As September approaches, my anticipation for one of my favorite parts of fall starts to rise until it takes over my thoughts. For the last few years and many years of my youth September was defined by a couple weeks at my Dad’s archery elk camp in Idaho. So many years and so many memories from the seasons past along with anticipation for the season ahead intertwine with each other to create a whirlwind of excitement. Thoughts of the new memories we will make and the potential tags that can get filled is almost too much to bear.
In my youth I would spend these weeks up there in the woods chasing elk with my dad and I knew it was special and I knew I was blessed but I had no way of understanding just how much. I am older now and I live many hours away from the old camp. I have three kiddos who are busy with school and activities and life. I have a husband and I am just plain busy. I no longer have weeks free of responsibilities to go and invest in the memories of a lifetime. Even though I cannot go for the whole trip I can and I do go for the weekends and they might not be as long as I wished they were but I cherish them and now fully realize how lucky I am to have them.
My Dad is a hardworking, God fearing, loyal and passionate person. He and my mom taught me all of the most important lessons in life and gave me the tools I needed to step out into the world with confidence and determination. I know every chance I get to spend time making memories with them doing the things that we love are so incredibly valuable and I won’t regret a single one of them. As a little girl I would climb up into my Dad’s lap come August 1st and we would start watching the old Primos Truth Big Bulls VHS tapes. K…I’m aging myself but that intro song would come on and Dad and I could not help but beam with excitement as the goosebumps ran up our arms as we listened to the signature bugle of a rutting bull blaring out of the TV. Will Primos would transfer some of his passion to us as we followed along on their adventures and it didn’t matter how many times we watched the same hunts over and over, we were still just as excited each and every time the show started. By the time opening morning of archery season finally dawned, we were in the elk woods chasing the distant bugles ourselves living out the dreams we had envisioned the month before. There is no other feeling like it.
This year I am blessed to have an Idaho whitetail tag in my pocket that allows me to take a buck with my bow if I see it or a wolf, bear or cougar as well. It is fun to be out there with a tag but the main reason I go is to spend time making the memories and trying to capture a small amount of the magic on camera. I film as much of our experiences as I can and then create a video of that season’s camp when the year is over. Every season we look back on the old videos from the seasons before and we relive the tears of a lost bull, we laugh at the antics of the joker in the group and we wonder in awe at the speed of the passing years and how many of them we have been lucky enough to spend out there together. Every year is different but in some strange way they are all the same. The woods don’t make life complicated, there in the simplicity and the stillness all things become equal and the cares of the world melt into the damp ferns at your feet to fully disappear until you are forced back into the craziness of reality.
It looks as if a tornado went through my house as the piles of camera gear, hunting clothes, archery equipment, packs and a plethora of odds and ends dot the floor and furniture as I attempt to make sure I don’t forget anything. It won’t be long and I’ll be throwing it all in my rig and counting down the miles until I lurch onto that gravel road and start reminiscing my way into camp. I’ll pass the spot where I remember a bear running into the bushes a few years back, the corner where I killed that grouse when I was just a kid, the old camp that used to be secluded before the logging company improved the area for a landing and each spot I pass will transport my mind into the peaceful state that exudes Idaho Elk Camp. There is a feeling there and a state of mind that you cannot help but embrace as soon as the dust settles and you take a seat around the campfire. The familiar voices and rehashed stories of days gone by lull you into the calmest parts of your mind and set the stage for yet another amazing season. September is almost here and it can’t come soon enough for me.