After every hunting season, memories replay like a slide show in my head. Then comes the "woulda-coulda-shouldas," and I start yearning for the next season, half a year away.
Last season didn't start out much different than those that came before, and it seemed the cycle of hunting would roll on as sure as a train, as predictable as time itself. But early on, my season was derailed.
I came home to find someone had broken in, and that they'd grown one hunting bow richer for it. I'm not talking just any bow. It was a Diamond Iceman with a Trophy Taker rest and HHA Optimizer sight.
I was devastated. 2010, it seemed, would be a desolate blank spot in my hunting memory. No slideshow replays, no "woulda-coulda-shouldas."
But then came the kindness of near strangers. Mark Seacat – a man I was familiar with and had chatted with online, but had never spoken with in person - contacted me because he heard what had happened. He said he wanted to help me get my stuff back. Then, he put me in touch with the folks at BowTech and got me on the road to replacing my lost archery equipment.
My nerves were still pretty raw from the break-in, and with Mark's kindness, I was overcome with emotion. I was touched that he stuck his neck out for me, for no other reason than to help me get back in the field. I have since come to know that this is just his way, that he is as generous as he is talented.
Then, Michele Dawson and the rest of the BowTech Marketing crew essentially rolled out the red carpet and held nothing back. Thanks to them, HHA Sports, Scott Archery and Trophy Taker, soon I was stalking through the deer and elk woods with a brand new Destroyer 340, set up just like my old bow. I felt blessed, but I also felt like I owed it to these fine folks to do my best and make them proud.
My season started with a few days chasing monster muleys spot-and-stalk style in the "scab lands" not too far from home. The terrain was new to me, but I was definitely hooked. There's just something about seeing more deer in a day and a half than you would see in an entire season of "mountain hunting" – it really gets the adrenaline pumping. Still, I wasn't able to tag out.
For elk season, I set aside 9 days straight for the chase. We hunted up and down hills and across ridge tops, but again, to no avail. A few exciting close encounters, but I could never manage to connect on one.
Just after my elk hunt, I went out for fall turkey. I have been hunting turkeys for 5 years, and due to my aversion to hunting them with a shotgun, I've eaten Turkey Tag Soup every year. But this year, thanks to my new Destroyer, I was able to conclude a long, belly-crawling stalk with a 53-yard shot on a fine Tom, finally ending my turkey-less streak. Turkey meat sure tastes better than tag paper!
In the spring, I had the good fortune to visit NE Texas on a business trip, and the boss decided to take us on a hog hunt on the beautiful Estrella Ranch. I whacked my first feral hog: a large boar in the 250 lb. + range. I had never even seen a wild hog before, let alone killed one! It's pretty standard to hunt over bait when in Texas, but I got to take my hog from the ground, anchoring him with one shot from 30 yards.
When the season was over, I found myself wistful, replaying the slideshow of memories in my head. Then came the "woulda-coulda-shouldas." And after that began the yearning for the next season, still months away.
I owe my 2010 season to some very special people, and would like to formally thank those who made it possible:
-Mark Seacat who is very much a fine role model and ambassador for the hunting industry.
-The "Queen of Awesome" Michelle Dawson, and the rest of the BowTech family. They continue to lead the way in cutting-edge archery technology and run their business with a warm, family touch.
-Adam Hayden from Scott Archery.
-Chris Hamm from HHA Sports.
-Collette Morgan and the crew at Trophy Taker Rests.
-Jared "Elk Killer" Hanson from Cabela's in Post Falls, ID. I appreciate your generosity and taking the time to set my bow up right!
-All my friends and my wife for the support of my "outdoor sickness."
-My best friend Darin Staab, who is the best hunting partner a guy could have.
-My boss who not only has the same "sickness", but encourages my back country exploits (not to mention the fishing and hunting trips he takes me on!).
And last but not least, Thanks to the crew at Sitka Gear for making the best hunting and outdoor gear on the planet!