There are many women that go out and hunt. Do they do it alone or do they have someone with them? Each woman has a comfort level that is not easily overcome when it comes to hunting. Why do some of feel that we need a male to be our safety blanket? Why do we doubt our ability and knowledge?
This was a major year for me when it came to hunting. My husband and I own Alpine Archery and Fly. We had plans to take a week off and hunt together. However this didn’t happen due to a change in employees. We decided that he would keep the store open for all those that were hunting and be there for all their needs so they could be successful. It was decided that I would hunt because I wanted to and I am on Bow Chic’s hunting team. I really didn’t think about all the details but was really excited about the season to come.
As the time drew nearer, I realized that I would be doing it alone if I couldn’t find someone. I was terrified to go out by myself. I have a terrible sense of direction, haven’t harvested an animal since I was a kid (about 20 years), didn’t know really where to go, and didn’t know how to close the deal. People see me as a very strong person who can do just about anything. This is not how I saw myself. Panic and anxiety started to set in.
Knowledge was crucial if I was going to be able to do this. I needed to talk the same language as the elk. I had been practicing but still relied on my husband. My husband and a professional elk assassin said that I could bugle. Did I believe them? NO! I couldn’t chuckle or get that deep sound that I thought I needed. The elk talk differently depending on the time in the season. Could I be that juvenile bull just looking to play and later that mature bull that wanted to fight?
Equipment was another factor. I had to make sure that I had what I needed. The first thing was getting a Garmin. I needed to be able to know where I was going and where I had been. This was purchased early enough that I went on hikes exploring all the options that it had to offer. Maybe I wouldn’t get lost after all. I needed to have everything if I killed an animal or if I had to spend the night. There was so much gear and the pack was heavy, but I was confident that I had everything I needed minus the kitchen sink.
Alone or with someone? I preferred to go with someone just for my comfort and to share the experience with. Many people came into the shop and said that I could go with them or they would go with me. No firm offers and the time to start hunting was a week away. I made plans with another lady and we were going to go opening day. The night before she called and had a family emergency. I understood but was still disappointed. It was time to make the decision – Do I do it alone or not at all.
You guessed it – Do it alone. Opening weekend was so hard. I hiked down into a place so far and just sat down. I had all these doubts and fears running through me. I kept thinking that I couldn’t do it, and people were so wrong about me. I couldn’t do anything I set my mind on. Fear was crippling me.
That Sunday at church the message was on fear and not letting it control you. I knew that hunting was not what this passage was referring to but God was talking to me through it. The forest was created by God and made for me to enjoy not to fear the animals and all that could go wrong. God controls all things and has me in His hands. It was time to look at things through a new lens. I was ready to try again.
So I went up, hiked in, and found a spot that looked good. I sat there just listening to the animals and enjoying nature. I finally felt a peace. What a great feeling. Nothing in my life had ever felt so rewarding. There was hope. OK, so I could do this.
I had a guy go out with me to a spot that I had picked. We took off that morning in the dark before dawn. I was bugling and he was raking and using a cow call. Nothing for a couple of hours …..Then I buguled and a bull responded back. GAME ON!!!! We went back and forth ; he was raking and started to chuckle. I didn’t even think about it. I answered back with a bugle and chuckle. I couldn’t do a chuckle in the shop but it was great out in the woods. I was one with him. I was speaking his language. A second bull started to play with us too. I got so wrapped up in the game, I forgot what I was out there to do. When I started to think about getting ready and set up. This beautiful 4 point bull came over the top the little hill I hadn’t noticed. HE WAS LESS THAN 10 YARDS FROM ME! He raked and bugled in my face. I couldn’t move, I was out in the open. The guy that I was with, quit doing everything and was hoping for a backup shot if I couldn’t get one. All he could see was the tips of his antlers and his breath.
I had a head on shot but wouldn’t take that. I wanted to make a good shot. He turned and left me his back side exposed. No shot available. The thicket only allowed me to see from mid body up. He just slowly walked away. I took off in the direction that he went. Raked and he answered again. I was trying to get to where he was. It became very thick in the trees with lots of windfall to get over and around. He continued to play for a while. There was a point that we both were done. I sat there loving the experience. I knew that I could bugle and talk the talk. It was time for the season. Elk fever was running through my veins.
I spent the next few weeks mainly hunting by myself with a couple of days with others. I loved talking with the elk, but just couldn’t close the deal. The last week when the elk should be in the rutt, I tried going out with someone new. She had hunted many years. She took me to her area. We stepped out of the vehicle and they were already talking. She had a different style than mine but it has worked for her. We were able to have one come in twice to us.
By this point, I am a changed person. I love to run after the elk, and play with them. I want to see if I can close the deal by myself or do I just not have it yet. I had come so far and wanted to see if I could finish the race I started. I played with them some more but could never close the deal. I know that I can with a little more experience. Next year cannot come soon enough.
Remember that there are times that our fears help us grow in ways that we never could imagine. Don’t run from your fear but embrace them and step forward. You never know where you will go or what will happen. Have faith in your ability and don’t doubt your knowledge and experience. Train and be the best that you can be. It is only about your journey. Don’t judge your path by another person’s path. I would not have changed a thing about this season. I am dreaming about next year already.