“Never again”. These were the words running through my head after 17 hours of hiking – and we still had a minimum of 2 hours to the truck. I guess you could say I am a very slow learner since I can remember at least once a year for the past six years saying that very same phrase.
The morning of September 26th began like any other day during hunting season. My father, good friend Jerry, and myself, with Flashlights in hand, ascending up the mountain calling periodically. This was Jerry’s first archery season and we wanted to get him in on a bull. At 7:00 A.M. we heard our first response. It sounded like a young bull and I was hesitant to give chase due to the fact that he was across a draw and not in the direction we wanted to go. After a small discussion, Dad and Jerry talked me into chasing the bull. After about an hour and a half the young five point finally winded us and snuck away. We turned and headed back up the mountain, again calling periodically. At 12:30, we finally got another response in a basin below us. We had climbed close to 3500 feet in elevation and were approximately 8 miles from the truck.
We closed the distance on the bull and Jerry and myself setup while Dad stayed back and called. The bull came screaming in and gave Jerry a 20 yard broadside shot. Jerry capitalized on the opportunity and the bull went only 4 yards before bedding down. One more shot put the bull down for good. We were all excited and Jerry was going crazy. Now the work was to begin. We left the kill sight at 3:00 and headed straight down the mountain. As darkness fell I knew we were in for a long night. At 9:30 we still had a minimum of 2 hours to the truck and to say we were exhausted was an understatement. We decided to drop the packs, get to the truck, and return the next day to retrieve our packs. We were too exhausted to eat that night and hit the sack as soon as we got to camp. I think we were out within a minute of zipping up the tent. Needless to say, we slept in the next morning before retrieving our packs and the boned out elk.
This was one of the toughest days I have ever had hunting and I was by far the youngest guy there. As my father and Jerry would say “You have got to love it” and “It’s all about the memories”. Persistence does pay off. Even if we wouldn’t have gotten an elk I would have still called it a successful hunt. Good times with good friends, how else can you measure success?