Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Above the Clouds

10 years.  Here I am, again.  Opening Day.  Same hunting unit, 3rd rifle season, same objective. Harvest an elk. This being my tenth season, there is a special feeling.  Persevering through the last decade in pursuit of the elusive wapiti gives me great satisfaction.

If I were a baseball player, 3-for-9 is a great batting average.  2-for 2 over the last two seasons? Even better!  Now the pressure is on to keep the streak going.

In hunting though, you realize the odds are stacked against you.  No matter.  The experiences, life lessons, laughter, sights and sounds make it all worthwhile.  A successful hunt?  That feeling is indescribable.

I am ready to give it a go and see if the hunting gods will bless me during season 10 of this journey.  I'm set up in "The Meadow" atop the Continental Divide ready and waiting for the elk to make an appearance.  Peaceful does not begin to explain the feeling when you are taking in the natural beauty this vantage point offers.  

There is one big difference though on this Opening Day.  I'm sitting next to my son.  It is his first elk hunt.  I have been waiting for this moment for many years now.  There is so much I want to teach him.  So much I want to show him on this hunting trip.

I'm fairly certain he'll never forget his first trek up to "The Meadow."  Not for the nostalgic reasons that you think.  Suffice it to say, we had a bit of "land nav" difficulty. No excuses, just the fact this is the first time in my years of hunting this area where I didn't have the advantage of either snow, moonlight, or both, while heading into the black timber at 5:30 on a November morning.

I mentioned the learning experiences hunting offers, right?  Well, this was one of them.  I learn something every year I go up there.  I either learn something about myself, something about nature or something about elk.  And sometimes that learning encompasses all three.  Always learning, not a bad way to live.

After a couple of what I'll describe as short detours, we made it to "The Meadow" as daylight was getting ready to break.  He had been giving me some good-natured grief as we trudged up the mountain on those short detours and that continued as we were getting set up.  I giggled.  Lesson #1 for son on first elk hunt compliments of dear 'ol Dad...Check!

Sitting next to him, I think to myself the view is the same, the feel is different.  It is different because I am sharing it with my son.  It is a feeling of being above the clouds.