Every year I find myself longing to hunt out west. When I got the call from Ralph and Vicki about a New Mexico elk hunt with Top Notch Outfitters I was pumped. I would be joined by a fellow Posse member and respected hunter Damian Riffle. After a 10 hour drive to Missouri I picked him up in Amarillo and headed in to see Brian Newell and to hunt my dream animal. I have hunted elk for 15 years on and off, only to come up empty handed, thats why I call them my Unicorn!! On the 4th day of the hunt we were in the elk all morning but we ended up behind them. If you have ever tried to keep up with an 800 pound animal in the mountains, its impossible.. So we put the bulls to bed and came up with a plan for the evening.
That evening found us on a two track ranch road glassing a bowl where the elk had bedded up. Brian Newell decided to give out a couple cow calls even though it was still early. Right away off in the distance a bull answered us.. Brian said "it sounds like the small bull from this morning". A couple minutes later another bugle.. This one was closer! We paid no attention to it as it was "the smaller bull from this morning" .. Next thing we know that bull bugled 100 yds away on the ranch road just out of sight. Out of instinct we jumped up and got into position. As Damian and I were getting a spot cleared to stand he says " there he is".. I looked up and to my suprise he was not the "small one from this morning". As I watched him walk in bugling I thought there is no way this could be happening. he is just walking straight at us with nothing in between us. when he was about 40 yds I got an opportunity to draw and at 20yds he stops. Somehow I kept my cool long enough to squeeze of a perfect shot!! After only going 24yds he was on the ground! The hardest animal I have hunted to date was on the ground!!
Words can not describe what sense of accomplishment it was to finally have my unicorn on the ground.. As I reflect back now that it is over. I would not have changed the journey one bit. All the money spent, miles walked, blisters on my feet, and the sheer mental challenge of failure so many times.. That is what made it such of an accomplishment!! Don't ever give up.. The jouney is what it is all about!!
I would like to thank Ralph and Vicki for setting me up with Brian Newell of Top Notch outfitters in New Mexico and making my childhood dream come true!! Last but definitely not least Thank you Damian not for just being a cameraman but the friendship and sharing that experience with me.