I hope this weeks blog finds you having a great start to your week. I’m fresh off an epic experience in the mountains and wanted to share some fresh energy with you!
Each year I like to plan a trip that puts me into positions where I have no choice but to push my perceived limitations and come home a better person. That’s a 2 part goal by the way… 1) push my limits to become better & 2) come home.
Carrying a whole elk worth of meat from miles deep in the wilderness with nothing more than a backpack sounded like a perfect fit...
This year’s 10 day adventure drew me into the remote wilderness of southwestern Colorado. The plan was to buy a readily available $800 hunting license & bull elk tag (the easy part), beat the odds (roughly 85 out of 100 hunters return home with empty coolers), beat myself (do what I think I probably can’t), and have a couple hundred pounds of some of the most wild and pure meat on the planet to nourish my family over the course of the next year. So, now, you may be thinking... "wait, you have the best bison, elk, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, rabbit, lamb, etc. at your fingertips already so why would you do spend so much time, energy, and resources on a hunt like this?!" And you’d be absolutely right. It’s not cheaper and it’s certainly not easier but in addition to the food aspect mentioned earlier, it’s all about the challenge, the adventure, and re-centering myself. Sort of like why people choose to risk their life trying to summit Everest but with an added element of possibly putting a lot of amazing food in the freezer.
Needless to say at this point, hunts like this are not average. And even though most hunters that embark on these types of adventures are above average in terms of physical fitness, commitment, and mental toughness, few actually summit (or pack out meat in this case). A couple of the main reasons for failure are inclement weather or getting pummeled by the treacherous terrain. As one friend put it; “There are only two directions out there, up and down.” Mix in a little snow, rain, wind, slop, sunburn, altitude sickness, sore muscles, blisters, dehydration, ghost-like elk, bear precautions, loneliness, dehydrated food, filtering water, cold sleepless nights laying on rocky, frozen ground, getting up well before daylight to slip back into frozen pants and boots and it’s easy to see how one’s perspective by day 4 or 5 turns from getting an elk to simply being grateful for a survival story and the modern basics of home. However, if one can compartmentalize the discomfort, stay focused, and press on long enough, you will experience more potent emotions, more intimate connections, more of yourself, as well as sights, sounds, and situations most don’t even know exist. Words fail to convey one's true experience. Photos make a valid attempt but are still merely one dimensional.
Without going into details here that may bore you, I’ll just say I was blessed to be apart of the small group of hunters who had the grueling joy of packing meat off the mountain on my back. I found a small herd of elk about 6 miles deep in a steep, secluded little pocket and was able to make a quick, clean harvest of a mature, legal bull from the group. Over the course of the next day and a half, I executed relentlessly on the responsibility I now had square on my shoulders of preserving 225+ lbs of elk meat and antler over 36.4 round trip miles in 4 trips over the next day and a half. When you're walking for hours on end, you have a lot of time to think, and often, you must to take your mind off the muddy trail, crushing weight, and sore muscles. One of my thought patterns wandered to think of the 300+ million other people bustling about that aren’t even aware of this chore I found myself in the middle of that used to be as common as a hair cut not more than 200 years ago. I longed for people to know what it feels like to have so much intimacy with their food and the world it inhabits. As I pondered this sense of longing, my fire for providing this quality of food for others was deeply rekindled. My “North Star” here at Northstar has been to use this wilderness experience as our model for the types and quality of the products we raise and sell. The sweat dripping off the brim of my hat and aching body helped to clarify my purpose in that vision once again.
God bless and enjoy the mere photos and captions of my recent adventure.