I just got back from the my first hunting trip. Though the freezer did not get filled with new stock of elk, I wanted to share what I experienced because it was much different then I expected….not to say I really knew what to expect. We went to Dan’s second favorite unit (term for areas they get their license in)….here we are in this big field….no one was there but the cattle. You see, Colorado is a “free range” state so cattle roam around anywhere they want. I’ll post some pictures later, but I wanted to share what I felt going through this experience after I explain Dan’s routine a bit.
Opening day was two days out so the first day was setting up the camp, including the infamous barrel stove. The second day was spent just enjoying the weather, taking walks, enjoying quiet conversation, especially as my cute husband does his jokes around the barrel stove each night…my one man entertainment show…lol. The next day was opening day so we were up at the break of dawn and on the trail by 7am. We were dressed in our orange vests, orange head gear to stay warm, and orange backpacks…did I mention orange is NOT my color but regulations are to be followed for safety reasons….so I’m stuck with orange. We headed up the mountain about another 1000 feet higher than we already were at our camp, taking about one and a half hours to climb to the spot. Once we got to the area we would stay, we unloaded our backpacks and set up our area.  Just as I scanned with the binoculars we spotted three mule deer bucks with amazing racks. It wasn’t what we were licensed to hunt but seeing such beautiful animals just does something to me. They move with grace and style that says God knew what he was doing. I was able to get one picture, not of the biggest one….but at least I got one. It was a majestic moment….both of us experiencing our own thoughts and appreciation for the animal. We watched in excitement and awe. This is the routine you do every morning at dawn, take a break mid-day and then hike up again in the afternoon until dark.
But what I experienced had nothing to do with hunting. What I felt was the new morning with air as crisp and clean as a new baby’s breath. It reminded me of those early Spring mornings in Washington when you leave for work and roll the windows down to enjoy the new air…..taking a couple extra minutes when you park at work to walk in the early air, listening to the birds welcome the new season. In the mountains the smells, sounds and sights heightened my senses with a passion to push through every step it took to get to the top. The quiet defines your moments with God to a new understanding. It was so quiet that as the birds flew overhead you could hear the movement of their wings in the air…..it is a beautiful swooshing sound I will remember forever. If you have ever fished, you understand the calm that embraces your mind as you sit and wait….watching, listening and taking in the sites given to us by God to enjoy. The hawks calling out to each other, the hummingbird that visits for quick seconds intrigued with the color orange. The honey bees so filled with nectar they can barely move. My eyes scanning the mountain side, taking in every movement of life as it woke up to embrace a new day, or put a close to their day as we spent the late afternoon posted in our spot. Hearing the coyotes and then spotting one come into the field we are watching….finding something that intrigues him for moments before running off again. When we hiked, we look for elk tracks, every word between us is a whisper, every movement mentally gaged to step as carefully and quietly as possible. On two occasions, Dan went on his own so he could work more treacherous areas. He would be gone for about four or five hours…..leaving me to keep the fire going and spend some “me time” to read, think or organize and clean our home away from home. Just the cattle and me in the quiet. You could hear the creek the cattle frequent or the occasional hawk, but I would look around the vastness and beauty and you are suddenly in peace. I love being alone so treasured these times with nature, but the smile that covered me as I see his orange vest coming over the hill made me feel at home again….the missing piece was back…my husband. Enjoying life in the mountains filled with amazing sites and sounds brings contentment to my soul but even more when it is shared with someone who appreciates it and loves it like I do. Who understands what God gave us, and who enjoys every moment with as much love and respect as we share with each other.