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Of Elk and Family

Guest Author: Marty Hamel

My brother, Mike, and I went on our first DIY archery elk hunt in Colorado in September of 2009. It was an amazing experience and one that ignited a desire to continue to hunt elk in the mountains. Since that hunt, life happened, and things got busy. Both of us started families, bought houses and had career changes or advancements. We tried to plan a hunt nearly every year since our first hunt, but it just didn’t work out for one of us. Finally, after building preference points for seven years, the stars aligned, as we both were able to commit to applying for a fall hunt, and better yet, we even drew the tag. We were going elk hunting in Wyoming!

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We hunted hard, and one evening, about an hour before sunset, a nice bull stepped into a meadow we were waiting on the edge of. My brother, unbeknownst to me, had got his rangefinder out earlier and whispered to me that the bull was at 48 yards. I pictured the bone structure of the front shoulder and aimed just behind, knowing that I needed to tuck the arrow as close to the bone as possible. 

My nervousness and anxiety seemed to disappear, and I felt as if everything was in slow motion. I remember squeezing the trigger and watching the arrow fly inch by inch until it impacted the bull exactly where it needed to. It was a surreal moment. The bull turned, and I could see the arrow sticking out the other side. He ran about 30 yards to the edge of the meadow and fell down. He got up, then staggered back and forth before finally falling for the last time. 

At that point, I lost it. I began to shake uncontrollably as my brother shouted over and over again, “You got him!” I looked over at Mike, and he was shaking just as bad. It was a team effort, and it felt as if we shot that bull together. I think we were both a bit in shock, but we celebrated and exchanged high fives. We walked over to where the bull had gone down, and I was speechless. I grabbed the antlers, and the magnitude of what we had just accomplished set in. I was all smiles despite knowing that dark was setting in and we had a lot of work ahead of us. One thing is for certain: This hunt gave us the incentive to try and plan our next hunt sooner rather than later.

About the Author: Marty lives in Lincoln, NE and is a research professor at the University of Nebraska. He and his wife, Erin, have two girls, Amelia, 6, and June, 3, and like to spend time outdoors together as a family.

Gear List:

Bow: Hoyt CRX 35

Arrows: Carbon Express Mayhem DS

Broadheads: Slick Trick Magnum

Sight: Black Gold Ascent

Rest: Ripcord Code Red

Release: Scott Little Bitty Goose

Binoculars: Vortex Talon HD

Clothing: Sitka

Boots: Kenetrek Mountain Extreme

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