The first time I walked for miles and miles through the mountains in silence was the first time I knew God outside of religion. I looked around at every plant and tree. I observed every little and big critter that I came across. I couldn’t believe that the God who created the forest I was walking in also created me. It was absolutely profound.
On my first turkey hunt, a herd of hundreds of elk ran right by us, only a few yards away, and they didn’t even know we were there. I couldn’t believe it.
Hunting has always been there. It has always been our lifestyle. Every fall, the men would go hunting and come back with a deer or elk. In the spring, my dad and brother would be up till all hours of the night plucking feathers from a wild turkey. When I became the hunter, I was eager to learn from the men.
I was eighteen when I first harvested. I had been sitting in the snow for a very long time and I was miserable. My family of hunters didn’t and still don’t believe in all that fancy hunting apparel (Walmart camo for the win). We’d just wear layers upon layers of thermals and socks, and they had me in pants and jackets my great grandpa probably owned. But that evening, I had already been walking through the snow and my worn out boots were done for. I was about to call it, and I looked up and saw a cloud moving swiftly across the sky. I decided that I’d wait for the cloud to reach the tallest tree in my line of sight, then I’d call it. Right before the cloud reached the tree, I looked at the edge of the meadow and a herd of cow elk came prancing out. I tried so hard to control the shakes and my breathing. I aimed and squeezed the trigger.
The night I made chile con carne with my harvest changed everything for me. The lifestyle I was apart of now became apart of me. There is something about going up to the mountain and putting in the work for your harvest. I know we hear it all the time from social media famous hunters, but it’s so true. I was so grateful to God for the opportunity to harvest food.
That was six years ago, and I haven’t harvested since. I’ve only been on a few hunts since then, including an archery hunt, but then again, I haven’t had much luck in my state’s draw. Last fall, I helped my brother harvest his first ever elk, and first harvest in ten years. It’s sad and a bit disheartening not being able to hunt every year, but it makes it all the more special when we get the chance.
Hunting is something I’m very passionate about and don’t take for granted. It is the most natural way to put meat on the table. It has formed bonds in my family that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for those long and strenuous hours of field dressing an adult cow elk.
I always encourage friends and family to try hunting at least once. Hunting is something you have to experience for yourself to fully understand. For me the best part about hunting isn’t even the hunt itself, but those moments when you’re sitting on the cold hard earth observing a squirrel run up and down the trunk of a tree, or watching the sun rise and set from the top of the mountain, or talking to God through whispers of the heart because that’s the only way you can communicate with Him while you’re literally sitting on top of His creation.