Quiet, Gramps,” whispers my 10-year-old granddaughter as we slowly walk a moss-covered trail in the mountains of Idaho. “I think I hear something.”
We stop, listen closely and hear the brush rustling. The noise gets louder as we quietly kneel just off the trail. “It’s getting closer,” I offer, press the safety switch to the fire position on my 7-millimeter magnum rifle and prepare for a shot.
Grunting, breaking branches, crunching rocks and horns clashing excite us as we make eye contact. “They’re fighting,” I whisper with excitement as Rory returns a grin. We continue to listen, experiencing an intimate moment of two bull elk displaying dominance in hope of leading the herd.
The noise quickly ends as loud, thunderous hoofs and crashing timber fades into the valley. Rising from our perch, I return the gun to the safe position and walk down the trail to examine the battle. The ground looks like it’s been plowed by a damaged disc. Rocks are overturned, branches broken and scat litters the ground. “That’s amazing,” my granddaughter giggles and I agree.
I have hunted since I was old enough to take hunter’s safety. I hunt not for the trophy but for the meat and the experience. Being outdoors, hiking, tracking game, researching the habits and traits of wild animals and processing the meat once harvested ground me. I seldom purchase processed or ranch-raised meat and try to eat only wild game at home. Full column. Cda Press