I'm excited to announce that my husband, Troy, will be contributing posts here on FromtheDraw. It will add a nice addition, so that you can hear about our experiences out in the field, from both of us. Now you will not only get my side of the story, but also his side.
He has written the below article on social hunting ... not the social media aspects that we now often relate to the word "social", but rather good old fashion, face-to-face friendly social hunting, and how it can have a positive impact on your hunting experience.
In the early weeks of August 2013, I packed up the camper and prepared to leave for the mountains. I was excited to be back up in the pines and aspens where the elk and deer make their home. This is a place where I go to shed the year of mental anguish of all the stuff I endured and experienced at the fire house. I love my job, but things seen on duty can really take a toll on you, from a fatal car accident to a structure fire where the family loses everything. You feel so sad for them, and yes, the calls involving kids seem to tug the hardest on your heart. Come September, I'm ready for the stress-relief of living in the mountains for a while where the only 'call' heard is from a bugling elk in the distance.
Back to my topic: Meeting new friends!
You see, I'm a social hunter. At least I think of myself as one and some people in my camp don't necessarily dig that I am. I spend 32-35 days in the mountains of Colorado hunting elk and part of this time I'm by myself. I think of the other folks in the mountains as my neighbors and I like to make sure that if my neighbors ever need something, they can call on me to help. And this year was no different. Upon arriving in the mountains on Wednesday night the 28th of August at 5:00 P.M., the area we always set up camp was still open. I began to set up our camp and settle in for the month.
The next morning, I woke up and started my usual routine of visiting abandoned summer camps, picking up the left-over fire wood. On the way back, I noticed a couple of archery hunters that moved in just above us and they had a motor home pulling three four wheelers. I, being a "Social Hunter," stopped in to welcome them. I had never seen these guys in the area and I always like to know my hunting neighbors. So, I pulled in and introduced myself. They said their names were Darwin and Mark from Michigan and offered me a beer. While talking, they stated there would be a third hunter, Jeff, joining them during the third week of the season.
That morning, we sat talking of seasons past, and figured out the reason I hadn't met them before. They had hunted the area in 2003 when we didn't draw that unit. After our talk, I let them know if they needed anything to come on over. They returned the same offer and I went back to finish getting camp set up for my fellow hunters that were scheduled to arrive on Friday, the day before opening day.
I have met some great people while elk hunting and would encourage other hunters to be friendly to your 'neighbors' while hunting. It doesn't take a lot of effort, but it is worth it for several reasons. A friendship could develop, especially if you hunt the same unit year after year. Or it could be that you simply end up helping each other out ... a flat tire in mountains, tips on the area, etc. (I'm not suggesting that you give away all of your honey-holes, but even coordinating where you're planning on hunting the next morning so you aren't "stepping on toes" - is a good thing.)
Jeff and his cow elk - taken during Archery season in Colorado
Here's a good example of what I'm taking about ... It turned out that I helped Jeff fill his tag by showing him an area to hunt and helping him know how to use his elk calls. I explained the importance of not just using the same call over and over. Elk calls need to be used to mimic talking like elk. Think about it... calling the same way continuously is as annoying as someone yelling to you, "Come here. Come here. Come here." I'd ignore that too. It is important to know when to call, how often, and to vary the calls used.
After our elk calling lesson 101, we made our way to an area not far from camp, but where we've frequently seen elk come through. After a sequence of calling, several cows and a really nice bull showed themselves to us. However, a shot wasn't presented for Jeff. The next morning, Jeff made his way back to the same area by himself, while I headed to town to wash some camouflage badly in need of becoming scent-free once again. When I returned, Jeff was in camp waving his arms up and down. He had shot a cow and was waiting for Mark and Darwin to get back to help him with the meat. Not knowing when they would return, I quickly told him, "Let's go get your elk!" We ended up packing it off the mountain before his buddies returned to camp.
I loved helping out my new friend, because I knew he paid a lot of money for an out-of-state tag in Colorado. I was thrilled to see him take some meat home! He only had one week to get it done during the archery season, and he did just that. I was glad I got to play a small part. If I can help one guy put an elk on the ground it's worth it to me!
This is what hunting is all about. Meeting great people, enjoying the country that God has given us to hunt, and feeding our families. Congratulations, Jeff!
After Jeff headed home, Mark (one of the other Michigan hunters) harvested his biggest mule deer ever. We were in camp that afternoon, when he came by with his Muley strapped to the front of his 4 wheeler. He was taking his time, one hand on the antlers and the other steering, making sure his buck would make it safely back. We saw him coming and all ran out to congratulate him.
I have a 50-yard picture of this very buck in full velvet from the year prior (pic below). Of course, we didn't have a deer tag that year, so we shot him with the camera. He truly is an amazing buck and we were thrilled to share in Mark's joy of arrowing this trophy. Congratulations, Mark, on dropping the hammer on this guy.
In looking back over the years, we've made some great friends out in the woods. I'd encourage you to do the same. Enjoy the hunt, be social and have a positive impact on fellow hunters in the field. I'm looking forward to getting back out there in nine months, to get some stress relief, catch up with friends and have a chance at re-stocking some freezers!
From the Draw
A website devoted to sharing bowhunting stories. From the draw in the mountains to the draw on paper, the moments live on.