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First Big Game Hunt Changes Perspective on Fishing

by: Ryan Wood 12/9/2012
I have been fishing for as long as I can remember, so it always seemed obvious to me that I would begin hunting someday, too. When my uncle gave me my great grandfather’s .30-06 a couple of years ago, I really got excited about finally going on my first big-game hunt. My uncle heard that the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge was going to issue 10 tags for each season this year to thin out their elk herd and that preference would be given to youth hunters. So we applied online and then waited to find out if I would draw. It seemed like forever between April and September, but it was a good day when the envelope with a third season, antlerless elk tag arrived.

The Friday before the opening day of third season, my dad, grandpa, uncle and I drove up to Walden for a mandatory pre-hunt meeting at the ANWR offices. Since the meeting was at one o’clock and we had a three-hour drive, I was only able to go to my first two classes and then had to leave school early – that was tough, but I survived. After the meeting, we drove around the part of the refuge that I could hunt on. Since we didn’t find any elk, we tried to focus on areas where they might move in early in the morning, or at least when shooting started on the BLM land surrounding the refuge.

After a good night’s sleep at the Walden Inn and Suites, we headed out early on Saturday to our spot. One of the rules for hunting on the refuge was that only one person could be with me while I was hunting, so my dad and grandpa were going to drive to some high spots and glass the area while my uncle and I hiked around the most promising spot we identified from the day before.

It was while we were hiking around that I first started to recognize some similarities between fishing and hunting. Instead of going to areas that were flat and had no trees, we focused on an area with a small creek and good access to surrounding areas where the elk may be moving in from. This is just like bass fishing where I am always looking for a spot that is different than everything else around it. Wide open flat areas are not where you usually find bass hanging out.

As we hiked around looking for specific areas that the elk would travel through, I thought that if this area was covered with water, these would be the same paths where bass would be traveling and waiting to ambush their prey.

It took until early afternoon, but a big herd of elk, probably 70 or so, walked right into the area we thought they would. We stalked them for a while and then I set up for my shot. It was about 250 yards and there were a couple of barbed wire fences between me and the elk. I waited until one opened up for a clear shot and I squeezed the trigger. As the herd spooked and started to scatter, my uncle and I were pretty sure I had hit it. We didn’t see it fall right away, but I didn’t take another shot because I figured I had one injured. We walked up to where the herd had been and used binoculars to look at the elk as they went over a fence, but we didn’t see any with a wound. So, unfortunately, I missed my first shot. We didn’t see any more the rest of the day.

On Sunday morning, we went to the same area to start our day. This time we hiked around some more and explored more of the “structure” that was there. At about 9 o’clock in the morning, I spotted a few elk that snuck into the area while we were hiking. I whispered to my uncle to stop, and turn his eyes to the left. About 150 yards away was a cow and two calves. I slowly got into position and waited for one of them to separate from the others so I could have a clear shot without another elk in the background. It was one of the calves that stepped out first. I wasn’t picky about how big of an elk I got, I just wanted to prove I could make a good shot. I got a good look at it through my scope and took my shot. It was a perfect shot from about 150 yards right through the heart. After just about 5 seconds, it dropped to the ground. Yes!

So, my first hunt was a success. I also found out that there are more similarities between elk hunting and bass fishing than I thought. The next time I am in my boat I will look at the sonar display with a whole different perspective on what it is telling me about where bass might be hanging out.
Blog content © Ryan Wood
Member comments
reconfisher, WY   12/9/2012 7:45:10 PM
Great job man! and nice read!
lewdog, CO   12/9/2012 9:59:04 PM
Excellent job shooting the calf. If you woulda shot momma, both calf probably would die. I bet that elk will taste a whole lot better than a stinky bass too. Nice read.
Coyute, CO   12/10/2012 10:59:37 AM
Nice one. Grats!
JKaboom, CO   12/10/2012 10:37:24 PM
Sounds like a great big game hunt and I bet that calf is super tender and yummy :)
BiggieSmalls, CO   12/11/2012 2:07:26 PM
Very cool man! That kind of thinking will only further your understanding of both.
Ryan Wood
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