I understand now that success isn’t solely measured by an animal on the bottom.

Round 15 years in the past, I noticed the writing on the wall that future hunts in far-off locations have been going to get more and more more durable to return by as a consequence of provide versus demand for tags. Due to this, I began constructing factors and making use of for extra states throughout the West and past than I’m prepared to confess to. Since that point, rather a lot has modified within the tag sport, and though I might go on and on about my ever-growing dislike for level techniques and the like, I’ll save that for an additional time. As an alternative, I need to share with you ways I’m beginning to reap the rewards of all my analysis, time, and cash spent in terms of drawing tags right here and there.

As comfortable as I’m that I’ve reached this level and am attending to hunt extra typically as a substitute of simply banking factors, drawing these tags comes with a number of stress. The stress being to not solely fill the tag that I’ve waited so lengthy for, however to fill that tag with an animal worthy of all of the assets I’ve spent to amass mentioned tag.

Earlier than you crucify me for that final assertion, let me say that any animal taken deserves reverence for endng its life, but when all I needed to do was simply shoot any animal, I might merely hunt inside just a few miles of my residence right here in Idaho the place I don’t want desire factors or costly out-of-state license charges. This stress I really feel on these hunts comes from many locations: mates, household, acquaintances, the dreaded social media, and largely from myself, to be trustworthy.

Over the previous few years, I’ve tried exhausting to handle this stress, and as I age and mature, to place issues into perspective. What follows are a number of the ideas and emotions I’ve gone by on this course of.


My Largest Take a look at

Within the spring of 2021, I made a decision I used to be going to burn my Wyoming factors that I had been constructing for greater than a decade. Wyoming is a state I like to hunt, and drawing an elk tag there was a dream of mine for a really very long time. So, after I lastly drew a tag, I knew the hunt needs to be an excellent one, with a better-than-average alternative to kill an excellent bull. I additionally knew that drawing this tag might very probably be my solely hunt in a high Wyoming unit in my lifetime.

The hunt began off wonderful, with a lot of motion. As a matter of truth, the elk have been so vocal, there have been days I couldn’t even take pleasure in camp as a result of bulls would begin bugling noon and draw me away from my camp chair — and my noon nap.

After passing up just a few small and midsized bulls early within the hunt, my buddy Matt known as a pleasant six-point bull proper into my lap. As I watched the bull stroll by me at 13 yards, I began to have second ideas about my choice. Deep down although, I knew that wasn’t the bull I got here to Wyoming for. Nonetheless, for the subsequent a number of days because the rut continued to warmth up and herd bulls grew to become more and more harder to lure away from their harems, my inside strife over passing up that six-point solely intensified.

It’s fairly cool to be exploring and chasing elk the place these earlier than us carved out a residing. Wyoming gave me a number of reminiscences, simply not a bull elk for my wall.

A number of days later, my brother and Matt needed to head residence for work obligations, and I used to be left alone in Wyoming to chase elk. The following day was bitter chilly, and with a recent blanket of snow on the bottom and bulls screaming, it was one of the vital magical days of elk looking I’ve ever skilled.

As I climbed the mountain by a recent blanket of snow towards the bugling bulls above me, I observed the stress was beginning to go away me. I known as in and handed on a pleasant, younger six-point bull. An hour later, I called-in that very same bull and handed him once more.

1 / 4-mile later, I had a number of extra subpar bulls cross by inside bow vary, however under me I might hear cows and what I believed to be a giant herd bull. I labored in silently towards his bugles and eventually discovered myself him by the underbrush at 60 yards.

I acknowledged him because the superior double-sword bull I had been after, and when he went behind a tree, I slithered nearer. I knew I used to be getting shut as a result of I might hear him strolling round. Abruptly, I jumped a cow and the herd bolted. I ended the now quartering-away bull at 45 yards, and though I wanted this story ended in another way, it didn’t, as a result of I flat blew the shot and the bull and his cows ran off and shortly continued with their rutting festivities.

Being prepared to cross up alternatives makes the hunt rather more pleasing as you get to witness extra up-close motion.

As I sat there in disbelief of what had simply occurred, I began to take all of it in. It had been a phenomenal morning with unimaginable elk looking, and I had acquired inside bow vary of the caliber bull I’d come to Wyoming for. It was proper then that I noticed that as a lot as I needed to kill an elk, I didn’t “have” to kill an elk to think about the hunt a hit. Full disclosure right here: I’ve no want to fall into a bunch of fellows who by no means shoots something apart from footage of sunsets. I’m fortunate to fall into a bunch who has been on dozens of hunts for elk and different species over time, and extra of them have been profitable than unsuccessful. I’m not saying this to return throughout as a braggart, however to tell you that that is coming from a spot the place I’m gaining perspective quite than from the jaded view of a man who by no means kills something. It was simply refreshing to appreciate that was the sort of bull I used to be after on this hunt, and I needed to kill one like that or go residence empty-handed, understanding I attempted my greatest to meet that purpose.

From that time on, I loved that hunt immensely. The next day, I acquired in on one other nice bull and had my bow drawn and wanted him to take yet one more step, however he winded me and bolted. A pair days later, I snuck in and practically acquired a shot at two massive bulls as they have been in the midst of an enormous combat. These encounters stored occurring, and I skilled elk looking like by no means earlier than. Nearly as good because the looking was, I figured there was no likelihood I would depart with out killing a bull. Nonetheless, after 18 days of elk looking, I left Wyoming with no bull however with a really glad feeling for the hunt I had and the way I had finished. I assume this maturity factor could be attending to me in any case.

Social Media Monster

I would be the first to confess that I spend an excessive amount of time on social media, and looking season could be a loopy time on-line. Most of my mates and followers are hunters, and evidently each time you hit service and examine your telephone, somebody has killed one other monster buck or bull.

One of many greatest advantages of looking is time spent with family and friends, and this time needs to be cherished.

It’s straightforward to get caught up on this and begin doubting your self and your abilities. Truthfully, although, everyone seems to be in a special scenario, looking totally different areas with totally different situations. I’ve a number of mates who actually battle with everybody they “know” posting kill pics. I realized a very long time in the past that happening that rabbit gap isn’t productive. As an alternative, I simply inform them congrats and get again to work on the duty at hand.

Cash Is Irrelevant

No, I’m not a person with deep pockets, however I typically hear issues like, “That’s an costly tag, you must kill one.” To this I say, if you happen to’re frightened in regards to the cash, you shouldn’t be occurring these hunts anyway. As soon as the tag is purchased and I’m on the journey, I don’t fear in regards to the cash. I refuse to let the cash I spent be my motivation for why I “have” to kill an animal. In my view, that degrades the whole expertise and actually misses the purpose of the journey. As an alternative, I give attention to having fun with the mountains and the time I get to spend there — each alone and with family and friends.

Let It Go

Take my Wyoming hunt, for instance. As soon as I forgot in regards to the stress and simply began attempting to find the bull I needed as a substitute of being so targeted on having to kill an elk, it was simply extra pleasing. Being in the midst of animals and coexisting with them is a blast. This occurs rather more typically while you aren’t attempting to kill each single bull or buck in bow vary. It’s wonderful if you find yourself in a herd, and also you get to look at how they work together with each other for an prolonged time period since you don’t mess it up by firing an arrow.

I accompanied my brother, Jeremy, on his Utah bison hunt, the place we each really simply took all of it in on this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

One other good thing is attending to benefit from the looking that always comes with exhausting attracts or once-in-a-lifetime tags. In 2019, my brother drew a coveted Utah Henry Mountains bison tag. It is a once-in-a-lifetime draw, that means even if you happen to don’t kill a bull, that is your solely tag. Thankfully, he killed an excellent bull with two hours to spare on a 10-day hunt, however the entire time we have been in awe of simply attending to be there, and I felt blessed to be part of it. If we had been so singularly targeted on having to kill a bison, it could have enormously taken away from this wonderful expertise.

You additionally typically expertise a lot better looking than you do in OTC or normal areas. This lets you hunt in another way and extra successfully than you’d in areas with excessive looking stress. Use this to your benefit, hunt good and exhausting, however benefit from the expertise and don’t let the stress to kill erode your expertise.


Now in my early 40s, I’m hopefully a great distance from driving off into the sundown. I plan to take pleasure in many extra hunts sooner or later. I are inclined to hunt alone as of late, and I’ve loads of time to consider what actually drives me and why I do the hunts I do. I swear after I was youthful, I realized extra about elk on each hunt. These days, it appears I simply study extra about myself. I’ve realized that each technology will speak in regards to the “good outdated days.” I’ve seen my share of nice looking, and I’m grateful for all these experiences.

I’ve had my share of high-pressure hunts and success is nice, however it will probably’t be the one purpose.

I additionally understand that issues change and that to proceed looking I’ve to alter my perspective on some issues and that the times of limitless tags, low looking stress, and screaming bulls on each ridge doubtless isn’t coming again. The one time I’ll in all probability ever expertise this going ahead is after I draw these particular tags in particular locations. So, after I do get these alternatives, I can’t let the stress from outdoors — and inside — spoil my expertise. As an alternative, I’m going to reside it up, give it my greatest, and drink up each minute.

The writer is an avid hunter who lives in Idaho along with his spouse and children.

Writer’s Observe: My gear features a PSE EVO XF bow, Possibility sight and Quivalizer, Hamskea Epsilon relaxation, and KUIU clothes and packs.

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