Idaho, 2008, DIY, Public Land
Cut with deep basins overflowing with alder and waist-deep huckleberry brush, Idaho’s mountain peaks can humble any archery elk hunter. In 2007 and 2008 in these mountains, I was humbled by the heights and depths of my hunting experiences.
The first morning of my 2007 late season archery elk hunt arrived with a foot of fresh powder. At 11 a.m., I spotted a bull and started a four-hour stalk. My core trembled with excitement as I crawled through the powder, closing in to 50 yards on the big 6x6. The cold muscles in my back and arms worked slowly as they reluctantly remembered their position at full draw. My trigger finger instinctively contracted, sending an arrow on a path to the hunted.
The sound of my arrow shattering as it struck the snow-covered rocks beneath the bull was devastating. Hours of preseason practice were now mere fragments in the snow. My thoughts mirrored that of the confused bull as he tried to understand what had just happened.
Seconds later the bull again stood broadside 50 yards away as I cleared my mind and focused. However, the draw, aim, release, and arch of my second effort was no different than my first. Descending in the night, guided by the glow of my headlamp, the pulls of cold water from my hydration bag could not wash the sour taste from my mouth.
The experiences of my 2007 archery season were still replaying in my mind on Christmas Day as I opened a gift. It was a book I had asked for, Idaho’s Greatest Elk, by Ryan Hatfield. After opening the book, I read a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that encouraged me to try harder on the next hunt.
For a full account of Matt's adventure, go to page 34 in the November/December 2009 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.