Even though I’ve been hunting with my dad since I was 3 years old, this was my first time hunting elk with my own tag. I was with him when he shot his first mule deer with a bow in 105-degree heat, so I knew hunting was not easy.
Before my elk hunt, my dad taught me how to shoot the same pump action Remington rifle that he shot his first elk with when he was 10 years old. He’s shot a lot of elk, deer and antelope with that gun since then, so I had no excuse except to be ready to shoot when the time came.
We drove a couple of hours from our house last October for opening morning of the elk hunt. We were up and ready and followed a herd of cow elk. My dad got me all set up and then, just like we had hoped, a cow stopped right in front of me at about 80 yards.
I was looking through the scope and then just froze. I got so nervous; I didn’t even touch the trigger. She was right there for me and I didn’t do anything – eventually I missed my chance. For the next several hours, I kept thinking about it. I didn’t shoot – what was wrong with me?
About three or four hours later, we walked up a hill and my dad helped me get set up again. We got my sites where they needed to be and the cow elk started coming again – only this time, the one that stopped was even bigger than the one I’d seen in the morning.
This time, I took a deep breath and I shot. Afterwards, I was in shock again but this time because I actually did it. I was so emotional – I started crying I was just so happy. We took some pictures, but then the hard part came. It started getting dark and we had a lot of work to do. We had to gut the elk and do everything you need to do to get it home. It was so dark, but our phone flashlights helped out a lot.
My friends and family thought it was pretty cool that I’ve got my first elk already. We process all the meat at home and cut and wrap it so it was a lot of work even after we got home. We couldn’t believe that we got more than 300 pounds of meat off that big cow.
I’m very interested in hunting elk again. I just love that I can be myself in the outdoors. I love being in nature and seeing all the animals. I can’t believe how shocked I was to see elk so close. I’ll never forget how that cow stopped right in front of me and was so amazing. Hopefully that doesn’t happen again next time because I might not have a second chance.