(Lake Montezuma, Az)
It was opening day and I was ready to go. I was going to be turning 59 in a few weeks so I was nervous, excited and worried I would not be able to get it done. I had only hunted once before so this was a big deal for me. I had practiced, I had walked a lot to get into shape, and I had scouted.
Now it was all to become a reality. After dressing and collecting all my gear, I and some friends headed out to our first spot of the day. It was so very dark and cold, cold, cold. We arrived at the take-off point and left 2 guys in the truck for follow up.
Three of us took off along a quiet dirt track. We could hear elk moving off to our left but it was so dark we couldn't see anything yet. We quietly walked towards the noises and the day was just beginning to break.
All of a sudden, a big bull screamed to our left. We stopped in our tracks and all grinned at each other. I took a look at our location and I leaned up against a tree and waited. The bull crossed right in front of us and was followed by several cows. I was looking for a nice cow.
I had my rifle up, I had a beautiful cow in my view and I heard a truck. My friend told the truck driver there was a herd in front of us, the driver saw me looking down my scope and getting ready to take the safety off and said, "SO?" He gunned the truck and ran off the entire herd. Needless to say, I was a bit miffed.
The three of us turned east and headed up the mountain. About half-way up, the same herd crossed in front of us and I took my shot. Missed. Man, I needed to settle down and breath!
We continued climbing the mountain and that was when I realized that walking 3 or 4 miles every weekend was not enough to get ready for an elk hunt. I huffed, and puffed and I couldn't blow anything down. I couldn't catch my breath!.
We took a couple of short breaks but continued to go to the top of the mountain. Luckily, it was a small mountain or I never would have made it. When we got to the top, we started down the other side and my friend tapped me on my shoulder. There to my right was a cow and a spike.
The spike was directly behind the cow so I couldn't take a shot. Inside I was praying he would move but I was glad he stood there, at least until I could get my breath back. He finally moved out of the way and I carefully raised my rifle, aimed, and shot.
I hit! She didn't go down though. I had shot her in the front left shoulder. I reloaded and shot again. No good, reload, shoot, missed, reload, shoot, missed, reload, shoot, missed. It was almost comical, but so frustrating. I just kept missing and the cow elk stared at me like I was the worst she had ever seen.
It seemed to me that I was doing everything perfectly, but my friend told me I was shaking like a leaf! I got a little closer, took a deep breath, and took her out with a good shot to the neck.
Man, cow down at 8:30 opening morning! I thanked GOD, I thanked the elk, and I thanked my friends for helping me and not laughing out loud.
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