I wrote an article a week or so ago pondering some of my thoughts about an upcoming elk hunt. Now that I’ve actually went on that hunt I thought I would follow up with where I’m at today looking back at the comments I made.
At the time I was feeling the necessity to kill an elk on the trip to make it worthwhile. That need was to fulfill several gaps including the financial investment I had in the trip as well as the time away from my family. While both of those are sacrifices that my family and I had to incur in order for me to do this, I don’t think that killing an animal recovers those loses. It does indeed bring invaluable meat into my home to sustain our healthy lifestyle but likely I could have purchased an equal amount of quality meat for what I had in the trip. Also, time away from wife and kids cannot be replaced by anything. So with that in mind simply bringing meat home does not make the trip worthwhile.
What I believe I found out that did make the trip a valuable transaction is my renewed outlook on life. I wasn’t struggling with my personal situations or unhappy but I was feeling alot of pressures. Those pressures come in the way of various stressors that we all likely face. Living one step at a time for a week really shines a completely different light on ones reflection of themselves. There were times on the mountain I was genuinely concerned about my personal well being. I put myself in a few sticky situations and came out stronger (and smarter). I mentioned living one step at at time, I mean that literally. Several of my climbs to hunting perches required me to mentally focus on taking that one step. That one step to get me higher in elevation. My next task was to focus on a subsequent step to move a little closer to my goal. Then another, and another…eventually I was where I wanted to be. Sounds pretty relevant, huh?
My improved attitude came from targeting the things that really are of value. When I got back home I knew what mattered to me. It’s my family, faith, and connection with nature. I am now refreshed and ready to be the person I should to be. I’m not a new man so to speak and it wasn’t some huge intervention I had while lost in the wilderness. It’s more that I’m back on track to making improvements each day I am here. Those improvements will likely be small in nature and perhaps nobody, including myself, will even notice but they will be there. I am truly happy for that.
To venture from the philosophical aspect, there was extreme value in the friendships I continued to strengthen while on the hunt. I am very fortunate to surround myself with some fantastic hunting partners who help make me better. It can simply be from support, pushing me beyond my comfort zone, or making me laugh. All of those things are healthy and beneficial to ones life. For that, I am thankful.
Oh, then there is the thing of quality meat. While I didn’t personally get a shot opportunity there were two elk killed in our camp. We split meat equally between hunting partners so even though I didn’t pull the trigger, I still get to reap the benefits of a week of hard hunting. Again, I am so very fortunate that my family and I will be blessed with some excellent table fair.
To summarize, I didn’t kill an elk on my trip. I was served a big bowl of tag soup but for some reason it tastes OK. I know I hunted hard everyday so got my money’s worth in that perspective and nothing is guaranteed anyway. My family greeted me with hugs and kisses upon my return home which almost made being away from them worth it. I’m a stronger person for overcoming challenges I was presented with and my bond with my friends was further solidified. I was able to spend some isolated time in the mountains and really reflect on aspects of my life and life in general. Lastly, due to the nature and generosity of my campmates I’m eating elk. Having said all that, the hunt was indeed successful, even without squeezing the trigger.