Hunting is a pastime loved by the pros and the novices alike! Here’s the story of when I finally got my chance to put some meat in the freezer.
Let’s start at the very beginning of the story: March 3, 2017 – the 20th annual RMEF Mile High Chapter banquet. The youth raffle for that year featured a Ruger American (donated by Sportsman’s Warehouse) and a compound bow (donated by No Limits Archery). I was the lucky man who won first pick! I walked up to the stage and claimed my rifle.
Later that night, I remember myself sitting at the dinner table, watching the live auction unfold. Suddenly, I saw three words that caught my eye: “Youth Elk Hunt.” I hoped beyond hope that one of my parents would bid on this hunt. The tension increased hundred-fold as I watch fathers and mothers bid higher and higher on this hunt.
“Going once, going twice, sold for that man over there!”
I looked over and I saw that my dad won the hunt at Bored Gulch Ranch, organized by this awesome man named Brian Soliday! I then proceeded to give him a big fat bear hug.
Months went by, and I practiced and practiced. I dry fired at the house, went to the range almost every other weekend, and I worked on my accuracy from 50 yards, then 100 yards, then 200, then finally 300. Every day, I dry-fired on inanimate objects in the back yard, practicing my aim. I was waiting to get the call that said we could come to the ranch to hunt. Then, sooner than I expected, we got the call!
After a long 4-hour drive, we finally got to the hotel in Craig, Colorado. I was prepared for the next day and whatever it might bring. We settled into our room and tried to sleep right away. The next morning, I met Brian and had breakfast with him and my dad. Then, we went to the ranch and began our hunt.
About halfway into the afternoon, we saw this huge herd of elk right across the road, but it just so happened that a truck was blocking their path. Long story short, I didn’t get a shot that day. Apparently, the conditions this year were … a bit strange. Thinking that we needed to wait until next week, we left. That next morning, the other two kids I was hunting with tagged out! Needless to say, regret filled our hearts.
A few weeks later, we went to the ranch again. The first day, we were on our own – no guide to help us through this wilderness. We saw a small herd of elk heading to the left of us, so we tried to intercept. Apparently, we scared them off toward some other hunters in the area who got a shot at one of the cows. What luck, right? That evening, we headed to our hotel, slept, and looked forward to the last day of our hunt.
The next morning, we hunted with two other father/son teams. By afternoon, we saw a large herd of elk coming our way. Five minutes passed by. Ten minutes. Fifteen. Twenty. Finally, they came across to the ranch property and we flanked them … or at least tried to. Instead, we managed to scare them off into a little valley surrounded by road. We split up around the valley.
Brian, my dad and I hiked in with hopes to take home some elk meat! And … that’s exactly what I did. After my shot, it was time to retrieve the cow. At first, we didn’t see any blood. Ten minutes go by, and we spot some, but not enough. We looked around for what might be a blood trail. We followed it until it led us right to my downed cow.
I hope that any youths reading this can know that hunting is truly a blast! Not only is hunting rewarding when you harvest an animal, but the experiences along the way are awesome!
By Zach White, 12 – Arvada, Colorado