I know you are going to hate to hear this,” I say to my orthopedic surgeon, “but we are going to have to postpone my hip surgery.” He is clearly unhappy to hear this, but it really doesn’t make a difference at this point; the decision has been made.
You see, I am a hunter. There isn’t really anything I love more than the thrill of the hunt. Each year for 23 years, I have applied for elk tags and finally this year I, along with my hunting partner, Stanley Fox, won the Utah lottery for a Wasach Range hunt. There was simply no way I was going to miss this hunt. The surgery would have to wait.
Both Stanley and I are in our 70s, and this would be a challenging hunt in steep terrain at 9,000 feet of elevation. I scheduled more time with my exercise trainer in the hope of being ready for it. We arrived the day before the hunt and met with the guides to lay out a plan. As we began the hour-long trek in the dark to the hunting area, I was grateful for having put in the extra training.
Throughout the day, we heard elk bugling, and two hours before dark one had moved within 400 yards of us, chasing cows in a meadow. By the time we got within range though, it was too close to dark to shoot. Two hours uphill and we were exhausted by the time we got to our camp. Day two was essentially a repeat of the first day, and Stanley and I were so tired we began to have doubts about whether we would be successful.
On the third day, we rode in the truck through the meadows of the national forest to try to locate a large bull elk. It was fairly warm and not much was moving. We covered the entire length of road with no success.
Day four, the last day of the hunt, we headed back to the same area we hunted the first day. We had just made it into the correct area around daybreak when we heard multiple bull elk bugling. Finally, we spotted a massive bull, but it was a long shot, 435 yards. It would be the longest shot I had ever made in my over 30 years of hunting. The lead guide Trent encouraged me, and the other guide, also Trent, braced up against me to help me steady myself. Precision was key.
The encouragement helped. I made the shot. I was elated. It took several hours to clean and transport the animal back to the camp, all the while enjoying the camaraderie of a successful hunt. There were a lot of reasons that I could have come up with to not go on this trip. However, throughout my life there has been a resonant chord: the willingness to find within myself the resolve to do whatever is necessary to create the memory of a lifetime. Whatever your passion, always find a way to make it happen. You will be happy in the long run that you did.