Harvesting an elk with my bow, was more than just a hunt. It was a culmination of preparation, hard work, practice, sweat, tears, teamwork, coordination, and overcoming an injury. It also taught me perseverance and humility.
I didn’t grow up hunting. I just knew this was something I wanted to do. I bought my first bow in 2010, but only managed to go out a couple of times. I didn’t really have anyone who would take me—that is until I met my husband. Although when I first met him, I just wanted him to be my hunting partner.
We spent almost every weekend hunting together during archery season, and I learned quite a bit from him that year, even though I still had yet to harvest an elk.
Almost immediately after that first archery season, I started having back issues. I went from doing Cross Fit regularly, running, snowboarding, and everything else that was physically active, to are not able to walk. When you are in your 20’s, used to a life of adventure, and then suddenly are faced with the inability to get out of bed in the morning, it is a very humbling experience.
Fortunately for me, I had back surgery 10 months later which was successful. The downside of it was that I was not sure if I would be able to do everything I did prior to the surgery, including archery hunting. I just wasn’t sure about my ability to hunt and pack out an animal if I was successful.
The thing about bow hunting is that to increase your chances of a successful hunt, you need to go where most humans are not willing to go. That being said, we hunt in some of the most rugged and dense forests the coastal mountains have to offer. We also go several miles in to make sure we escape civilization. Because of this, I was extremely nervous about my back.
Shortly after my surgery, I learned about a North West Ladies Hunting Camp. I attended the camp in 2016 and learned a lot. First off, there are a lot of female hunters out there and there are a lot of really good female hunters. I took classes on all sorts of things and learned a lot about how to increase my odds of success.
I spent months talking to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife biologists in the area, I went down the Forestry Department and ODFW and obtained maps, I learned the geography and lay of the land to figure out where the elk may spend their time. I would shoot my bow every day after work. We even went into our spot, ahead of season, and cleared some brush to help us make a quieter entry once the season opened for hunting. All of this preparation paid off.
On the morning of the second day of the season, I killed my first elk. He was a 6 point Roosevelt bull—easily weighing more than 1000 lbs. It was just my husband and me, so it took us over 14 hours to pack out the elk. The terrain was so steep, I worried I would fall because of having to carry all that weight in my pack. There were moments I questioned my sanity, moments where my eyes teared with joy, but most of all, I was just thankful. I was thankful for the elk giving us his life so we could have organic meat in the freezer, I was thankful our hard work paid off, and I was thankful my back held up during this trip.
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