Tuesday, November 5, 2013

First Deer

First Deer
by Ami Sprague

On December 14th,  2013. I had the opportunity to guide my friend Charity and experience her joy as she harvested her first deer.
Charity has been getting a deer tag for the last few years but has not had the opportunity to actually get a chance at a deer. She began her interest in hunting not by her father, boyfriend or brother, she started this journey on her own. After getting all of her supplies, she now had the challenge of finding land to hunt. 

Last year she was allowed access to a small parcel of land which she had a stand put up but she never had the chance to go. She hadn't ever climbed into a tree stand before and needed a little guidance to feel safe.  So another year went by with no deer.

This year I decided to host a "doe camp" for all of my female friends during the opening weekend of  Indiana Muzzleloader season. I thought it would be neat to have to girls hunting while all of our husbands either helped guide or stayed back and held down the fort.
I invited several gals who have been hunting before as well as friends whom have had an interest but never the opportunity. Two weeks before our "doe camp" we all gathered to sight in, and become familiar with shooting a muzzleloader. Even some of the experienced hunters in the camp where not familiar with using a muzzleloader as they have harvested their deer with either a bow or shotgun.
On the Friday before our hunt, we all gathered at my house to assign blinds and guides.  Opening Saturday went by with several missed opportunities and only 1 doe harvested but the girls didn't give up.  On Sunday we were successful with 4 more does harvested.  I wanted to make sure that each of the girls who had bought an out-of-state tag were going home with some meat for the freezer.  By the end of the weekend all were successful but Charity. 
I told Charity that just because the "doe camp" had come to an end, were were still going to be persistent at harvesting her deer. That Monday morning Charity came back and we sat in a ground blind but the morning passed without seeing a single deer.  Thankfully that didn't discourage her.  She was able to come back on Thursday morning December 14th.  The morning started with me getting a text stating that her alarm didn't go off and she was worried that we wouldn't be able to go.  I told her to come anyway and we will sneak into a ground blind that sits on a field edge close to my house. 
As we arrived at the blind it was now daylight, luckily we were able to sneak in unnoticed, The ground was still covered in a heavy frost as we got all settled in and set up.  After about 1/2 hour we saw a few deer moving on a hillside just inside the woods about 80 yards to the left of us but there was no clear shot.  Having hunted this area for years, I knew it would just a matter of time before they gathered in the field about 100 yards in front of us where my husband had put in a small food plot.  Sure enough, about another 10 minutes had passed by before there were 3 does standing in the food plot.  Charity then raised her gun and set her sights on the largest of the 3 does.  Unfortunately the does were just passing through and did not give Charity the opportunity at a shot.  As we watched them disappear up a logging road through the woods, I reassured her that there will be another opportunity.  
The area of the food plot was still covered in the frost at this time, I told her to be ready when the frost clears they will be back to feed.  As the sun rose higher in the sky, the frost then cleared on the food plot and sure enough we had a yearling come out to feed.  The next thing we know, we had 2 more does come into the food plot, one being a nice mature doe which I ranged at 163 yards.  As they started to filter in, Charity took aim at looking through her scope while I watched through binoculars.  I then told her to keep steady and I taught her something my dad had taught me "BRASS" breathe, relax, aim, steady, squeeze.  I told her that when she had an opportunity at the doe standing broadside that she could take the shot whenever she felt comfortable.  The next thing I knew I was trying to keep watch through a thick cloud of smoke!
After her shot we were both so excited that we only sat there for about 30 seconds before we were out of the blind looking for a blood trail.  As we approached the area where the doe was standing she started to get nervous because there was no blood (I knew she had a good shot by the way the deer reacted and also knew that it could be several yards before we would even see any blood).  I then walked over to a small point of woods that divided the field and saw the doe lying on the small hillside (It only ran about 20 yards before dying and there was no blood other than a few feet before the deer.)  As Charity approached and saw her deer lying there she said "I did it"!  After several high fives and about 50 pictures later, our hearts were still racing. 



I did not carry a gun the weekend of the doe camp nor while I was sitting with Charity but experiencing someones first deer harvest was just as exciting as if I were hunting myself. I felt so privileged to be a part of something that she, nor I,  will ever forget.   I got the funniest text from her later that day, it read....
    Charity:  I still cant believe I killed a deer this morning.  I was beginning to think I was  just meant to donate to the DNR...lol  Thanks so much for taking me.
    Me:  No problem!! I had just as much fun as you, I'm still smiling!!
    Charity: I'm still asking myself..."did that just happen?" lol.
All in all, 6 ladies harvested does.  For 2 of them it was their first harvest ever and for 3 others it was their first muzzleloader harvest.  It was definitely a weekend and week I will never forget and was proud to be a part of. 
Ami Sprague is a Pro Staff Member of Shoot Like A Girl. You can find out more information about Ami in the Pro Staff Section at www.ShootLikeAGirl.com


Friday, October 25, 2013

Shoot Like A Girl Expands to Firearms Test Shots and launches as Featured Exibitor at the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Cowboy FanFest

Shoot Like A Girl Expands to Firearms Test Shots tm  And Launches as Featured Exhibitor at the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Cowboy Fan Fest

Shoot Like A Girl is proud to announce the debut of the revolutionary Firearms Test Shotstm  program at the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Cowboy FanFest in Las Vegas, Nevada December 5-14, 2013! The new Test Shots tm program introduces women to shooting firearms, and complements the proven success of Shoot Like A Girl Test Flightstm program, which has empowered over 3,700 women throughout the United States to shoot archery, growing the sport of archery.
Shoot Like A Girl's expansion utilizes a state of the art fifty two foot trailer where women can shoot pistols, rifles and bows in a safe controlled environment. It features a military grade firearms simulation system and an archery range. With the continued support of long term partners like Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Trijicon, and new corporate partners Charter Arms, Glock and Smith & Wesson, Shoot Like A Girl will continue to grow the number of women who participate in shooting sports. Creating safe responsible gun and bow owners, and advocates for the industry and hunting conservation efforts.
The National Finals Rodeo expects to bring over 400,000 rodeo fans to Las Vegas during the 10 day event. Shoot Like A Girl is proud to be part of the NFR Experience with the launch of there expansion to firearms at Cowboy FanFest!
Shoot Like A Girl (SLG2,Inc) is a company dedicated to growing the number of women in shooting sports by empowering them to participate with confidence. With the help of their corporate sponsors, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Hunter Safety System, Bear Archery, BowTech, Charter Arms, Danner, GamePlan Gear, Glock inc, Hoyt, Elite, Lumenok, Neet Archery Products, Mathews Inc., Mossy Oak, Prois, Smith and Wesson, Trijicon, Victory Archery, PSE and ASA; they travel around the country introducing women to shooting sports! For more information or to become a Shoot Like A Girl Corporate Partner, visit www.ShootLikeAGirl.com

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Lumen-Arrow by Lumenok

The Lumen - Arrow by Lumenok
by Amanda McGinnis
The Lumen - Arrow by Burt Coyote Lumenok is something that will from now on always be in my quiver. The arrows fly straight and true which combine for a comfortable, tight group. My favorite perk about the arrows is the visibility you get when shooting in low light. Whether you are hunting or just shooting in the yard, seeing your shot placement in low light has NEVER been easier. This is something that is very critical when out in the woods. You will never have to second guess your shot again with these arrows, the Lumenok shows it all for you. For more information or to order yours today go to http://www.lumenok.net/

Amanda McGinnis is a Shooting Staff member of Shoot Like A Girl. To find out more about Amanda please visit the Pro Staff at www.ShootLikeAGirl.com

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bill Pelligrino's Archery Hut to host "I Shoot For The Girls" Archery Tournament!

Bill Pelligrino's Archery Hut will host the I Shoot For The Girls archery tournament for the third year in a row!  October 20, 2013 at 10:00 am!  It costs $20 to shoot, with 100% of the proceeds going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation!  

So for, Shoot Like A Girl has raised over $27,000 the past three years for NBCF!

Please join the fun, and shoot this tournament at Pelligrino's Archery Hut -6325 E. Platte Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80915 Phone:(719) 638-0554

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How To Preserve Your Trophy

How To Preserve Your Trophy
By Michelle Webb

By now you’ve probably bought a couple of the latest gadgets, filled feeders, planted food plots, hung stands, cleared shooting lanes, made sure all of your stuff was scent-free in anticipation of finally getting a chance at ‘the big one.’ You’ve gone over and over your lists and you are sure you have overlooked nothing before opening day, or have you?

What happens when you finally do have all your hard work come to fruition? You’re so excited you want to show the world. You take tons of pictures to preserve the moment and drive all around town sharing your excitement. Usually the first question you are asked is, “Are you going to have that mounted?” In most instances the answer is yes or something really close to that. Although many of us are taught how to prepare our game when we learn to hunt, rarely are we taught how to first preserve our trophy for a taxidermist so that they can capture the memory of the hunt forever.

It is a good idea to add checking into a taxidermist to your to-do list. You can either visit someone’s shop to see their work or ask someone you know for good references. You can also contact a taxidermist to come up with a plan ahead of time for when you do make your harvest. This way they can give you specifics on how you need to preserve it.

The following are some pretty basic ways of prepping your deer or other large game animals for a shoulder mount. First wipe off all blood and other fluids off the hair or fur. Bacteria is NOT your friend and anything you can do ahead to preserve your animal’s hide is paramount. Next you want to make an incision around the belly (see photo). It is fine to go ahead and field dress your game, but do NOT cut up into the brisket area.  You will make your incision all the way around the belly of the animal a couple of inches behind the front legs. Always cut from the inside or the skin side and not the hair side. Now cut the hide around both front elbows. You don’t have to worry about cutting from the inside here, this is just to ensure that you have plenty of hide for your mount. Better to have too much than not enough! Next, cut from the underside of the elbow straight down to the belly incision. Carefully skin your specimen working the skin down around to the head. Try to be careful and not make any unnecessary holes. Skin all the way up to the base of the skull and then cut the neck leaving about 4 inches of the neck behind the skull. This allows for better measurements and making your animal true to what it was.

Now for those of you who want to cape out your own game, there are some further instructions for you. Instead of stopping at the base of the skull, you will continue skinning until you are at the base of the ears. You want to cut the ear butts as close to the skull as possible. Sometimes it is necessary to flip the hide back over just to check where you are before making that cut. Once you have confirmed you are in the right place, cut the ear butts loose from the skull. With the ear butts now loose it will be easier for you to now make your Y-incision. Being very mindful of your fingers, use your knife to puncture the hide from the inside or skin side of the center of the back of the neck between the ears. Now that you have your cut started you can finish from the outside or hair side. Holding the hide taut and using your knife, cut the skin side down about 3-4 inches from your initial puncture. Now still with your knife cutting from the inside take your incision up to the middle of the back of each antler bur. Now comes the tricky part, cutting around the burs. Most people have a tendency to put their knife on the outside and just go to cutting. This results in loss of hair and a natural look to your mount. Take your knife and with it inside next to the bur, rock it gently cutting up towards the bur releasing the hide. This is thicker than just normal skin tissue. Just be careful and go slow. Once you have released one bur, move to the next in the same fashion. Once both burs have been released you can now finish skinning out the head. Skin the rest of the head out cutting as close to the skull as possible. Whether you skinned your animal up to the neck or decided to cape it out, when you are done fold the hide skin to skin, roll it up and place it in 2 sealed bags. This helps prevent freezer burn which can greatly damage a hide.  If you chose to cape out your animal, next you will need to cut off the antlers (see picture).

If you happen to want smaller game such as a bobcat, coyote, raccoon, etc. for a nice display piece then your care will be relatively the same. You will want to wipe any blood or fluids from the hair or fur. You will NOT make any incisions. These specimens will be kept whole and taken to your taxidermist. Cool the animal as soon as possible without getting it wet. Place your animal and tuck the legs and tail inside if you can. Double bag.

If you happen to be a bird hunter, here are some tips for you. Again, wipe any blood or fluids from the feathers in the direction of the feathers.  Let the body cool down. Tuck the head underneath a wing.  Stick it in an old stocking (pantyhose) with the end tied off head first. After you get it in, tie off the other end. Double bag.

Finally for all the fisherman/women, whether you have caught a fish of a lifetime or a young’un has caught their first and wants to preserve the moment, nothing is too big or too small. To prepare your fish you need to wet a towel and wrap your fish whole. Double bag. Of course an alternative for all you catch and release conservationists, there is the option of having your catch preserved in a different method. The new trend in conservation is having a fiberglass replica made to reflect your catch. If this is your preferred method then after the catch but before the release, you need to take a couple of pictures and get measurements. For your replica to be exact you will need a weight and you need to measure the length and the girth of the fish. This is the information that your taxidermist will need. Please do this quickly and try not to handle the fish to much to ensure that it will thrive once again after the release.

Whatever your prize memory that you want preserved is, make sure the body has cooled down and  after double bagging, immediately put your game in your freezer or take it to your taxidermist. If along the way you accidentally made a cut where you shouldn’t have, broke a tine off an antler or something just wasn’t quite right, your taxidermist may be able to take care of it for you. Someone once taught me that “almost anything can be fixed.” But the sportsman or woman needs to realize that their taxidermist is only as good as the sportsman who takes care of his game. Remember always make sure your games is legal and properly tagged.

Taxidermy is much more than just an old deer head hanging on the wall. With all the latest methods mounts are becoming more and more realistic and you can even add a little habit scene fitting for your surroundings or with your preferred game to make it even more realistic. Taxidermy has become quite an art form. Good luck this hunting season and go make some memories in the field.

Michelle Webb is Taxidermist and Shooting Staff Member at Shoot Like A Girl. You can read more about Michelle in the Pro Staff section of our website at WWW.ShootLikeAGirl.com 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

High Desert Archery will host a "I SHOOT FOR THE GIRLS" tournament

High Desert Archery will host a
"I SHOOT FOR THE GIRLS" archery tournament at 1836 W. Amador Road Suite B, Las Cruces, NM 88005

                                                        October 16th at 6:00 pm
                                                 100% of the proceeds go to the          
                                                    National Breast Cancer Foundation! 

Tuscarora Archers to Host "I SHOOT FOR THE GIRLS" Tournament

Tuscarora Archers will host a "I SHOOT FOR THE GIRLS" archery tournament at 5608 Etzler Road, Frederick, MD 21705 

October 12th at 10:00am and 
October 13th at 1:00pm.  

100% of the proceeds go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation! 
For information call 301-695-5316

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Great Colorado Adventure, 2013

Raychel Shaw - Shoot Like A Girl Pro Staff
Recently my family and my best friend and I had the opportunity to adventure to Colorado with the goal of harvesting an elk in our sites.  This trip turned out to be so much more than just a hunting trip.  I was actually apprehensive and nervous about going because we seemed to be so alone, I kept using the term “winging it” since we were doing a “do it yourself”(DIY) hunt on public land.  Just over halfway there from Texas my fears were strengthened as our truck broke down in Santa RosaNew Mexico.  My hubby, quick to diagnose the problem and realize he had the replacement part at home in Texas, sprung into action and got us safely into the neatest little RV park  while his dad drove the part up to get us back on the road. That next morning was a rough one as all 3 of our kids woke up throwing up and now, with Shaun’s dad, the 4 of us weren’t feeling much better….carbon monoxide poisoning from the propane refrigerator vent! Had we been able to get on up into the mountains we might have mistaken this for altitude sickness and cut our trip short! We were not really actually alone because God says He’ll never leave us or forsake us and as God would have it, the manager of the park was a certified diesel mechanic who looked over Shaun’s shoulder and provided the confirmation Shaun needed during the fix.  Only God does stuff like that! So the next day we were back on the road before lunch! I was soooo nervous!

 I don’t really know what my expectations were for how it should look there but as we got closer to Colorado the beauty of New Mexico began to amaze me and I was itching to get out and explore. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better we hit Durango,Colorado. The most beautiful little town with the Animas river winding and snaking all through it. It was about 7:00pm as we started winding up into the mountains just north of Delores towards our camp and as we came around the bend, mountain on the left side river on the right we were facing the largest mountain I’d ever personally seen who’s slope was covered in the most beautiful Aspen grove.  As the sun shone down piercing in spots through the low lying clouds that were clinging to the canopy of the Aspen grove my breath caught in my chest and tears moistened my eyes.  I’m a military brat so I’ve been A LOT of places and I had never before seen landscape so beautiful that it made me want to cry. Reliving it as I’m writing now brings tears to my eyes.  We reached a flat pasture like area near the top of the mountain where it was time to get out and set up camp.  When I say pasture you think grass but no, this pasture was carpeted by the thickest most glorious squishy healthy fern! A sticker-less fern pasture as large as a football field! To my 3 children’s delight if you took a shovel to it every scoop of earth yielded the fattest healthiest fishing worms….or “I dare you to eat that worms”!  I digress!  We set up camp and cooked dinner that night and began to get butterflies about seeing elk and exploring the splendor of this new country we were calling home for a week.
The next morning we awoke and dressed in our hunting gear, packs and bows, and safety orange kissed the kids goodbye and wished my bestie Shelly good luck with them and set out!  My hubby and I were in such awe as we began hiking I’m not sure if we even looked for elk for the first little bit of the hike. I seemed to be too busy catching flies with my mouth gaped open at all the newness and glory like I’d never seen before!  Part of that was a little breathlessness too but not too bad.  We started training as best we could back in April for this adventure we knew we were gong to embark on in Aug/ Sept so 23lbs lighter and in the best shape of my life I knew I could handle quite a bit. We didn’t see anything but a couple of coyotes and some turkey vultures that day but the next day, OH the next day!
Noticing that the part of the mountain we were hunting had trails that were open to motorized vehicles we opted to go down our little mountain and over to the next one which had a trail winding up it that was not open for motorized transportation and we were walking so no worries there!  We figured less traffic and noise might mean more animals, we figured correctly!  Nearly to the top of this 5mile consistent incline trek I saw my very first grouse! Guess who happened to have a small game license and knew that grouse season had just opened! ME! After I’d harvested her my hubby just stood in amazement at my confidence.  He was shocked that I had taken the shot but incredibly glad for it!  Onward and upward though!  As we reached the top and broke over the ridge we descended into a large valley between the peaks of 3 mountains with a decent sized lake on one end teaming with ducks! My breath caught again…for both of the before mentioned reasons!  We hiked across and over onto the next mountain and stopped for breakfast just the two of us, him propped up against a tree eating a pop tart and me with my head laid on his leg in an Aspen grove at nearly 9000 ft elevation with the morning sun filtering through the leaves and painting yellow rays all the way to the ground.
We set out after our little breakfast break again and it was then just 100 yards later that we beheld the most amazing site and one we had come so far to see.  As we hiked partly up the ridge and around, just below us were 5 elk. A cow and calf , a single cow and 2 small bulls grazing among the aspens. With our eyes as big as saucers and breath we didn’t know we were holding we crept closer and closer.  I snaked the range finder off my neck and slowly passed it to Shaun as I stared on in amazement at the biggest game animals I’d ever seen in the wild.  The closest elk, a smaller bull, stood at 62.5 yards quartered away in the “v” of two aspens with gnarly bushes in between.  As my husband began to draw back his bow I softly whispered “do you want to try to get a little closer and get a cleaner shot?”   He let it down concerned because it really was a trashy shot. As we began to creep closer we took exactly 4 steps when out of NO WHERE a doe mule deer jumped up just to the left of us and ran into the group of elk screaming in her language “RUN RUN THERE’S HUNTERS UP HERE!!!” and off they went!  As we followed them over the ridge we ran into another hunting party who were all on mules and in pursuit of the elk they had just seen run over the ridge.. On foot there was no way we could compete with them so we decided to hike over to the other peak and see if we could pick up another group of elk.
As we hiked around the rest of the day stopping for breaks and snacks and sometimes just to gawk and the sheer splendor of the country we were exploring our souls just hummed with praise for God and His ability to create.  It was getting late though by this time and we headed back for the valley and over to the adjacent mountain with the trail to lead us down.  I literally collapsed in camp when we finally returned so grateful to smell that my bestie was fixing dumplings! It had been a 15 mile day through some rough terrain and most of it had been at a huge incline with a 30lb pack. It was more than I’d ever pushed myself before and I was tired but feeling a HUGE sense of accomplishment.  Just seeing elk on a DIY was a success in mine and Shaun’s eyes!
The next morning we rested and spent time with the kiddos and that evening we decided to go back up and give it one more shot.  We packed up sleeping bags and food and a little two-man tent and decided to camp the night out there just the two of us at 8900 feet in bear country. How exhilarating! No marriage retreat on the face of this earth could facilitate the kind of bonding experience we had on the hunt.  We didn’t see any more elk but saw at least 40 mule deer which we had no tags for and were also not speaking to due to the previous ruined elk harvest because of one of their kind!  Waking up that high in the sky that morning the pink of the horizon as the sun began to wake and rise over the peaks to begin burning off the clouds that had nestled themselves among the tops of the aspens we knew this was not just going to be a one time trip.  This was a hunt, an adventure that had caused us to leave a piece of ourselves there and embrace a new one that would summon us back year after year.  I actually did leave a piece of my leg on a barbed wire fence up there but that’s not what I’m talking about!  If you’ve never experienced this before and you are given the opportunity you should seriously hit the door running!  This adventure changed our whole family’s lives.  We learned so much about ourselves and what we were capable of. We learned just how much we enjoy the outdoors and how we have instilled that in our kids so much so that they were totally in agreement of turning off the satellite and redirecting the money we were spending on television to a hunting trip fund so we can continue to experience the splendor of God’s country.  For us it’s not just about the harvest its about the experience!
 Raychel Shaw is an instructor with Shoot Like A Girl. Learn more about the pro staff at Shoot Like A Girl.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Hunting Experience with RMEF's Team Elk

Seriously, we walked across shale beds!
Have you ever been in a situation, and suddenly thought, “What am I doing here?” I had that thought recently, when I was in the middle of a very steep shale bed on the East Butte Mountain in Montana. The thought was quickly answered with excitement, “I’m hunting elk with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Team Elk!” For the flat-landers, like me, a shale bed is like a big pile of landscape rocks, picture a dump load truck of gravel, but giant sized and then side hilling across it. I’m proud to say, that I crossed many of these shale beds and had sense of accomplishment that has stayed with me since this experience.

In hunting circles, I suppose it sounds cliché to talk about the “experience of hunting”, but in reality the experience is the common thread in every hunting scenario that is shared by all of us, and the dominate factor that can motivate a non-hunter to hunt. I had the opportunity to go on this hunt because of the partnership we have with RMEF and Shoot Like a Girl, which I founded. RMEF shares our dedication to growing the number of women in shooting sports by empowering them to participate with confidence. We hope that our experience of three girls hunting together in Montana will inspire more women to get out there and give hunting a try!
Cristy Crawford, Kristy Titus, Karen Butler
It was (like totally) awesome to hunt with Kristy Titus, from Team Elk and Cristy Crawford, our Shoot Like A Girl’s Operations Officer and Corporate Sponsorship Manager. We were guided by Jim Brennan and Steve Lund. In the interviews, I got such joy when Jim was talking about the fact that he wasn’t sure how three girls would do on a hunt (this was a new experience for him too), but he said we held our own! That’s a great compliment from such an experienced guide.

Steve and Jim are excellent guides, but I think on the first day they put us gals to the test; and for the record, we passed and it was an amazing sense of accomplishment for us. The test included (what seemed like) a straight ascent up the mountain, to cross shale beds, thread ourselves through thick timber, side hill a ridge and follow a creek bed. It was a workout, but the view was amazing. We didn’t see much wildlife that day, but the great thing about hunting, is the next day is always more promising than the last! The days all ran together, but it was a week of firsts, I had never heard a bull bugle, and when I did, it was amazing! It is a sound like no other that I’ve heard, it drifts through the air, and then disappears. It is tricky up in the mountains to figure out which direction it is coming from when they are far away; when they are close it is easy.
Yep, when they are close it is easy. As I said, our guides were excellent, and Jim and Steve scouted some elk on a ridge, and it was game on. We quickly climbed up the backside of the adjacent ridge (we did not want to skyline ourselves), and dropped down in the timber toward the ridge we had seen the elk on! This was absolutely exhilarating. It is like the feeling you get, when a roller coaster is climbing up a steep peek and you know that the drop is about to happen, thrilling and maybe a little nerve racking! Now for elk hunters, you may want to take note, all the articles you read that tell you how to call in a big bull, well they work, because Jim set us up “text book”. He checked the wind, and placed me about 30 yards from Kristy Titus, who was calling for me. Let me tell you, this gal is the real deal. Kristy is a genuine ambassador for hunting, who shares the love, passion and knowledge she has for hunting with everyone! After we were all set up, Kristy let out a cow call…and there it was, the bull bugled back! At this point, my heart starts pounding in my head, but I think, “be calm”. Then, I see him. It is amazing how quiet these enormous animals move, we were in some fairly thick timber, but until I saw the movement, I had no idea this big guy was in there with us. He is on a string right to Kristy; she lets out a cow estrus call, and there it was, 20 yards away from me, and all I can see is his mouth tilted upwards, with a loud bugle singing out through the trees. I may have said some expletives at this point, because I was in awe! Jim said , “draw your bow”, I started to draw, but then the elk looked straight at us. Jim said, “freeze”, which I did, with my bow in front of me at pre-draw. Can I just say, “ouch”..that few minutes or maybe even seconds, of total adrenalin and holding my bow without moving was tough. Then he took a step, I started to draw, but he stopped and looked at me again; there I was in the middle of my draw, holding the full 55 lbs of my bow, and I froze once again. Now, this is really more of “OUCH”. I later learned I should have just pulled back, but as a rookie elk hunter, these things will happen, and hopefully, I learned my lesson. He finally stopped in an open lane, but unfortunately, I did not get a kill shot. I did however, get an experience of a lifetime.