For Christmas, we took my friend’s 83-year-old grandfather hunting for his private land cow elk. Each year we think that it may be his last hunt because of his age and of course his health. This year was no different, but we succeeded in getting him out to hunt again. That experience was a gift for us.
“Christmas morning the thermometer reads -18 degrees. We headed out to search for elk for grandpa. We saw a spotted a small heard over a ridge. After a very short uphill hike, and a whole lot of huffing and puffing and stops to catch his breath, we got grandpa into position so he could get a shot. Unfortunately, his shot missed its mark. The hike was a lot for him. He just was not able to catch his breath to get steadied enough. We had worn him out. He was pretty upset at his miss and quietly walked back down the hill to the pick-up. We headed home for Christmas dinner and put him under the electric blanket to rest.
Saturday morning, we were up early and convinced grandpa to head out again. That morning we were trying a new location to hunt for that cow elk. When we arrived, it was -23 degrees! Grandpa was sore from the previous day. He told us he was worn out, and he didn’t think he could do another hike like yesterday. We told him we would get him to a location that would be a little easier. We located some cows, but they were on the wrong side of the fence for that private land tag. Today the girls just were not co-operating. With the temperature being so cold, we could not set grandpa out to wait for them to come to the property, so we headed home. It was another unsuccessful day.
Our third and last day out, Sunday morning, we were up early and took grandpa for his “last chance” cow elk hunt. He would be leaving for home the next day, so we had to get him on a cow elk for sure. That morning the temperature warmed up a little for us. It was -12 when we left the house! We went to the same piece of property we had been hunting the past two days. The same heard was still near, but of course, they were still on the wrong side of the fence. We desperately needed to get a change of plans going. Grandpa was getting very discouraged, and he was beating himself up for missing the first morning and for not being able to get around as good as he once could. We decided to try another piece of land where the owner had told us he had spotted a heard.
We headed toward the north with the temperature a balmy 4 degrees! The problem at this property we were heading to would be that we would not be able just to walk grandpa a short way. All the meadows were way out there with rolling hills in between. We towed our snowmobiles behind the pick-up and headed to get grandpa another chance at a cow! Once we arrived at the property, we loaded grandpa on the back of the snowmobile and headed up the deep snow-covered valley. You really can not sneak up on the elk if you are on a snowmobile, so we had to try to get grandpa in as close as we could without spooking the animals away.
We rode up to the top of a small ridge and peered over. Sure enough, there was a small herd of cow elk! The excitement began. We unloaded grandpa, and he hiked down a little just to get him a straight shot. He sighted in on a nice cow. I saw him hesitate. He was worried about another miss. Then he took a deep breath. There was a shot and hit!!! Grandpa stood there, trembling with excitement. It was the GREATEST thing to see the smile on that man’s face! Hunts like grandpas are a lot of work but rewarding. Not only to him but to his guide!
Many of us take it for granted a lot of the hiking, hunting, and climbing we do. If we want to stalk an animal, we just do it. What a challenge to get grandpa close enough to that cow elk. 83 years old, successful and happy as can be! Closing on the first season of the year, always remember to be thankful for everything you have, health, happiness and the ability to hunt!
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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