2010 and 2011 were rough years. My chronic back trouble flared up with a vengeance in the fall of 2010 and left me with permanent nerve damage and only 30% use of my left leg. From April to August, 2011, the pain and depression were crippling. I was either at work on pain medication, or lying on my floor at home. I knew that going to the mountains and bow hunting would help me defeat depression, but honestly, it was the last thing I felt like doing. A visit with the doctor in August, and assurance from him that I wouldn’t cause any further permanent damage by hiking and hunting, gave me the nudge I needed to get out of the house. My wife and I went to the mountains for a few days, scouting for my buddy Jason. Jason had a great elk tag, but was out of town and unable to scout. It felt great to be out in the mountains glassing for elk. It’s amazing what an uplifting effect it had on my depression. Jason had only a couple of hours of sleep before I picked him up on opening morning. A very physical day of hunting culminated with Jason shooting a 350 class bull a half hour before dark. I kept up with him all day and caught all the action on video. That day proved to me that I could still do what I loved the most in life; bow hunt for elk, even with extreme pain and a leg that wouldn’t work right! Later in September, I was also successful on a public land bull in Wyoming. My hunting plans for 2012 will deviate from the past few years. I have decided to slow down a little bit and not schedule every single day of my vacation. I plan to allow myself time to enjoy each hunt completely, without the worry of rushing off to the next one. I will also plan on elk hunting more instead of other species that don’t give me as much enjoyment. I still plan to play the application game across all the western states, but try to plan so I don’t end up with multiple tags. My family is also a big factor in my plans for 2012. I’d like to do more hunts where my wife can come along. Even though it’s not elk hunting, I’d also like to go to Alaska where my son lives, and hunt Sitka Blacktails with him. My elk hunting plans include burning my elk points in Oregon and hunt elk there. Hopefully my brother will make the trip with me. I plan to also bow hunt elk in Colorado for the first time with some good friends.
Get in the best possible physical shape my back and legs will let me achieve.
Arrow public land bull elk in at least 2 states, preferably three.
Try to go on a Coues deer hunt to complete my deer slam.
Spend quality time with family and friends.
Take more time to photo document each hunt.
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For all of you working on your 2012 plans, I encourage you to set personal goals for yourself, whether it is taking your first elk or whether you want to shoot a 330+ bull. Define success by your own terms and no-one else’s. Best of luck and remember to always carry a camera and use it a lot!