(by Chris Harper)As my last tire caught the edge of pavement and unit 7 West became a distant memory, I was strangely comfortable with the fact that I was not successful in downing a giant Arizona elk... or any elk for that matter. I had assumed until that moment that I would be bashing my head against the steering wheel the entire ride back to the valley... but it dawned on me as I crossed between civilization and elk paradise that I did not earn the elk I so coveted.
The word "earn" is what usually causes such distress; did I scout enough, shoot enough, hike enough, call enough, glass enough, sit on the tank long enough - so on and so on. This usually lasts for days if not weeks...
As excited as I was for this hunt, I made the tough decision to cheer on my sons football team, fix refrigerators, and show my face in the house of the lord. It became very evident on opening day that to stick an elk with an arrow you need to be single minded in you preparation and dedication before the season. And all excuses aside, I did not prepare in a way that would assure my success. I guess my contentment comes from the understanding that I may not have "earned" my elk but possibly much more as father, husband, and bible thumper. Life is about choices and I was happy with the ones I made...... but man would a massive elk filling the back of my truck be a sight to see and an accomplishment to be proud of. Next year... or ten.
I feel like I gained a ton of information about the unit I was hunting in and also how to hunt elk with a bow. Day 1 of my hunt consisted of me sitting and listening to Elk bugling all around me. It was incredible. with what knowledge I had and very limited ability to call I chased a couple bulls around for the morning. This Is when I discovered that taking an elk with my bow was not going to be easy.
Day 2 and 3 I spent with my hunting partner B. Bare. and friend M. Reed. Mike spent 30 days in the unit last year so he was able to give us tons of good information on where to go and what to do. With Mike we were able to get on a couple bulls but never able to get a shot.
The last weekend of the hunt I felt confident I would get a shot. We had seen a lot of elk in the unit so I felt my chances were high. Bryce and I went to a spot Mike had told us to go and sure enough there was a decent bull feeding with some cows. we setup on a beat down trail where we were sure they would come. We glassed them for a while and watch them feed down the hill. After we waited for about 15 minutes for the bull to come down the trail we decided to move up and see if we could find them. Once we found them again and realized they were not coming down the trail and were heading in another direction I then realized I was not going to take a bull only hunting on the weekends. I know that if I get the opportunity again to hunt Elk I will set aside at least 10 days of scouting and 10 days of hunting. From what I learned I think this is what it will really take to get it done.