During Fall Break I went elk hunting in CO.

What I would like to do in this post is give credit to God for his goodness. I would also like to give some account of how this hunt went. For those who are not interested in hunting or what goes along with it, you may want to break off now.

A little over two years ago one of my younger brothers approached me about going elk hunting in CO. He had been out there before with some degree of success. So, I decided to prepare and move to that end.

You need X amount of points per to hunt. So we got one point in 2015, our party consisted of five individuals. In 2016 we applied for first season with the rifle and were accepted. I secured some of the necessary items and my rifle was a Mossberg .270 which isn’t the biggest gun but it works. I borrowed a car and drove two full days to get to Norwood, CO.

For those who are tracking my walk through life, you might know that my family vacationed earlier this summer and traveled out west extensively. So it was with some nostalgia that I backtracked much of our route on I-40 all the way to Albuquerque, NM. Actually, I stayed at an RV park in Amarillo TX the first night. By the second night I had met up with my brother in Norwood.

Joas, my brother, brought most of the gear: a stove, an outfitter tent, chainsaw, meat grinder, and a bunch of other stuff. We set up that Wed. evening, Oct. 12. The next day two more men joined us and the following day the fifth guy joined. Sat. morning is when we had the opening day.

“How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

We made our plans beforehand, how we would approach the hunt. This was our first time there and I was acutely aware that we were just learning the terrain. We decided that three of us younger men would go into the infamous “Preacher’s Hole” where terrain was the most difficult.

What were the odds that I, a first time elk hunter would get anything? Did I have any grounds to ask God for success and did he have any obligation to me, or for that matter any desire to bless me? If I were blessed with success what about the other men? How does all this work? How does he decide such things? His judgements are past finding out.

The morning of, we woke up at a zealous 4:30AM. We made bacon, eggs, and drank coffee, at least some of us drank coffee. I asked the Lord like I had many times over to grant me success. Why not? Why not ask him for success?

By 6:30AM I was in the woods and moving. By 10AM I was descending into the Preacher’s Hole (see pic above). I found an antler shed by a pool of water accompanied by the skeleton of a once strong bull Elk (see the pic above). I decided to not carry this antler shed with me as it would hinder me but I did note where I found them and reverently left the scene as is.

At 11AM we met in the larger meadow of the Preacher’s Hole. Joas had seen some elk but I and the other guy had not. We rested for a while and then decided to take off in different directions. The walkie talkies were barely working so we determined to not worry about staying in contact, to just go it alone. By 11:30AM or so, we took off. I went north, Joas went NW and Andy went West.

At noon I was walking in some dark timber thinking to myself…. “seriously, what am I doing here and what are the odds that I will even see anything?” Not five minutes later I was walking quietly along looking down the mountainside when I noticed a distinct patch of brown. Looking carefully, I noticed that a cow was looking at me. I stood behind several trees and subsequently knew that she didn’t see me clearly and therefore didn’t know my true identity.

My brother told me earlier that many hunters lose opportunity because they can’t make up their minds to take a shot or get nervous and the animal ends up running away. He told me to move very fast once the situation presented itself.

So, seeing the elk, knowing that she couldn’t identify me clearly, seeing that I didn’t have a vitals shot, and knowing that I had better move quickly, I did. I slung the rifle off my shoulder, took the safety off even as I was moving out from behind the tree and going down to my knee. My only option was a head shot. I rested my left elbow on my left knee and as soon as I got her in my crosshairs I aimed at the forehead and BOOM. This process may have taken 10 or so seconds. Her head dropped and it was all over. I shot an elk!!

I got on my walkie talkie quickly to contact Joas and Andy before they got too far away. I got to Joas first and told him where I was. He was there in about 20 minutes, Andy got there afterward.

They skinned and quartered the elk, I pretty much helped as I wasn’t as skilled as they were. Then…packing out the elk was the hardest thing I ever did. Elevation was between 10,000-11,000 feet. Joas took out the two front quarters, Andy and I took out one of the hindquarters each. Wow. There were no trails, no roads, just dead trees and massive elevation challenges. It was a little over two miles to get out of there and it was exhausting. Unfortunately, I was the slowest one.

However, at the end of the day the Lord blessed me and my bullet went true. I was amazed. I do believe that the elk was a gift from God. I do. He guides the arrow, the bullet, etc. He gives the increase and the health to go after it. It was an incredible challenge but a wonderful experience.

The next day Phil Steen and I spent most of the day butchering the elk. The third day, having nothing else to do, I went back and found the shed of antlers and brought them back to camp.

On the way back home I finished listening to “Augustine’s Confessions” and “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Williard. These are both amazing reads/listens.

I arrived home safely, thankful for the experience and thankful that God gave me a gift.  Undeserving and yet still a recipient of his grace, I now rest.