Photographer and co-hunter: Chad Owen, Brighton
My uncle Cary invited me to hunt the fourth elk season in 2007. I bought my either-sex tag from the leftover list for units 18 and 181. Having moved from Hawaii via San Diego I had never hunted, but was an avid saltwater fisherman.
My brother Chad, a Colorado resident also hunting for the first time, joined me. We had no idea what we were doing. For four days we drove his loud diesel F250 over every passable road in both units. It’s funny how a novice hunter thinks that big game just hangs out by the road, waiting for you to shoot it.
On the fifth and last day we drove to a clear cut south of the Never Summer Wilderness and southwest of the Granby entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.
About a half hour after sunrise we stopped for a break. I looked up and a bull elk was crossing the clearing 200 yards away.
I pulled my first shot and thought I missed (I hit him on the fourth rib into his stomach). The bull kept walking and went behind a large pile of logs. I used the opportunity to go prone over a fallen tree. When the bull popped his neck out from behind the logs I made another 200-yard shot and dropped him at the point of impact.
I don’t drive around looking for elk anymore and have learned to study maps, migration patterns and habitat, which brought me another freezer full of meat last year. Sometimes, however, beginner’s luck can bring the best of rewards.
Thanks to my uncle for introducing me to hunting. I still love saltwater fishing, but I am hooked on hunting for life.