Introducing the 7E Chronicles!
According to AZGFD, I'm going hunting this year! From now until my hunt this fall, I'll be posting regularly about the experiences from getting drawn for my first elk hunt (bull!!), to scouting and preparing, to the actual hunt. Tune in for every installment of the 7E Chronicles! Sponsored by Gaia GPS and Under Armour--featuring Ridge Reaper.
Somehow, some way, I managed to get drawn for a bull elk hunt this fall in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness Hunt Area. I've lived in Arizona for 13 years and have never even put in for a tag.
For one, coming from the east coast I was not used to the idea of public land hunting. Where I'm from everyone has farms or friends with farms and it's only the unlucky souls forced into the comparatively tiny public land. It took a long time to get over the public land stigma from back east and to get accustomed to the wide-open public spaces in Arizona to even become interested.
Even after getting over the idea of a public land hunt, I still never bothered to put in for a tag. My family has a farm in Virginia and I typically go back every fall for whitetail deer season. All my gear is there, I know the land, and I don't even have to buy a license. In Virginia, you can hunt on parents' and grandparents' property without a license. So it's as easy as hopping on a plane and walking out the backdoor into the woods (or, sometimes, running onto the back porch with a gun...).
A few years back I decided that I should start putting in for a hunt so I could at least start earning points. But inevitably I always forgot; even with people reminding me on Facebook and in text messages.
This year, though, I was lucky enough to have a hunter for a coworker. He came into my office on the deadline to ask if I had put in for elk. I jumped into action and bought my license, selected a few hunts, and submitted my application. The hunts I chose were in places I've hiked or camped before, so if on the off chance I actually got pulled the areas would be at least slightly familiar. But since the first hunt I chose suggested needing 20 points to get drawn, I wasn't holding my breath.
Cut to a week or so after the draw. The same co-worker came into my office to ask if I had gotten a tag. "I have no idea", I said. Then I asked "how would I know? Do they email you or something?" He told me that he just checked his credit card account on the day of the draw to see if he got charged for a tag, but that I could check online. I didn't bother to check while he was there because I knew I didn't get drawn.
After while, I finally popped into my AZGFD account and sure enough "You're going hunting this year!" "Cool," I thought, "I must have gotten drawn for one of the cow hunts I chose as backups." Nope...bull elk. In the Kachina Peaks Wilderness Hunt Area. Amazing. I was so excited I could barely speak. Within 20 minutes, all 60 people in the office heard the improbable story of me getting drawn. I started texting friends, several of whom wondered why I was just getting around to checking if I was hunting this year.
So starts my scramble to learn how to hunt elk, to adjust my loadout from stand-hunting whitetail to traversing the San Francisco Peaks, and to get in shape.
I'm looking forward to the hunt and sharing the journey to get there. Hope you enjoy the saga, and keep coming back.