Growing up, I was not a hunter, nor did I have any desire to be. My dad and brother were huge into hunting, but I did not see the appeal. I blame my mother. (Sorry, Mom.)
When I was younger, I just believed whatever my mom said, which was mostly about how hunting was gross, and she couldn’t believe anyone would want to shoot a poor little animal. We never really ate game growing up, unless it was in the form of jerky, in which I am not a huge fan.
Fast forward 15 years. I had moved to Montana and was living with my friend, Kori. She was the best roommate a kid could ask for, because she loved to cook… and I love to eat. She would make numerous assortments of wild game for us to eat, and it was always delicious. I began questioning why we never had game growing up- after all, the boys in the family would harvest an animal almost every year. We would always give the meat away to families that liked it more than us. But why?! It’s delicious!
I eventually moved back home to Wyoming, and started working at an office where both of my bosses hunted. I started hearing all these stories about how fun hunting was, and the adventures these guys were having. I made a few new friends who were also very into hunting. There was always something new and exciting that hunting was bringing into their lives.
In the winter, when the big bucks and bulls were down from the mountains, they would go scouting. They would have pictures and stories of these animals that are usually hidden, and nobody ever gets to see unless you specifically know how to find them. In the spring, they would go horn hunting. Summer brought weeks of string replacing, bow tuning, 3D shoots, and dreams of fall. Then September would come, and their excitement was almost obnoxious. Hunting talk all day, every day. And, well, you know what they say, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” So I did.
My boss, Eric, offered to let me use his daughter’s bow for the season. Straight from Cabela’s, she was a dual cam Buckshot, all of I think 23″ in draw length. A real lethal weapon. Even when turned up to 50 lbs, I set myself a limit of taking an elk at 25 yards or closer, because any further than that and I could pretty much count the seconds from the time the arrow took flight to the time it hit my target. Lethal, I tell you.
My friend, John, gave me his sight to use, my dad and cousin gave me some very worn and much too large camo to wear, and my friend Jared gave me his old release and some of his old arrows to use. Let’s not forget the Golden Spinner broadheads my dad and I pulled out of one of his hunting boxes in storage.
I shot every single day in an attempt to get myself up to snuff, sometimes multiple times per day. I felt I was years behind everyone else that would be venturing out on September 1st, and I was damn sure not going to make a fool of myself. I wanted to know that if I finally got the chance to take an elk, I would not miss from any fault of my own. I was shooting precisely and accurately at 35 yards, (remember I had limited myself to 25 yards for an animal), and I was confident in my shot. Jared had taught me about back tension the day I got my borrowed bow, and I was very careful to practice good shooting methods from the beginning (both eyes open, back tension, loose grip on the bow with my bow arm etc). I was officially The Hand-Me-Down Archer, and as September approached, I was daggum excited. I felt lethal, and I had never felt so good.