truth be told, I have never missed my 3-D target…but it is good to have the walls there for safety’s sake.  I use a target called the “Full Rut.”


I prefer practicing with a target that actually looks like a real animal.  I’ve never seen an elk or deer in the wild with a circular bull’s-eye on its vitals.

I applied for several hunts in this year’s New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) draw.  In other words, you have to be drawn in a lottery system in order to get a license.  I applied for elk, deer, ibex, big horn sheep, aoudad, pronghorn, turkey, bear and oryx.  I was drawn for only three hunts…my third choice for each species: elk, deer and ibex.

The elk and ibex hunts will be with bow and arrow.  The deer hunt will be with a muzzleloader.

So I am thankful that three of my applications were drawn.  I know many people who were not drawn for a single hunt.  My friends who live in states with OTC (over the counter) tags may not realize how fortunate they are in having the opportunity to hunt each and every year.


There is another way to hunt in New Mexico…and this has to do with land owner tags.  Our state awards land owners with tags they can use for themselves or sell to the highest bidder.  You may have heard of a guy named Ted Turner.  He owns a ranch called Vermejo Park in this Land of Enchantment that covers nearly 600,000 acres.  For a mere entry-level fee of $12,000 you can buy a tag to hunt elk on his land.  Most of my friends don’t have pockets that deep…and even if they could afford the cost, they would be philosophically opposed to paying that kind of money to hunt big game that actually belong to the citizens of New Mexico…not Mr. Turner.  These are not livestock on a farm or ranch, these are big game animals that belong to the people of this state managed by public trust through the NMDGF.

If someone handed me a million dollars, there are lots of things I would do with that money…but buying a tag from Ted to hunt elk on his ranch would not be on the list.  I’d rather hunt on public lands DIY (Do It Yourself) and hike mile after mile in search of big game.  This not Europe where only land barons had the privilege of hunting…and could have peasants imprisoned for taking game animals on their land in order to feed their hungry families.  In fact, I’d rather come home empty-handed with an empty freezer for the winter than hand over $12,000 to Ted.  I just don’t think he needs the money…nor do I think hunting should be enjoyed only by a wealthy and privileged minority.

Some of my friends think that hunting…and the physical training and target shooting I do all year…are only a distraction.  They say this because they think of their own avocations such as golfing, bowling, tennis and playing cards as mere distractions. Hunting for me is not a distraction.  It is a way of living…a way of being.  Hunting is part of who I am.  The way I hunt requires discipline and hard work.  At my age, I must work my legs and lungs hard year round if I am to climb mountains and descend into canyons in search of my quarry.  If I succeed in getting a big game animal on the ground, then I must quickly quarter it out and haul the meat to camp on my back before it spoils.  This is no trip to the grocery store in my truck, that’s for sure.

So even though it is only May, I am already thinking about elk hunting in September, deer hunting in October and ibex hunting in November.  Someday I will be too old or too weak to hunt like this.  Until that day, I will train hard and discipline myself to be ready for the challenges of DIY big game hunting.

In preparation for this year’s hunts, I will be participating in the Train to Hunt Challenge up in Colorado this June.  Stay tuned…


One Year Later


I’ve been awake most of the night…remembering and thinking ahead.

It was at 4:16 a.m. on January 9, 2014, that I woke up with horrible pain in my legs and found myself unable to walk.  I’ve written about this in previous posts, so I don’t intend to revisit that moment and all that followed in the process of getting worse before I finally got better.  If you care to read about that experience, then go to:

So I will call this my “new year” celebration.  These days I am walking, hiking, running and weight training.  I do not need a wheelchair or a cane to get across a room.  At sunrise, I will head into the mountains as my way of giving thanks to God for the healing in my legs.  This new year finds me hopeful and forward looking.  In June, I will be heading to Colorado to compete in the “Train to Hunt” challenge in the Super Master’s Division.

train to hunt

The Super Master’s division is for men who are 50 years of age and older.  I’m already wondering if they will add another division for those who are 60 years old and beyond when I reach that age in 2017.  Perhaps they could call it the Senior Master’s division.  If you want to see what this is like, check out this video:

I am training hard for this event.  I am pushing myself like never before…and it is fun.

Having been immobilized one year ago today, I have no intention of slowing down or standing still.  I do not say this out of pride, but out of overwhelming gratitude.  It was only when I could not walk that I learned to take each step…each hike…with joy and thanksgiving.  One year ago I wondered if I would ever climb a mountain again or head out on a hunting trip.

Even though the odds of being drawn for big game hunting with my bow are stacked against me in New Mexico Department of Game and Fish annual quota system (, I am already excited about applying.  I will apply to hunt for elk, deer, ibex, oryx, pronghorn, bear and aoudad.  Even if I only succeed in being drawn for one of these hunts, then I will be thankful.  For if I am drawn, then I will be able to feel the sweat rolling down my back and the burn in my legs as I carry my pack through the mountains in pursuit my quarry…and it will be wonderful.


Several people have inspired me during this past year.  They keep me motivated to train hard and stay strong.  So I want to give a tip of my hat to the following people:

Zac Griffith:

Cameron Hanes:

Matthew Ament:

Kenton Clairmont:

Most of all, I thank the Lord for my wife, Kirsten. She supports me and cheers me on.  She never complains about my training for hunting or the time I spend away from her in the mountains.  In fact, she rejoices when I bring home venison for our family to enjoy.  So thanks, Kirsten.  Here’s to you!


A New Year?


Most of this was written for the members of my congregation in our January newsletter.  Several people suggested that I share it on my blog for a wider audience.  I have added a few additional thoughts.

I hope…and pray…this blesses you in some way:

What makes a year new? Once a new year has arrived, how long does it remain new before it becomes old?

So we are now in the year 2015. It is called a “New Year” even though 2014 was only one year old when we closed the books and moved on.

It is not my guess, but my experience, that for many of you this so-called “new year” already feels a lot like all the “old years” that have come and gone.  Based on what I’ve read in some of your Facebook posts and comments, the “new” year already feels tired, worn-out and just more of the same old, same old.

Thanks be to God, we do not depend on a new cycle of 365 days in order to be made new.  Praise the living Lord, we do not have to buy new calendars in order to have a fresh start.  Let us glorify the living God who makes all things new in Christ.

In Christ, you have already been made into a new creation. Through baptism into the death and resurrection of Jesus the Savior, the old you has been put on the cross and the new you has been raised up with Him.

Whatever shame, regret, mistake or sin from your past is weighing you down, the God who loves you wants you to know that in Christ you are fully forgiven, fully restored and fully loved.  You no longer need to live each day tied down to your past.  You can live each day in the freedom of God’s saving love.

This is the promise of God’s Word:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  II Corinthians 5:17-21

The Lord has called a new you into being. You have been washed clean through the blood of Christ. You have been raised up to new life with Jesus. You are now an ambassador for Christ!

So even when 2015 feels tired and worn out…if it doesn’t already…remember that the gift of newness has been freely bestowed on you by your Father in heaven.


Training for a Purpose

I remember the hot summer days of baseball practice when I was a boy.  Between the heat and humidity, I would always come home soaking wet.  My first experience of organized baseball took place when I was in third grade.  We were the Skipwith Twins in Richmond, Virginia.


Our coaches were very serious about practice.  One was a grandfather of a teammate; another was the father of a boy on our team; the third was a young college man preparing to be a physical education teacher. There was no time for goofing off or not paying attention.  We ran the bases…a lot.

A few years later I was still playing ball, this time at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, with my father as the head coach.  We practiced hard, played harder and won the Little League Championship that summer.  I was the catcher and often played second base.  In the championship game, my dad told me that I would be pitching since our starter was out with an injured shoulder.  I had never pitched a game before, but with Dad’s encouragement and my teammates’ support, I took to the mound.  All I could throw were fastballs.  At the end of the ninth inning, we walked away with the league championship.


I thought baseball practice was tough until I started playing organized basketball.  Some call them line drills, others call them suicides, killers or wind sprints. If you’ve played basketball, then you know what I’m talking about.  We did them in junior high, high school and college.  Two of my three coaches used them as a form of punishment.  If we did something the coach disliked, then it was on the line for killers.  I remember several teammates vomiting after the coach had us doing them for over 30 minutes.  One played actually passed out.

At Patton Junior High School in Kansas, we practiced hard and still had great fun.  I was already 6’3″ tall in 9th grade, so I played center. We won more games than we lost, but didn’t take home any championship trophies as I recall.


At Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Virginia, I played with some of the best athletes I ever knew.  Practices were intense and demanding.  Our coach hated to lose…and when we did, the next day’s practice would reflect his anger.  We were district champions one year.  Several teammates went on to play Division I basketball in college.


I played basketball at a small Lutheran college in Decorah, Iowa.  The Luther Norsemen were all guys who played for the love of the game as our college did not have athletic scholarships. I remember cold winter nights walking up the hill for supper after practice in the Field House…just in time before the cafeteria closed.


It’s been a long time since I played on any organized sports teams.  We did have flag football and pick-up games of basketball in seminary.  Some of my congregations had church league softball teams as well.  These days, I work-out for overall health and to stay in shape for the rigors of hunting elk and deer with my bow here in the mountains of New Mexico.  I hit the gym regularly for weight training and hike in the mountains behind my house at 5:30AM on most mornings.

Now I have a new goal.  I am going to compete in the 2015 Train to Hunt Challenge in Colorado this coming June. I have a serious conditioning program for the next five months so I can be ready.  It almost feels like I am a kid again preparing for baseball or basketball season.

That said, at 57 years of age I am anything but a kid. In fact, I will be in the “Super Masters” division for men over the age of 50.  That’s just a polite way for all the youngsters to refer to the old men.

I plan to train hard and give it my all. Perhaps I will bring home a medal for my age group…which is actually a painted cam of a compound bow.


Even if I come in dead last, it will be great training for fall hunting.  I don’t use an ATV or ride a horse like many big game hunters my age.  Call me stubborn. If I can’t get there using my legs, then I don’t want to go.


There won’t be any coaches yelling at me to run faster…and no teammates with whom to train.  Even so, I can still hear their  voices telling me to move quicker and jump higher.  They will be with me in spirit on the mountain as I push myself harder each day.  Maybe I’ll see you there.  If so, then feel free to shout out your encouragement…or tell me to get on the line for some killers.



As 2014 draws to a close, I look back with a grateful heart for the love and support I received from so many when I became terribly ill this past January.


As many of you know, virulent influenza coupled with Fifth Disease landed me in a wheelchair as my legs were paralyzed with stiffness and excruciating pain.  I thank God for His healing power, the loving support of my wife, Kirsten, and the wisdom of Dr. Pamela Costello who was able to help me on the road to recovery and strength.

The protocols Dr. Costello set into motion which once seemed severe and restrictive have become normative.  It has been nearly a year since I started my gluten-soy-sugar-dairy free regimen.  I have never felt better in my life.  This anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t feel like a diet in the least.  Instead, it makes me feel strong and energized.

So this will be the shortest post on my blog to date. 

Thank you, dear friends and family, for staying with me when the situation looked dark and several doctors were unable to determine the nature of my affliction.  You went with me through the valley of shadows…and by your love and God’s grace, I emerged in the light of His love.


I will never forget your kindness and compassion…never.

It is supposed to get down to 13F tonight, so it will be cold before the sun rises over my beloved Sandia Mountains.  Nonetheless, I will be hiking before the sun comes up…with a heart full of gratitude for every step I take.



I was not drawn for a deer hunt…again…this year here in New Mexico.


So I headed back to Minnesota where I can buy an OTC (over the counter) non-resident license to hunt white tail deer with my bow.  I have made this road trip several times.  I know the landscape from Albuquerque to Denver to Lincoln to Des Moines to Albert Lea to Southeastern Minnesota quite well.  It was good to be back in the Land of 10000 Lakes with my bow in hand.


Most of the corn was still in the fields during my three day hunt.  The moisture content was still around 23% and the farmers prefer to get that down to 15% so as not to incur added costs for drying.  Deer will stay in the corn as long as possible…something like a combination “hotel and buffet” where they will feast on the corn and bed down.  It makes archery hunting more than a little difficult.  When the deer come out of the corn fields, it is usually well after the sun sets.


In the woods where I placed my stand, I only saw a few does and young bucks just as the sun was going down…and much too far away to shoot with an arrow.  Thankfully, I was able to get permission to hunt on some nearby land managed by the owner for deer habitat.  He allowed me to try my luck for just one evening…and to shoot does only, no bucks.


About an hour before the sun went down, a group of seven does starting making their way toward my stand.  I waited for them to get within bow range and took aim at the largest one.  It was a clean shot…double lung, pass through.  It was good to field dress the deer and drag her back to my truck.  It brought back sweet memories of hunts from earlier years in Minnesota, where I was fortunate to put over twenty deer in the freezer for my family to enjoy through the winters.


The long drive back to New Mexico was pleasant as my cooler was full of venison on dry ice that I managed to find across the river in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.  So I had no worries about spoilage of all that fresh meat.


Thanksgiving is just one week away.  We will prepare a heritage turkey (look it up…thank me later) for the feast…along with some venison for everyone to enjoy.  Before you know it, we will be marking the season of Advent and celebrating the Incarnation of our Lord.  As winter comes upon us here in High Desert Country, I will thank God for the wonders of creation, the memories made on my most recent hunt, the gift of the Savior and the anticipation that comes with applying for 2015 hunts here in the Land of Enchantment.  Hope springs eternal, you know.  This could be the year I finally draw for a tag to hunt oryx…and deer in the mountains behind my house!


If not, then my truck knows the way back to the North Star State….


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.