Have you had those moments? The ones where you come to battle with your conscience? You have to decide in the seconds what to do. You have to know right from wrong and deal with the results of your decision. My daughter, aka, LG, has been through hunter safety, shooting safety and has been a member of the NRA YHEC program for a number of years. She’s learned more than how to be safe and how to shoot. This week LG shares her experience, how she came up empty-handed and how she’s satisfied with her decision.
No matter how old or how young a hunter is they will always experience one major situation. A heart-pounding event of shoot or don’t shoot. Many times an animal may present it’s self in a situation where you may have to hesitate.
This year on one of my elk hunting adventures I had this shocking moment. As my friend and I were headed home, near the end of the first day of season, it was just getting late. It was very dramatic as the sunset and the dust flew behind us down the dirt road. The sunset began to fade away and it was almost the end of shooting light. I was half asleep in the passenger seat and happened to crack an eye open when there were four big bodies in the road.
The brakes screeched us to a halt and my friend, and adult who should be a mentor, yelled “Look at that bull!” A very respectable 6×6 stepped out and began crossing the road. I watched in awe while my friend was telling me to get out and shoot him.
I didn’t shoot. I couldn’t shoot. Why I didn’t shoot, 1 – not legal in road. 2 – not legal within 50yds of road. 3 – private property on the other side of the fence.
No words were coming out of my mouth. I was shocked that I was seeing this dream bull of mine. It was right there in front of me, broadside. There was a rush of the situation. I did get out. I stood a looked at the big 6×6 bull, in awe.
The majestic bull made it to the other side of the road. I was still in shock that this was happening to me. There seemed to be a little voice in the back of my head telling me to shoot it. It was really my friend behind me. My gun never made it to my shoulder before the bull disappeared into the trees.
We both hopped back in the truck and my mind started to race, thinking of all the outcomes that could’ve happened. I could’ve had my tag filled. I could be done with the hunt. We could be doing the hard work of field dressing a big bull elk. The worst part of the situation was the friend nagging me and saying how I did wrong.
When we finally got home the bull was still in my mind. I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about those minutes that seemed like hours.
Finally, I lay down for bed. I thought one last time about what had happened. I told myself I had made not only the right decision but also the best decision. I went to bed and woke up the next morning pleased with what I had, or rather had not, done and hunted on the next four days.
I never did fill my tag, but I got to hunt with another friend, a better mentor. Together we called several elk within yards of us. Some were just spikes. Some wouldn’t give me a clear shot. Still others were lazy in their beds and wouldn’t come out to play. Overall it was an amazing experience to be that close to so many big animals. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
There are many influences in hunting, whether it’s yourself or one of your friends or family. A big key to remember all through your hunting career is to never underestimate yourself. Take control of the situation, you are the only one who can decide the big fate of shoot or don’t shoot. Also remember to take your time and consider the conclusion of the event. If the animal walks away from your shot then it wasn’t meant to be. Always be your own hunter don’t weaken your ethics for someone else, even if they are older than you.
Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast.
Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.
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