Thursday, September 20, 2018

Well, today was our last day of elk hunting for 2018. It poured the entire night, sometimes raining so hard that I couldn’t hear myself think. As it started winding down toward morning, I thought about getting up to give it a whirl. When I poked my head out of the tent it was so foggy, I couldn’t see far enough to walk 20 yards. Figuring that would affect a lot of different things, I decided to sleep in and try to get some rest for the trip home.

We all headed out in the evening and decided to go on the mountain behind the tent, where dad missed the bull earlier in the week. Alex got some awesome footage on this hunt, especially during the climb to the summit when we had to reach out in front of us and feel our way to the top.

With an hour of daylight left, I stood on top of the mountain and felt incredibly small. I never heard a bugle on the final night. There was something fitting about that, even though I’m not sure what caused that feeling. I climbed this mountain for the first time over 25 years ago, but I’m not sure I felt so small at that time of my life. Life’s experiences has a tendency to do that to people. It makes us realize our place in life.

We jumped a few elk on the way down the mountain, but darkness had already taken over, and we had no chance at getting close to them.

This trip was an eye-opening experience for me. I never expected Alex to be able to keep up to me and Brian. He surpassed all of my expectations. I also can’t believe how passionate he is about his work and actually working. He put everything he had into his work. It was a pleasure to watch his passion unfold in front of me every day. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.

Although he started the project four years ago to make an art exhibition, the project has unfolded into a film documentary and will make its debut at an outdoor film festival, hopefully sometime next year. The film will be about an hour and a half long and feature five subjects, me being one of them. I look forward to seeing the film, but I really have no idea what to expect. We have done so many things, and I’ve participated in more interviews than one can imagine, that it makes it hard to imagine that everything could be smashed into an hour and thirty minutes, especially since Alex probably spent the same amount of time with the four other subjects. I do know that the videography and still photos will be second to none, and I look forward to admiring his work, especially the work he did on this trip.

One day while I was walking up the mountain, everything got put into perspective when I asked him if he thought what we were doing every day was a little obsessive, like crazy. He laughed for a few minutes and responded, “I’m beginning to think so. I probably wouldn’t be doing anything like this. It’s pushing yourself beyond the limits of a normal person.”

I gazed at him and thought, “Mmmm, how am I any different than you? You’re doing the same exact thing, except your end goal is finishing your documentary.”

I’m pretty sure he didn’t think about it that way. It’s amazing how we look at the things that other people do and how we rate them or compare them compared to what we do ourselves.

I had a great trip this year. I wish I didn’t get sick, but I battle through it and made the best of it. I made some great new friends and expect those relationships to grow and form a solid foundation for the future. It’s awesome meeting people and sharing experiences with them when they share the same passions. I haven’t killed an elk in 12 years, but that’s okay with me. I still love seeing elk, and I love hearing them bugle. The bugle echoing off the canyon walls is what makes it all worth it for me. I live for that noise and the excitement that comes along with it. I’m beginning to realize how fortunate I was to have killed so many elk when I started elk hunting. It seemed like I was able to arrow one every year……………..and it seemed so damn easy. I’m finally realizing how difficult the task can be to even get close enough to one to draw my bow. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get a shot again, but I do know that every day I can see the arrows I shot early on when I research my memory bank.

Deer hunting season opens in New York this week. I haven’t done nearly enough homework, but I’ll go out and learn on the fly. Since I’ve slacked off so much this year, I don’t have much of a plan for the beginning stages of the season besides finding food and rubs and sitting close to both of them.

I’m researching places to go in Illinois in November. I almost have it narrowed down to a few places. It’s a shot in the dark once again, so I’m not sure what to expect. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find a gold mine. Only time will tell. Shoot straight and enjoy your time in the woods.

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