Below me mules and horses move along a well beaten trail, packs laden with enough provisions and equipment for a small army burden their backs. Men wearing the latest Cabellas gear ride on the bomb proof dude horses at the rear of the procession, they have paid big money for the chance to kill a bull elk in my mountains. The guides and wranglers each lead a long string of animals under the late September sun. From my elevated position high above on this ridgeline they look like ants without the aid of my binoculars. In all directions mountains, valleys and high meadows grace this magnificent landscape. Cloud shadows move across the land turning light to shadow as they race toward the north . A red tailed hawk soars below me on a thermal, the sunlight catching the red in his tail whenever he makes a turn.
In a small valley behind me a bull elk lays at the tree line with his harem of cows and calves . Early this morning he and I were twenty yards from one another, yet he still has no idea how close to death he was. If he would have turned downhill instead of uphill this morning my bow would have launched feathered death into his ribcage. The great spirit allowed for a great hunt but no killing this morning as I slipped from the area soon after the elk bedded down for the day.
I lay against the cool rocks along this windswept ridge. The sun , shadow, clouds and wilderness soothe me. My buckskin clothing and mindset have in effect taken me to another time and place, no worries of work to be done, no schedules to follow and no impending responsibility for the next weeks. For now I am only me, a man in the wilderness, a hunter and gatherer with a free spirit and a strong bow. I wonder aloud to my horses tied in the shade of a white pine, do those men riding below feel the spiritual connection to the wild places as I do. My only answer in the twitching of a tail at some sort of an insect and the turn of an ear in my direction. I laugh at my own attempt to try and verbally talk to nature, the natural world speaks to us constantly all we have to do is listen. Suddenly the ring of an elk bugle fills the valley behind me, I laugh once again . I guess sometimes nature does speak in a loud and proud voice for all to hear, I stand and lead the horses back toward the valley. The cry of a hawk carries to my ears, and I am suddenly covered in shadow as a cloud passes overhead. The elk voices his challenge once again as goose bumps cover my flesh and that sudden awareness of having experienced something spiritual engulfs me. Hawk a/ho