It’s been a while since I failed to punch a tag, but as I sit in my office and pen this blog I’m reminded of how humbling bowhunting can be. Lord, how I love it! However, I also have that “makes me sick to my stomach” sort of feeling. When it comes to success in the bowhunting woods, I’m black and white. I succeed, or I fail. On this hunt, I failed. That doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything, didn’t enjoy myself, or didn’t have any fun. I did learn. I did enjoy the pursuit. And, other than the sight of my laminated blue carcass tag still resting in my wallet and not attached to the meat of bull elk, it was one of the most enjoyable hunts of my career. Why? Simple — we didn’t quit. We kept pressing each and every day. We crawled out of our one-man tents well before the break of day and didn’t return until the sun had traded places with the stars. We adjusted our tactics to intercept a “silent” bull, but in the end it just didn’t work out. I knew that this early-season elk venture was going to be challenging, but I don’t think I fully embraced just how difficult it was going to be. Did I mention that it rained … a lot?

On our last evening, we packed a pair of Millennium stands into a distant wallow, hung them in near silence, and waited for a bull to approach. The good news was that a pair of bulls did approach the wallow. The bad news, however, was that the duo stopped in the timber about 100 yards short of the mud bath and decided to conduct a light 10-minute sparing session. The walk back to camp that night was extra painful and extra heavy.

I’ve spent a few days since licking my wounds and preparing myself for my next bowhunting adventure — a New Mexico elk hunt with Gavilan Creek Outfitters. Having guided the same ranch for over 30 years, I’m excited to chase elk with owners Foster and Kathy Butt. In addition, I’m also pumped to put my Mathews Halon 6 bow to the test and trek across the rugged New Mexico terrain in my Browning Hell’s Canyon apparel. As for Colorado, I just may find a way to get back into the hills toward the end of season.

I will keep you posted on how this hunt in the Land Of Enchantment plays out. The rut should be kicking, and the bulls should be screaming!