Chaney… our daughter had her first real strenuous hunt this past week.
Up until now, her time afield has been limited to relatively short hunts on local exotics or small game. Her most adventurous hunt had been a bison taken in New Mexico a couple of years ago.
That ended with a respectable single shot from 125 yards on a standing bull with my 30.06.
This last week, we traveled to Colorado for an elk and mule deer hunt.
We knew going in, this was going to be tough.
At 9800 feet in elevation, our ability to physically perform as we do at sea level was going to be effected.
Add to that, the reality that we were going to be moving around quite a bit looking for the game as well as the cold weather… we knew we were going to be in for it.
(If you arrived here from our email continue reading here:)
She saw elk… actually, quite a lot of them… but there were no real chances to ethically take a bull.
This is important.
This thirteen year old girl had to exercise both patience as well as ethical judgment. All while enduring some grueling physical conditions.
On day four of our five day hunt, she saw an opportunity to take an excellent buck. The rub was that he was standing at 300 yards out… a distance she had never shot before.
She knelt, planted her elbow slightly ahead of her left knee and used an Aspen tree as a side mount to steady her rifle.
Placing the crosshairs of her scope on her new .270 rifle between the top of the buck’s shoulder and and the bottom of his spine (to compensate for bullet drop for the extended distance)… she touched off a round.
She hit him exactly where she had been aiming!
He ran about thirty yards before piling up in some bushes and bleeding out.
She was both thrilled and shocked at her ability to make the shot.
I was not.
She had been practicing with our AR rifles on our simulators for weeks focusing on steadiness and good trigger control.
She had also been practicing on non standard shooting positions… trying to mimic in our lab the types of shooting positions she might encounter in the field.
Shooting off of a bench at the range will show you your rifle is zeroed properly, but unless you are going to haul a bench around with you while hunting, it will not give you the same type of shooting practice you will need while afield.
Many of our law enforcement clients come into Artemis to practice their marksmanship (especially with their patrol rifles) prior to their qualification shoots. They all report enhanced scores and greater confidence. This training DOES translate into the real world.
Chaney is the first to testify to that.
But this trip also showed me something else… something that we as a society are deeply in need of.
This thirteen year old girl endured physical hardships, hours of solitude requiring enhanced mental acuity, and the ability to maintain the cognitive skills necessary to analyze a fluid situation and, on more than one occasion, the ability to decide not to shoot.
For four days she hiked, struggled, sat, tried to keep warm, tried to keep dry, tried to glass for game, tried to catch her breath, and ultimately basked in the glow of success… all without electricity, running water, her Iphone, Instagram or Facebook.
I cannot tell you for certain that she “grew” as a person during that hunt. I think she had already achieved her growth before we ever left for the long drive to Colorado.
What I do know is that she displayed an evidence of that growth during those four days on the mountain.
She now knows that her abilities have been expanded.
She knows how to read the animals, how to interact with them, and act not as an observer of nature, but as a participant.
She also knows that her operational range of shooting is now beyond the 100 yard sphere that until now was her comfort zone.
She also has a new love for her Savage 110 .270 rifle that she has now named “Four Point”.