It all started after I drew a late-season cow elk tag for my local hunting unit near my home in Garden Valley, Idaho. This was to be my first elk hunt and my hunting partners were my dad and his friend, Chad, and we were going to float down a nearby river to try to spot some elk.
When we were about 1 mile downstream, my dad realized he’d left the bullets in his truck, so he pulled the raft to the side and told Chad and me to stay there while he went back to the truck. While we waited for my dad to return, we saw some elk walk by. It would have been a perfect shot opportunity, but we didn’t have any bullets, so we had to just let them walk away. Shortly after the elk disappeared, my dad came back and we started hunting again. When we were just 1 more mile downstream, we saw a cow elk by herself. The cow crossed the river and slowly walked over the other bank. My dad told me to get up on the bank to try for a shot, so I got into position and looked through my riflescope. When I was ready and had the cow in my scope, I shot. A few seconds later, I saw the cow tip over!
When we walked up to the cow, we discovered that part of one of her back legs was missing from an old injury. It was completely healed over, though. We then knew that was why she was struggling to keep up with the other elk that had walked by us earlier in the day.
After my dad field-dressed the cow, we loaded everything into the truck and drove to my school. My dad works as a teacher there and he thought it would be all right for me to show my elk to my teachers. When we got to the school, I ran ahead and opened the doors to all of my classrooms and yelled, “Everyone come look, I just shot my first elk!” Everyone quickly came running outside to our truck. My dad was so embarrassed and he apologized to all of my teachers for me bursting into the classrooms the way that I did. My principal said it was OK, though, and that this would be the other students’ science lesson for the day!