I have been waiting to hunt with my dad and his friends for years. Finally, when I turned 12, I was able to go and the trip lived up to my expectations. On the first weekend, it was a lesson in patience. We spotted some cow elk and I raised my rifle, but didn’t pull the trigger because I didn’t have a good shot on the vitals. The cow was moving from right to left at about 100 yards, but it was too fast, and I didn’t feel comfortable taking the shot.
The second weekend started off in camp with my dad and his friend Robert as we created our hunting plan for the next day. I started asking them to tell me stories about their first harvest and I loved hearing more stories about their best memories in hunting camp, funniest stories, scariest moments and dumbest things they have done. At that point, I knew even if we weren’t successful the next morning that we’d had a great time and I’d learned a lot about hunting.
Saturday morning started out as planned, there were just no animals in sight. We worked the hillside glassing and waiting for the animals to appear. We walked and put everything into a good hunt.
After lunch and a good nap, we began the evening hunt. We spotted a herd about 800 yards away in a field. The problem was the approach and not knowing if they were on public or private land. With our trusted GPS, we were able to identify that they were on both private and some on public land, so we began our stalk and knew what to do.
The first 300 yards or so, we were able to walk out-of-sight to close the distance. But after that, it was time for the bear crawl. On the range finder, we were about 600 yards away. We then began our slow crawl dodging rock and cacti – but not always successful. We got within 450 yards, then 350. Then at 300 yards, we started to raise the rifle. Although I felt like I was comfortable enough to shoot, we made the decision to get closer.
We started to run out of daylight and needed to make a choice soon. I decided that we should pick up the pace and try to walk closer – as low and fast as possible. At this point, the elk became aware of us. They started bunching up, but not running yet.
We got to 250 yards on the range finder and my dad set up a good spot for me with the shooting sticks. But now, there was a new challenge. Because they had bunched up, I didn’t feel comfortable taking a shot because there wasn’t a clean shot to just one cow without the risk of collateral damage. So we waited a little longer.
The elk started to feel comfortable again and spread out a little more. My dad kept glassing and I was looking through the scope and we talked quietly about which one was a spike and which was a cow. My dad asked me again if I felt comfortable shooting at 250 yards. He told me it was my call and to shoot if I was comfortable. I pulled the trigger, and the herd started running in every direction.
“I missed , I missed,” is all I could say.
Not a few seconds later, one elk stopped and just fell over. We were shocked and so excited! We waited 10 minutes to calm our nerves and make sure it was a clean kill. Yep… it was. At 250 yards, I got a perfect heart shot and created a perfect memory with my dad.