Thirty days, one shower. Sounds a bit gross when you think about it, but the adventures it lead to were well worth the stinky tipi sleepovers and countless casual disgusted faces made when smelling yourself after a long day of hunting.
The trip started in August at 350ft above sea level in Washington state. There I was heading out to climb into the Colorado mountains where the peaks exceed 13,000ft. I had never done a trip longer than 10 days before and my brain was going crazy trying to plan for 30 days. I wanted enough food and gear to survive for 40+ days just so I had extra options and I could share some of the delicious food I would be bringing with me. I finally convinced myself that I had enough food and gear and I was off to Colorado to chase mule deer in the highcountry with one of the best out there, Ryan Lampers.
The trip started out great from the start. Bachelor groups of big bucks in the very basin we decided to pitch our tipi. Life was good, very good. All that I had to do was wait for one of these mature bucks to put himself in a spot that allowed for a good stalk. Just like every hunting trip we go on, we realize that bowhunting mature mule deer isn’t easy. I made countless stalks that didn’t work out for a variety of reasons, until the very last day... There I was, 127 yards from “Old Man.” He was a crafty buck and almost never gave us an opportunity to stalk him, until that day. The last piece of advice that Ryan gave me was, move as slow as the small hand of a clock... RIDICULOUSLY slow! Four hours later I had slipped into 19 yards of Old Man and I was nocked and ready for him to stand up. Twenty minutes later he did just that and I came to full draw almost simultaneously. There he was quartered away, I picked my spot, and released... My arrow hit his last rib and instead of entering, it ricocheted and ran down the side of his body. All of the dreams and hard work, crashed down as I watched him walk away with a flesh wound instead of a vital hit. A bowhunters worst nightmare when everything you work so hard for doesn’t pan out how we plan. There are things we can control like how many Dark Chocolate Chilis we pack, and things we can’t control like what our arrow will do on impact. Unfortunately for myself, I had to leave empty handed and head north with a camera in hand.
The second adventure of my trip landed me back in Colorado with both the Phelps crew and Born and Raised Outdoors crew. The task at hand was capturing content for both of their upcoming projects. Chasing elk with Born and Raised outdoors, the Phelps crew and Dirk Durham... was this real life? The next 8 days allowed me to do just that and it was a trip that I will never forget. Unfortunately for them, I was now going on 2 weeks without a shower other than the occasional baby wipe “wipe down.” I won’t give away any spoilers on the details of this hunt, but this trip lead to more laughs on the mountains then most people can endure in a lifetime! Thank you both Jason Phelps and the men of Born and Raised for letting me share a camp with you guys!
My first shower. It’s strangely odd how once you pass the threshold of putting up with the smell of yourself, the shower doesn’t seem as needed or important. With that being said, it was the best thing for me as I made my trek closer to home to the Idaho woods to chase elk! The first part of my Idaho trip would be chasing elk with my good buddies Paul and Eric. This is a trip all about a yearly commitment to each other. Our friendship is great and there are no boundaries in camp between us, even if that means they sneak into my food tub and steal my Packaroons (I learned to hide them pretty quick).
This country was familiar to us, and our hopes were higher than ever coming into this hunt. I had just spent 8 days with some of the best elk hunters the west has to offer, and there were some new tricks up my sleeve that I was ready to put to the test. The woods were quiet, VERY quiet. The mountains again were there to humble us all for another hunt. We worked hard searching for any fresh sign of elk and it wasn’t until day 4 that we came across just that. The wind seemed solid, we could smell elk nearby and “prime time” was quickly approaching as the sun went down. Eric and Paul were in position to shoot and film as I dropped back to see if we could call in a nearby bull. I started slow into my sequence and a few minutes in I had cows talking back to me. It’s the rut in Idaho and with cows nearby, we knew there had to be a bull with them. I slowly painted the picture for this bull that some of his cows had worked down to our area and wanted to introduce some sounds of a bull to see if that would get him going. All I did was rake a tree for a couple minutes then listened to the woods, still nothing. It was time to amp it up a little bit more.. I let off a bugle, there he was. He was finally worked up and coming in! We heard the crashing as he came flying down the mountain walking past Eric and Paul broadside, a beautiful 6 point. Eric drew back, let his arrow fly, and the arrow was a clean miss. Again that same heartbreak from my first trip in Colorado set in.
Bowhunting is never easy and I think that is why I’m so drawn to it. You put yourself into a world where you have to be at the very top of your game using every sense God has given you, and even then you may not come home with a filled tag. One thing I have learned over the past few years is that a filled tag isn’t what constitutes a successful hunt, but a filled heart does. Hunt where and what makes you happy, and regardless of the outcome you will come home a better person. I can’t thank the Heather’s Choice team enough for coming along during my 30 days of adventure in many different forms. It’s because of people and companies like you that are making a GIANT push in the hunting world for us to push our limits in the mountains to see what we are truly capable of!