Bow hunting is such a bittersweet sport, involving getting whacked in the face by ten million branches, for that one chance to make a perfect ethical shot.
This past weekend in the Garnet Mountains, I just about sealed the deal on a huge six point bull elk.
I must first point out I spotted the giant bull coming down the mountainside to water through a burned area filled with vibrant red huckleberry bushes. I still have the image of this ghost white elk that looked like a vanilla barn door moving through the burning huckleberry bushes towards me.
Keeping my composure, I slowly knocked an arrow and pulled my hat brim down. Peering out from under my hat, I could see the bull was in range. I waited for him to duck behind a few burned lodge poles and I drew my bow. I had a head on shot at about 25 yards, but that ethical side of me wouldn’t let my finger release the arrow at his chest.
As he finally got to a small group of jack pines about 15 yards away, I only needed one more step out of him and I would have a perfect broadside heart shot. Still completely calm and totally focused on the shot I was about to make, I heard a big crash and ruckus behind me.
Hoping I wasn’t about to be breakfast for a grizzly bear, my bull wheeled and ran up the hill out of range. As I turned around with fear (and extreme anger) waiting to see a giant grizzly bear I was mad enough to fist fight; there stood a stupid fork horn mule deer. It was bedded in the creek bottom and had winded me. As I looked back up the hill at the set of giant horns that bull was carrying, I removed my blunt arrow to teach Mr. Fork horn a lesson. I ranged him at 32 yards and gave him a nice welt straight to the rib cage. You can bet that little feller is probably in the Bob Marshall still on the run as I write this.
The point I am trying to make here is that even though I was mad as hell at what happened, it was still an amazing experience with Mother Nature. Even though my arrow didn’t harvest the bull, I harvested a lifelong memory of an incredible experience that I will never forget. Rather it’s hunting or fishing, if we all sit back and think about it, it is the adventure we all long for…not the harvest.
Catching a big walleye or harvesting a bull elk is just a bonus to the adventures we pursue in the woods and on the water. If you knew you were going to catch a ten pound walleye or shoot a big bull every time you go out, the adventure would be gone…so enjoy the adventure and where it takes you.
As always, cheers to “Jiggin’ the Dream” and what the hell…cheers to “Bugling the dream” while I am at it.
Good luck on the water and in the woods and be safe while chasing your adventure.