Montana, 2009, DIY, Public Access
To think that I am sitting down to write an article for Eastmans’ Hunting Journal is still quite bewildering to me, as I’m not quite sure how I ended up at this place in my life. Growing up in the small town of Augusta, Montana, along the Rocky Mountain Front, some would think that it would be commonplace to grow up in a family that hunted and enjoyed all the aspects of hunting. On the contrary, I grew up in a family that had a family ranch along the Sun River (plentiful with both whitetail and mule deer) but were not hunters. Our ranch extended west and had leased land that bordered the Sun River Game Preserve, yet hunting was not of any interest to my family.
Fast-forward ten years to when I met my husband, an avid hunter and outdoor enthusiast. Although he tried to have his love for hunting rub off on me, it wasn’t until the last few years that I gained any interest, and it wasn’t until October 2009 that I learned why hunting is often described as “unforgettable,” “remarkable,” “life-changing” and more.
After drawing an amazing tag and waiting patiently on the phone for hours to get reservations onto ranches in that area, I was excited for the day to come when I could begin my hunt. Although I have never been a part of scouting, visiting with local ranchers in the area, and glassing at the break of dawn and late into the evening, I quickly learned that if I wanted to be a hunter and improve my odds, I would need to take part in the entire experience. My husband, Dave, had to keep reminding himself that this was somewhat foreign to me and I had to remind myself to go outside of my comfort zone. Early mornings and cold evenings scouting, being turned away by landowners and learning to take denial with a smile was not easy nor was it in my comfort zone, being a professional career woman. However, I later learned all the preparation would begin to lead to what would hopefully be a successful hunt.
The scene on November 12, 2009 was somewhat glum; the wind howled through the night, blowing off any chance of fresh snow for tracking. Before daylight I got up earlier than Dave, with him thinking I was excited to get going but in truth thinking I can only be pushed so far out of my comfort zone - my hair got done, makeup and jewelry on and fashionable gloves and hat. I was certain I would get a bull elk opening day and I wanted the picture to be good. I know to all the true hunters reading this article this must sound absurd, but I figured I’ve done my homework, I have a wonderful partner in my husband, Dave, we know there are elk in there, so I will fill my tag, take a memorable picture and be done! Voilà!
After seven miles of walking in crunchy snow where elk could hear anyone coming from a mile away, having the wind shift constantly, and only seeing cows and calves, I quickly realized I really was out of my element. Dave, however, was very much in his. We took the time to survey the situation, took a different route to account for shifting winds, took time to “shoot the breeze” with other hunters because “that’s what you do”, and stopped every once in a while to appreciate the true reason for being out there in the first place - to enjoy God’s beauty, to enjoy friendly moments with others and to spend quality time together. I realized that day that it wasn’t about the hunt at all - it was about camaraderie, friendships, love of the land, crunchy snow and all, and the thrill of even having the chance to see such a magnificent animal run across the plains and into the timber. It was no longer about vanity and no longer about what was comfortable and what wasn’t. In just one day I began to move closer to being able to call myself a hunter.
For a full account of Adell's adventure, go to page 44 in the August/September 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.