My Masters

By Charley Carlson
Colorado, DIY, Public Land

My Masters - Charley CarlsonSeptember/October 2013 EBJ (Issue 79) - On the second playoff hole, the golf ball shot through a narrow gap in the Georgia pines and hooked hard toward the 10th green of Augusta National. One putt later, Bubba Watson was only inches from winning the Masters, pro golf ’s most prestigious tournament. When the ball settled in the bottom of the cup Bubba dropped to the turf, covered his face with his hands and broke down.

The voice of my nine-year-old daughter Gabby broke my television trance. "I thought you said he won! Why is he crying?”

I tried my best to explain what Bubba had just accomplished. He had worked his whole life to obtain this goal, practicing thousands of hours and dreaming about that day for a thousand more. When you accomplish a goal that means so much, sometimes you can’t help but shed a few tears.

Many golfers dream of winning the Masters. My dream has nothing to do with tight fairways and fast greens. It has steep mountains and heavy packs, a bow in my hand and a bighorn ram.

For 20 years I applied for a sheep tag in nearly every western state. In Colorado I always put in for the best unit, but this year I changed my strategy. I was tired of sitting on the sidelines; I wanted to hunt sheep. I decided to put in for a unit with a bio that read "poor trophy quality,” "low harvest percentage,” and "one of the most physical units in the country.” Perfect, I thought.

When I got my Colorado sheep tag I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, but at the same time I had a knot in my stomach. I knew it would be the most difficult hunt of my life and I wanted to give myself every opportunity to succeed.

My training started the next day. Every other day throughout the summer I would take my dog and 75 pounds of salt on a hike up the steepest mountain I could find. I shot my backyard archery course nearly every evening. I also took advantage of a 3D course at a local ski resort that offered some of the most radical vertical shots you could imagine. By the end of the summer I was ready.

After a 10-hour drive, my hunting partner, Jayme Leyba, and I started our eight-hour hike to camp. When we arrived we were greeted by Josh and Jason, two good friends of mine. Jason had good news and bad news. Good news – they had spotted some rams; bad news – the terrain.

My Masters - Charley Carlson

For a full account of Charley's adventure, go to page 14 in the September/October 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.