The most challenging thing I've ever done. Hours upon hours on horseback in the wilds of Montana allowed me ample opportunity to consider the audacity of that statement—and I mean every bit of it.
If you've ever exhausted a considerable amount of effort chasing elk in the mountains, perhaps you can identify. Every waking moment of my first experience in elk country proved that cowboys still exist in the West. They're not gunslingers, and they've got no time for soaking in a saloon. They're elk hunting guides—guys such as John Way, Tim Beardsley and Blake Amberson from Adventures Outfitting—and each day they reinvent the meaning of the word "tough."
Fresh snow, temperatures in the single digits and getting acclimated to a high-altitude environment were just a few of the struggles I faced on a personal level. But finally, on the fourth day of my 5-day hunt for a backcountry bull, it all came together.
The unsuspecting 5x5 was standing broadside at 66 yards when I centered the bright red dot of my EOTech XPS2 just behind his shoulder. He took in a final breath of the freshest air an elk could breathe, then quietly bedded with tattered lungs. I respectfully finished the noble beast with a second shot and allowed him to expire in the stillness of the morning. Kneeling alongside him, I said a silent prayer of thanks for being granted such a tremendous big game blessing.
Watch for the full story in the November 2013 issue of North American Hunter.