Along The Trail 9-15-16

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Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.

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I tend to procrastinate.

I have always been a last-second sort of person. In school it was home work and studying. At work: it’s projects and deadlines. It’s not that I’m lazy, I’ve just always worked better at last minute and under the pressure of getting something done.

When it comes to my hunting life, I’m the same way. It seems I always have big plans of getting all my treestands hung, shooting lanes cleared of brush and tree limbs, paths mowed and food plots planted. But, you know what they say about the best laid plans – things change and something always seems to get in the way and take priority over my outdoor pursuits and, as usual, I wind up getting my stands in at last minute.

I will admit that this season, I’ve done a better job in preparing for opening day, but I still haven’t gotten everything done that I’d planned. Regardless, I’m sure my bowhunting season will be fine with a few adjustments here and there as a result of being a procrastinator.

Waiting ’til the last minute isn’t always a bad thing, but for the most part, putting things off until tomorrow isn’t a good plan. Like I mentioned above, I’ve always tended to be that way. 18 years ago, I told myself that when I turned 30 years old, I’d go elk hunting out West. My outdoor dream has always been to take an elk with my recurve or longbow. Some people dream of traveling the world, some dream of wealth – I dream of being in the Rockies chasing a rutting bull elk, hearing his ear piercing bugle. In my dreams, I watch as my arrow buries behind his shoulder. I can almost see myself in the thin air, chest heaving after the shot and then standing over the magnificent bull.

But, it’s only been a dream.

Well, I’m fast approaching 48 years on this earth. My plan of hunting at 30 was put off until 35, then to 40 and, you get the picture. At age 45 I promised myself I’d go elk hunting before I’m too old. Chasing elk around the mountains isn’t a game for the faint of heart and to add age to the mix doesn’t make it any easier.

I’d finally decided that if I’m going to elk hunt, now is the time, no more putting off until tomorrow or five years from now.

Now, I have a working knowledge of how to hunt elk and a rough idea of when and where, but as a rookie to this kind of hunting, I really don’t know where to start.

This hunting trip won’t be like a hop, skip and a jump into my local whitetail woods. Western country might have millions of acres of public land and I’m familiar with zero of it: How will I do this?

Enter one of my best friends, Jerry.

Jerry is the kind of guy that just says “Let’s do this” and he does it. He’s hunted the southern part of the Colorado Rockies several times and he’s offered me an open invitation to hunt with his small group, but I’d always felt reluctant to do it. Breaking into a new group of hunters and their hunting spot is akin to fishing their pond or dating your buddy’s ex-girlfriend. Somethings you just ought not do – but my pal has always been open to me elk hunting with him and knew it’s a dream of mine.

So, the offer has been made and accepted and this time next year, I’ll be at 11,000 feet in elevation somewhere around the Rio Grande National Forest in southern Colorado with a longbow in my hand living out my wish. Over the next few months, I’ll get myself in physical condition for the mountains, rat hole away a few dollars, pick up some hunting, hiking and camping gear I’ll need and count the months and weeks until we head West.

No more procrastinating.

Can I afford to do this? Probably not, but the way I see it, I can’t afford not to do this.

I’d encourage any of you that have a dream to chase it and don’t wait for tomorrow.

-David Hewitt