This story is an excerpt from The American Hunting Podcast Episode 002 – For the full conversation and more click here
There’s a ton of public land out West. There’s way more out West than in the Midwest, and we stay with the do it yourself method, man. I’ve hunted bears twice in Idaho, and I’ve hunted elk once in New Mexico. I’ll tell you, my first story was the first time I went bear hunting in Montana and got hooked up with a guy online. And he I said, “Yeah, you can go out there.” He kind of talked us into it. So basically what we did is we got online. We got a plane that would fly us into the Bitterroot National Forest. We literally just drove our truck. No guides, no outfitters, no nothing. We drove to Missoula, Montana, and got on a plane. We hire a pilot that’s gotta plane and is coming out there. It’s not that big. A deal is like one hundred fifty, two hundred bucks a person. He flies us out to the bitterroot and there’s a big grass strip in the middle of the forest and he lands and he lets us out. And he says, I’ll see you in five days and off he goes. There is no lodge, There’s nothing. It’s just us and our gear and there’s a lot more that happened. But suffice it to say it was within 24 hours I was telling myself, “remember this feeling and never, ever come back here and do this again.” It was brutal. It was awful. I gotta bring this up. You’ve talked about, on several occasions how you think you were made to be on the TV show naked and afraid or Survivor. Were you second guessing that thought when you were out there? Probably, actually, I don’t even know if I remember those shows back then. It wasn’t that long ago, but it was to the point where my problem was I was following somebody else’s lead. That’s the problem when you do it yourself, that’s in the definition. Do it yourself, you know? So I was following somebody else’s lead, and we went on an ill advised hike in the middle of the night for probably 10 miles, And then I look at this guy who was leading. I was like, “Dude, where are we?” And he was like, “I think we passed where I wanted to turn.” He’d been there before. Okay, so we go through 36 hours of this, and I said, “All right, I’m going back to the grass strip.” That’s exactly what we did. Me and my partner went back to the grass strip. I got some water, bottled water out of the river. I took a shower, literally got in my tent, slept all night, got up, ate breakfast and got out. I said, Okay, we’re hunting bears. I’ve never hunted bears in my life. I’m going to watch the wind. It’s pretty hot. I’m going find water and we’re just going to sit there. And that day we killed a bear, not a big bear but it is the only bear I saw. So the only bear I saw came home with us, The point being, I’ve never been there. I trusted somebody else at first. Then I realized I know how to hunt. I know how to keep the wind in my favor and to just hike and walk and glass until you see what it is you’re looking for. So it ended successfully, but it was rough.
A couple years later, I was like, “I’m gonna go back and redo that trip on my own, on my terms” and got out there and as luck would have it was 90 that week all week, and the Bears just weren’t moving and it was equally difficult. But I was calling the shots, so I was okay with it. I can do that. I can fail on my own. The other times we went out to New Mexico and I say, Do it yourself. We signed up with an outfitter, we used the outfitter’s number, because when you apply for a tag in the state of New Mexico. Since you could use their number and practically guarantee yourself drawing a tag. It was me and two friends again. We got in the truck and we drove to New Mexico. This is nothing. Anybody can do it. We went to their campsite for the outfitter part. We paid our money to use their guide, their outfitter number. The other part was they would have a tent for us to stay in. That’s it. You know, And so we were out there, We went on public land and the three of us together, we bow hunted, and we agreed to go out together, So if we kill anything, we all share and everything. And, it’s kind of a same similar story. For three days being told to do or go over there. Finally, we said, now we know what to do and we stopped. We start making decisions on our own. We realized we needed to be at the top of a mountain in the morning, and so we couldn’t afford to wake up and take the ATVs and drive into all that stuff. So we went back to the tent, got our own sleeping bags, went back on the mountain and slept basically right at the base of this mountain, all on our own, right next to the trucks. We got up the next morning, scooted up the mountain, and sure enough, we were finally in front of this herd of elk. Now, again, I’ve never been and of one of the guys had. So he had a little bit more idea what to do and we had an elk come get run off of a rub by a bigger elk and this has all happened within a hundred yards And then a really good bull if I remember it was 320lbs. I mean, it was a good elk. He comes walking right down this trail right to us, and we were spread out a little bit, and I kind of noticed one of my friends is kind of caught with his bow at his side, And I thought, okay, I might have a shot here, and they all got to a point where I was like, “Okay, if he charges, I need to know where I’m diving because he’s walking right at me.” I had no shot and about that time our third friend stuck him from the side, and he just He came running at me about two steps, saw me and took off. And it was just It was a phenomenal experience, something I can’t wait to do again. But, you know, again, this isn’t about what I’ve done. This is about what? If you’re listening to my voice what you can do. Yeah, get in your truck. You know, that time we actually pulled an open trailer with our ATVs and two deep freezers and two generators with us just in hoping we’re going to get that dude out. And we did, and we packed, quartered him up, packed him up and put him in the freezer, turned the generators on and headed home.