When I was growing up if you were to tell me I would
be spending every September up in the mountains hunting for elk, I would have
called you crazy. But that is exactly where my life has taken me. I grew up in
a small town in Eastern Colorado. My Dad was a
school teacher and my Mom stayed at home raising me and my brothers and
sisters. I was one of 11, and was number 5 in the pecking order. When I was 12
my family moved over to Western Colorado.
People here joke about living on the other side of the mountain, but that range
of mountains that divide the Eastern part of the state from the Western part of
the state is truly that, a divider. Life
in this small town was much more laid back than the city life I was raised in.
Growing up I had never seen a deer, let alone something as majestic as an elk. But
that was before I met my husband.
Steve Byers and I were married in 1992, and I have spent a
decade being a widow to his passion of hunting. It wasn?t rare for him to drive
up with a turkey, a buck, or some other critter in the back of his truck. It
was something that, being a city girl, I wasn?t too thrilled about. After
seeing how happy it made him, I was more than willing to watch him enjoy it, as
long as I was on the sidelines. That didn?t change until Steve came home from
work one day so excited he couldn?t hardly stand it. He told me a friend of his
had an old Browning bow that was set up perfect for me. All we needed were new
strings and cables. Yippee, I thought. Now I will have to go hunting.
This wasn?t something I was ever prepared to do. Hunting for
Steve is a way of life, he was born to hunt. I was born to shop. Steve was
determined. He needed a good hunting buddy, and I think he thought I was just
the guy. He thought I would be perfect.
Never mind that I hated camping, the great outdoors, and the way I looked in
camo. These weren?t the reasons that finally made me go hunting. It was the
love that I had for that dang Browning bow. I started shooting at the start of
the summer, and throughout the summer I became pretty good. I was even ?lucky?
enough, as Steve would say, to get a Robin Hood. I was shooting darts with that
bow. This always makes shooting a hoot. I enjoyed out shooting Steve, his Dad
and even some of Steve?s friends the rest of the summer.
Beauty enjoys the beauty of nature
Fall was just around the corner and Steve asked me if I was
ready to go hunting with my bow. I decided from spending time shooting with him
that this would give the two of us a great opportunity to spend some time
together. I was right. Being up in the high country of Colorado in the fall is one of the most
beautiful places to be. I had a mixture of feelings the first time I went.
Complete awe, and feeling cheated for not letting myself do this sooner. I had
no expectations other than to be up there with my husband and soak it all in.
It was truly breathtaking. The color of the aspens in bright hues of orange and
yellow, the smell of the pines, and yes, hearing the bugling of a bull. It
doesn?t get any better. I couldn?t get enough. But Steve and I have 3 children
who were pretty little at the time. My time
in the woods was limited, but I got spoiled early.
Steve and I are blessed to have a great place to hunt, and I
got to see my fill of both deer and elk. Being away from the kids was hard on
me, so Steve and I decided I would take my first chance at an elk. Like most
hunters, you never forget the first animal you take. This was no exception. It
was an evening hunt, and Steve and I took off from the truck. We had walked a
long ways and I was getting tired. We stopped to rest for a minute and I saw a
doe. I pointed her out to Steve and he picked up his binoculars and told me it
was a calf elk, not a doe. He let me see it through his glasses. Sure enough! I
was so excited.
Steve told me where there are calves, there are cows, and
where there are cows, there are bulls. So we slipped up to the calf keeping it
in constant view. I wasn?t ready for what I would see or hear when we got
there. I turned to Steve, wide eyed, and told him it was the whole family! Mews
were traveling back and fourth between this family of elk and I was frozen. I
could not believe how incredible this was, and they had no idea we were there,
they were in their element. It was awesome.
Cassie, camo clad, bow in hand with first trophy
We watched and listened for close to an hour. Then Steve
whispered to me that I need to decide if I wanted to take a shot. It didn?t
take me long to decide. I was ready! From all of my practice I was very
confident in my shooting ability. I found a big lead cow, stepped out into
position, and settled in for my shot. Everything felt perfect. The cow was
feeding completely broadside. It was like I was shooting at a target in my yard
down in the valley. As the shot broke, I followed the arrow and watched it hit
home. My cow ran down a small hill and died instantly. Wow! This was amazing!
Steve ran over and gave me a great big bear hug. He was so proud of me. I had
heart shot my cow at 25 yards. In an instant, Steve?s passion became our
passion! There is nothing like it. So this is hunting. I love it. Almost as
much as shopping!