May/June 2012 EBJ (Issue 71) - When I’m not in the woods, I work as a paramedic. A benefit of my job is it allows for me to stack my shifts so I can maximize my days off. Before our departure, I worked 144 hours straight (24-hour shifts). The last two days were particularly brutal and I had been running calls all night. But even they couldn’t deter my excitement.
That morning I drove five hours south to my father’s house, in the Bay Area, where we loaded the truck and continued toward Idaho. Along the way, we met up with a group of my father’s friends Pat, Steve, Al and The Chucks, who would be accompanying us to our hunting camp. Pat was the only one who had planned on hunting with us, the rest of the guys were planning to enjoy some fly-fishing. The first night we made it to Elko, Nevada. I was exhausted after 16 hours of driving, but I couldn’t sleep. I was too excited…like a kid on Christmas Eve. I sat up all night.
The next day we drove the remainder of the trip into Idaho and arrived at dusk. As we pulled into the canyon we had successfully hunted in the past, my heart sank. The canyon was covered with heavy machinery. We got out of our trucks and the sound of bulldozers and drilling rigs echoed through the canyon. According to Sid, a local friend of ours, a mining company was testing the aquifer for selenium, a byproduct of phosphorus mining in that area. He also mentioned that he hadn’t seen an animal in that canyon all season. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I wasn’t going to let that discourage me. There was still plenty of forest, and we had ten days to make something happen.
That night, we went back to the drawing board. I remembered spotting an interesting area on my topo map, and I figured it was at least worth a shot. Feeling confident with my new plan, I got my gear together and went to bed.
I awoke in a panic. The morning was light. I had slept in on the first day of the hunt. I was so disappointed in myself, embarrassed really, but after a few days of little-to-no sleep, I probably needed it. I quickly gathered everything and alarmed my father who had also overslept. I wanted to at least get to the ridge near us, glass, and study the area. By about 8:30, we made it into a position where we could see most of the surrounding country.
While we glassed, we heard bugling. It wasn’t close, but it was a lead. After about an hour, my father pointed to the head of a canyon. I turned my attention to it and noticed a thick patch of aspens. In the dead center was a small opening and something large was moving in the opening, but I wasn’t sure what.
For a full account of Michael's adventure, go to page 40 in the May/June 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.