I grew up in Colorado in the 1960s and ’70s with two younger brothers. My dad worked hard as a meat cutter, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. We spent a lot of time outdoors, and I was considered a “tomboy.” Times were tough for my parents, so when my brother got a slingshot and then a Daisy BB gun, it was a big deal! Let me tell you: I coveted that BB gun, and when I did have an opportunity to shoot it, I was a damn good shot!
Once every summer, my parents would plan a day trip to the Rocky Mountains. The night before the trip, we would fry chicken, make potato salad, pick out a huge watermelon, fill a jug of water, grab a blanket, some matches and our fishing poles. Oh, and the night crawlers we caught in the yard with flashlights. Then early the next morning, we’d pick up Mom’s young brother and head out. On the drive up, we’d sing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” and “American Pie.” We’d stop at a lake or a river to fish, eat a big lunch and take turns shooting my brother’s BB gun. I loved it!
In my 20s I met my husband Tom, and our dates consisted of motorcycle rides to the mountains, fishing and camping. Tom and his best friend, Tommy, would take me along on their fishing, camping and grouse-hunting adventures. They would go on big-game hunts, and I’d wish I was there.
Finally, at 26, I got my hunter-safety card and purchased a Remington 870 pump-action shotgun. Now I was able to join them on the bird hunt! Then I got my first rifle, a .30-06 on a Mauser action. Nothing fancy, just what I could afford. Ironically, that Christmas my parents “surprised” me with the Daisy BB gun I’d always wanted.
I went on my first big-game hunt in the flat tops of Colorado. The experience was unbelievable: getting up at 4:30 a.m., driving, then hiking through the dark timber just to find an ideal spot where I could lean up against a rock or stand near a tree.
There I was, being very, very quiet, shivering while the sun came up. I was moving ever so slowly to get that darn cramp out of my leg. My stomach was growling, the wind was in my face, my hands were frozen stiff and my nose was running. It sounds awful, but really, it was fascinatingly wonderful. I could smell the grass, bark and dirt. I could hear the squirrels and birds chirping, and see ants and bugs going about their daily business. Every little being was starting its day while I sat there and took it all in. I didn’t get an elk that year, but was blessed to hear and see a few of them.
The next year I got my first cow elk, and over the next 20 years I got two more cows, hunted for pheasants, ducks, geese and doves, and then finally killed my first 4x4 bull in 2011! Two years ago, I didn’t have the opportunity to join my husband in the hunt, but I was very proud when he got his second bull elk, a beautiful, huge 6x6. All three of the guys in his party got a bull.
The total experience of hunting, beginning with finding a spot, fixing the food, sharing time with family and friends, laughing and swapping stories at the bonfire, surviving the elements, and experiencing the sights and sounds of hiking through God’s beautiful country make it all-around wonderful. The adrenaline you feel when you finally get the animal you are hunting is incredibly awesome.
I am thankful for my love of the outdoors, for my family, and for Dad letting his little girl shoot a BB gun. I am blessed to have a husband who spends time with me on grand adventures, and also for living in a country where I am free and able to have guns and hunt. Most of all, I am grateful to God for providing it all!
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