Make the hunt happen – don’t pin all your hopes on luck of the draw

I got an invite to tag along on a buddy’s elk hunt next week and, naturally, I jumped at the chance, cranking out a lot of work at a feverish pace and scrapping any bowhunting plans of my own.

The great thing about this trip is that it doesn’t involve a plane flight or an exahusting cross-country drive. It’s right in Pennsylvania.

My longtime friend was one of the fortunate few to have drawn a coveted Pennsylvania elk tag, and while work duties prevent me from joining him on the opening day of the weeklong hunt, I will make a casual three-hour drive later that day and hunt with him for two days, hopefully shooting some quality video and photos of his hunt. I was present at the Pennsylvania Elk Expo last August when his name was drawn, and I about fell over when I heard his name. I scrambled to alert him immediately and share the good news, but was stymied by a lack of cell phone service at the Benezette, Pa., gathering. By the time I did connect, he had already heard. Oh well.

Gary had entered the drawing for many years and now, at age 67, his accumulated preference points tipped the odds – although still long – a little more in his favor. Drawing a Pennsylvania elk tag isn’t quite a Powerball or Mega Millions win, but for a hunter, it’s a pretty big deal.

But we really shouldn’t count on it happening, should we? It’s the longest of long shots, and many times – as happened with another friend who drew a Maine moose tag this year – by the time you do get lucky, your hunting career is winding down and you can’t go as hard as you did when you were younger.

That’s why Paula and I don’t put all our big-game eggs in that lottery basket. It’s well worth it for us to make some sacrifices and save the money and write the check and go on the hunt now, before it’s too late. Make the memories while you can, while your legs still allow you to hunt hard, and before something comes along that prevents you from doing what you love. You never know when your hunting time is up.

Paula still applies for the Pennsylvania and Kentucky elk lotteries and is always hopeful. But we also plan and save for hunts we know will happen, as it did just a couple months ago when Paula took a beautiful Newfoundland bull moose. Next year I’ll be up to bat in British Columbia, where I’ll test my physical and mental limits on a mountain goat hunt. And in 2020, we’ll be back in Newfoundland – our only decision yet to be made is who will be the gunner and who will shoot video. I’d like to see Paula take another bull; she wants me to be the shooter, probably because my video efforts are sadly lacking.

So dream of a big hunting or fishing trip. That’s fine. But also do whatever it takes to make those dreams come true.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, New York – Steve Piatt

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