During casual lunchtime conversation, a coworker recently posed two hypothetical hunting opportunities and asked which I would choose. The catch: it would be the last hunt I could ever go on.
Scenario one would be a free guided hunt with the guarantee of taking home the bull of a lifetime. The guide would set me up in a nice blind where I could look over a handful of trophy bulls at my leisure. My only duties would be to pull the trigger and drink hot coffee. The hunt would be done in an hour. The guide would quarter and pack the bull out and I would take home the new world record elk. Did I mention this hunt would be free?
Scenario two would be a do-it-yourself hunt deep in the backcountry. I would hike myself in for several days. There, I would labor to find and shoot a spindly 5x5 bull—let’s say he scores 230-inches. I would have to quarter and pack the bull out over exhausting terrain on my own.
Which would you choose?
My friend did not believe me when, with no hesitation, I told him I would pick scenario two. Why? It isn’t about the antlers.
Scenario one requires no test and no personal accomplishment. This hunt just results in a set of antlers achieved by someone else’s skill. I would not learn anything, grow in any way, or develop my respect for the wild. There would be no sense of accomplishment.
Scenario two calls for adventure, work ethic, heart, and sweat. I would have to fill my tag through skill. I would learn more about myself while pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I would respect the animal I pursued, cherish the meat, and be filled with valued memories whenever I looked at the spindly antlers the rest of my life.
Let me clarify, I love antlers as much as the next hunter. However, I want to harvest the savvy, old public land bull by skill and God’s blessing.
Nothing good comes easy.
- Jess Patrick