Have you thought about a trip out west for big game? Have you dreamed about what it might be like to ride horseback through the beautiful Rocky Mountains, while looking for deer or elk? Have you dreamed maybe of traveling to Canada for a moose, elk, bear or deer hunt? Have you wondered what it might be like to see the wild Alaskan bush?
Well, I have a little advice for those who have wondered those, or similar thoughts. JUST DO IT!! If you think you might enjoy it, my bet is that you will enjoy it. Too much $$ you say?? Well, cheap it ain't, but I can promise you that by a little careful planning and an open mind the price should be well worth the memories.
I'm not a wealthy man, by any stretch of the imagination, I can promise you that! I am able to afford dinner and the electric bill often enough to keep the wife smiling and not a heck of a lot more. I worked damn hard in my life though and at one point a few years ago I discussed with my wife spending some serious $$ on some hunts I felt I really wanted to persue.
She listened intently to my explanation and then kindly said that she was all for my traveling to new places for new game. Besides, she wanted something different hanging on our den walls besides all those darn deer heads! Well, hells bells, why I had I waited so darn long to ask?
I made plans then, at 51 yrs of age, to go on an outfitted hunt by horseback into an area where motor vehicles were not permitted with my best friend, Gary. We sent our deposits, sighted our rifles and headed out to Idaho, meeting in Denver and continuing on together from there.
I killed an average mule deer buck at 4 PM on the 7th and last day and we weren't back to the truck with the deer and horses until about 9 PM. The experience of shooting that deer, average as he might be, on that very steep hillside and then actually getting him back is a story that takes a good three drinks to finish.
Although Gary has not been able to accompany me again, I've made a couple other trips since that first. The next year (2006) I went to Alberta, Canada once again for a big mule deer. I passed up a very makeable shot at a nice buck a bit bigger than my first and saw no other shooters for the rest of the trip.
However, the stunning vistas of the northern Rockies there, the herds of wild horses I saw running those mountains and the other wildlife are memories I do have that will always be part of that trip. A couple of very nice Alberta residents, Doug and Terry as camp mates made the fact that my guide was not the most personable fella a moot point, completely. Spending a 12 hour day with him, when he muttered perhaps 10 words total was totally OK by me, with the excitement of the horses (very fine steeds) and the beautiful country I was enjoying.
I can tell you this much, sitting atop a 1800+ pound horse that was 1/2 Percheron and climbing those Alberta mountains was quite something and no words can explain that, I don't think.
I made another trip I'd dreamed of this past spring, at age 56. My good friend Al and I traveled to Alaska for a black bear hunt. We were outfitted, but did the entire hunt on our own, after being dropped at a spike camp in the foothills of the Alaska Range. Neither of us collected a bear, but the times we shared there in the wilderness we simply awesome. We have talked of returning again just as soon as we can possibly afford to.
Nope, as you can see, none of my "big" hunts produced any fantastic trophies. But I carry many Boone & Crockett memories with me from all three of those great hunts. I don't even need photos to remind me of those gale force winds encountered high atop an Alberta mountain top, one blustery day. I also still remember looking directly across to an adjacent peak and watching a herd of big horn shhep scramble away. I can still see those snow-capped mountains of Alaska that were our views 360* around ou 9X9' tent. And I feel the chill of the steady sleet that pelted us when we encountered it on day 4 of our Idaho hunt, after both Gary and I took our rain gear out of our packs that very morning.
These are only a few of the many wonderful memories these trips have gifted me with. Heck, I've not even touched on how wonderful a trip like this can be with a special friend accompanying you!
Do not wait until it's too late for you to consider it. Do it now! I promise you will never regret it. I'm not sure how many more years I'll be able to withstand these types of physical hunts, but I do hope to find that out!
The very average mule deer buck I shot on my first "big" trip
The view that we had upon opening the tent flap in Alaska