In 2005 I was in the 5th grade when my grandfather told me he’d take me elk hunting if I made my school’s honor roll. Elk hunting was something I’d always wanted to do, and I wanted to go so badly I not only made the honor roll for the quarter, I made it all year!
When the day finally came, my dad and I flew to El Paso, Texas, to meet my grandfather. He’d left 4 days earlier to drive to El Paso with all of our hunting gear. After we met him in El Paso, we drove to Cloud Croft, New Mexico, and met our hunting guide, Foy Wells, who’s a retired high school teacher.
As we were coming back from checking my gun—a .338 Win. Mag.—that afternoon, Foy told us about an old trailer he’d put out in the forest for a blind, and he suggested we stay there all night so we could be in the woods at first light. We got into the trailer about an hour before sunset and stayed inside the whole night. It was the longest night of my life!
At first light the next morning, I saw a bull walk right in front of the trailer, about 20 feet away. It was still dark outside, but I could tell he was huge. As it got lighter, he moved farther down the meadow. I had my scope on him, but just as I was ready to shoot, he walked behind a tree. Foy started to cow call, but the bull was already moving his cows out of the meadow. Just then, another bull appeared out of nowhere and Foy told me he, too, was a really good bull. He asked me if I wanted to shoot him and I said “Yes!” Foy then told me to “Take him!” and I squeezed the trigger. The bull ran about 50 yards and then fell over! My grandfather later measured the distance at 169 yards. This wasn’t only my first elk, but also my first-ever big game animal! He was a great 5x5 and weighed about 850 pounds.
What made this hunt even more special was the fact my dad and grandfather were right there next to me to share in the experience. It was a day I’ll never forget.