I have been hunting since 1 was 12 years old. I have been lucky enough to get a couple of bucks, a bear and a Tom turkey over the years but my real goal was to be able to go on an elk hunt. This October, thanks to the Outdoor Adventure Foundation, I was able to go to North Dakota and hunt the animal of my dream. We drove up to Cedar Ridge Elk Ranch in Rhame, North Dakota and my journey began.
The eve before the first day of the hunt, we made a plan for the next day. 1 would check one last time to make sure my .270 rifle was lined up and ready to fire. Then, we would go out and try to find the elk and hope for the best. I got up the next morning and got all dressed up in my favorite hunting clothes, with the cool addition of a sweater and a blaze hat provided by Outdoor Adventure Foundation. After eating a delicious breakfast, we loaded up in the van and went to shoot my gun. Willard told me to aim at a rock in the hillside that was 200 yards away. I shot one shot and I was dead on the target and ready to find my elk.
We then drove around the beautiful land in search of the elk. Well, needless to say, the elk weren’t cooperating with us at first. Willard, my sister, my mom, and Willard’s daughter took the gator in search of the elk because the van couldn’t get to these areas. My dad, Mike from OAF, and I scoped the land from the van while they were looking for the elk wiLh the gator. It wasn’t more than ten minutes since they left, a group of seven bulls came into our view. Now, the adrenaline was pumping more than ever.
Once everyone was in place, we waited for the bulls to run up my way in order to get a shot at them. They did in fact run up my way and I got to see them for a split second before they ran right back down the hill and out of my zone of fire. After this, none of us knew if I would get a shot at them anymore because they were new aware that people were in their territory. When the elk ran down the hill, they went around a corner of the gumbo and were leaving. All of a sudden, we saw them stop and turn back to look. Good, maybe they would come back out and I would get a shot at one! A couple of seconds later, one of the big bulls walks light out into the open for me. I get my cross hairs in my scope, lined up on the Vitals of the bull as quick as I can. Willard didn’t tell me how far away the elk were from us. All that he told me was to aim for the upper 1/4 of the body. So, with that in mind, l put the crosshairs on the upper 1/4 of the body and took my first shot. The elk gave a little slouch after I took my first shot so I knew I had hit him. Then, just to make sure that it would go down without running away, I took two more shots. On the third shot, I hit him again, he lifted its front leg and started to fall to the ground. “Did I really just do this?” are the first thoughts that came into my head as the animal fell to the ground. Everyone started to cheer around me and it finally hit me at once. I had just shot the bull of a lifetime and achieved yet another one of my dreams.
I was so happy, I was just speechless. Then, to top off everything, Willard tells us that I not only shot a bull of a lifetime, I shot a hull of a lifetime from 294 yards away. We then got in the van and went down to see the beautiful animal that I had just shot. The body and the rack on this hull was just incredible. It was way more than I ever would have dreamed if. 011 the days to follow, there was not a day that l wasn’t happy. Just like all vacations though, this wonderful journey finally came to an end.
I am so very grateful for organizations like Outdoor Adventure Foundation that give me the opportunity to hunt the hull of my lifetime. It is truly a hunt of a lifetime and one that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. I would like to thank my neighbor John Elsinger, our contact from the Wisconsin Chapter, and Willard and Barb Swanke for making my dream come true.