I grew up hunting elk with horses. In my opinion, that’s the best way to get the job done. You can pack a comfortable camp far back into the wilderness, then hunt on foot from there. If someone’s lucky enough to bring down one of the beasts, loading the carcass onto a pack horse is a whole lot more fun than humping it out on your back a quarter at a time.
But these days, the horses are relegated to more important duties than hunting. One is a kids’ horse who has earned a life of leisure, and I’m not sure she’d be able to get far into the backcountry, anyway. She’s roughly a hundred and twenty in horse years. The second is a hunter-jumper who hasn’t been ridden in more than a year, and I’m afraid he’d buck me off 10 miles back in the woods, then run and jump his way to Portland or Dallas or something. And the third is my wife’s barrel horse. I won’t even begin to tell you why that one’s not going to be going into the forest with me.
So that leaves me with one choice for elk hunting – shank’s mare. And after 10 years of working behind a desk, staring at a computer most of the day, I’ve managed to saddle myself with a bunch of extra weight that I now have to pack in and out of the woods. Granted, I leave a little bit of it out there, but I’d rather not pack it in at all. So for the last few hunting seasons, I’ve tried to whittle as much off my frame as I can before the hunt.
Luckily, I’ve found the secret to weight loss. Unfortunately, the secret is unpleasant. There’s no miracle pill, no fancy electronic girdle, no magic fad diet. The only thing that really works is eating less and working out in the gym more.
I’ve been hungry since mid-July, and I never knew a person could sweat this much. But after a lot of hard work, I think I’m ready for elk season. Bring it on!