The day finally came and I began it right at midnight. My area is roughly 2.5 hours away from my house and the usual anxious me was worried about finding an area with no other hunters. I figured it was possible that it could be packed with other anxious hunters that were counting down until the time we could start hunting.
I picked up my friend, Brad, on the way out. Brad was a year below me in law school and we were both in the patent law world so naturally our paths crossed in law school. At one point in our friendship he told me that he was interested in hunting and that he would be glad to tag along. I needed someone to help me haul on the miraculous chance I saw and got something (spoiler alert: neither of those happened) since Alex would be at his bachelor party and took Brad up on his offer to tag along.
So away we went into the dark, dark mountains. I have maybe 0.5% experience now, but Brad has 0% so we talked hunting, how to get started, and then of course, practicing as new attorneys, law school, and the real world.
We eventually made it to my spot at 3am and no one was there. Whew, either I was here first or no one wanted to hunt this spot for a reason. Regardless, we had a couple of hours to kill since I factored in “drive around and look for another spot” into the equation. Brad and I were both amazed at how dark it was and I mused, “It feels like we’re in a planetarium.”
Brad fell asleep for the next 1.5 hours as I tried to rest too. I, of course, didn’t sleep and being the antsy person I am and horribly impatient to do things, we started getting ready at 4:45am. Once I was packed and had brought my bow out I drew it a couple of times and let down for warm up. Finally, we embarked into the darkness of the trees.
I was a little familiar with where we were so I felt no hesitation hiking in the dark, following the map on my phone. I wasn’t going to go far because I was worried about accidentally getting too far and spoilage, so we crested a baby plateau, walked about a half mile, and hunkered down for daylight. The stars twinkled through the treetops and the air was silent and crisp. Slowly, but surely, the stars began to fade and the sky towards the east began to glow warm. Little critters began moving around and chirping. A mouse scampered through the brush, birds began singing and we were sitting silently, taking it all in.
I watched my phone as it inched closer to shooting time. About a minute before, I took an arrow out nocked it, and motioned my friend it was time. He was going to hang back a little while I snuck ahead.
My first hunt was pretty uneventful, we saw a lot of old signs of elk and I tried calling around, but I think there was no elk in the area and I was still hesitant to go too far. We checked a few small openings, tried hunting down a slope, but I quickly thought, ‘I do not want to pack out on this steep slope.’ After three hours we called it and headed back to the car as I had to get back home to go back to sleep for another midnight wake-up call (but not for hunting). In those short three hours I observed and learned a lot. Walking around looking at the different terrain and looking for shooting lanes made me realize there are a lot of spots that I would not feel comfortable at the moment taking the shot. I realized (again) that it’s more than just finding an elk and shooting it, I had a duty to get that meat out without spoilage and to do so I had to observe where I was, how I got there, and if I were to take an animal down, where it was going to end up.
Next weekend Alex and I are embarking on my next and possible last hunt of the season for the long weekend. Had I known I would be this passionate about hunting I would have pushed Alex and I’s wedding/elopement in Iceland two weeks back, but ah, such is life, and there will be many many more years to hunt 🙂