By Calvin Crawford – CC’s Staff
0/3. Not a statistic I can say I am overly proud of; however true. Sunday I returned from my third archery elk hunt in the last 4 years with an empty cooler and a quiver full of arrows. My dad, brother, friend and I were equipped with 3 elk tags, and we could not get the stars to align for any of us. Adversity doesn’t even begin to describe this trip. The area we had planned on hunting had a forest fire that burned 4-5 square miles just 6 weeks prior to our arrival. Immediately we had to find a new area to hunt. This was followed by record rainfall and 80-degree temperatures for the first 4 days of the hunt. If you were 1,000 pounds with a fur coat would you be moving much in that heat? Needless to say, the elk were quiet and hidden deep in the timbered ravines of the Missouri River Breaks. We also counted a staggering 40 other groups of hunters in the area we were in; so if there was an elk out in the open, it may as well be a headline on CNN.
Now despite all these excuses we strapped on our boots every morning at 4:30 and headed into the belly of the beast. We had several opportunities within 100-150 yards and just couldn’t close the deal. Team frustration was high, and laughs became more and more scarce at base camp each night.
And on our last day if all of that wasn’t enough, how about some more rain and, yes, SNOW! Adverse weather conditions are an all too familiar situation that my dad has taught us to push right through like it’s sunny and 75. My wife sent me a very fitting message that morning that said “Good things happen when Crawford’s hunt in the rain!” That day we all had our closest encounters with elk in the rain and snow. My buddy had a great bull and a cow within range but just couldn’t get a shot off, and I had an opportunity to zip an arrow at a cow, missing cleanly just over her back.
As spirits were at an all-time low and we frustratingly pulled camp we were reminded of a story from my dad. When he started hunting out of state, he had 5 years of hunting in Colorado without EVER seeing an elk. You want to talk about frustrating? And here we are complaining about seeing 50-75 in just one trip. My dad has always treated every trip out hunting as a learning experience and a test of both passion and commitment. At age 62 he now has a room FULL of trophies and a head even more full of stories. It is so easy to look at a wall of trophies and say “wow, why can’t I have that?” But what those walls don’t show are the failures, frustrations and lessons that were learned to get to that point. It’s these stories that are best told, heard and received in camp after a long day in the field.
Back home now at the foothills of peak hunting season with so much fun yet to be had before we are buried in feet of snow, I can’t help but to think of my next chance at elk hunting. It’s what will push me to get exercise, eat healthy and become a better shot over the next year. We all have goals or accomplishments that push us through each day and give us a theoretical “finish line” to someday achieve. For me it is archery elk hunting, and someday I’m sure that will change (hopefully lol). Set goals and bust your tail to achieve them; and if you don’t, try again. After all, “life without goals is like a ship without a rudder.” -Thomas Carlyle
Post Author: Calvin Crawford
My wife’s name is Ashley – we just bought our first house in August – We have a golden retriever named TRIP – My 4 seasons are Hunting, Snow Skiing, Water Skiing, and preparing for those 3