By Jason Reid
The orange glow of coals warmed the grates which held evenly dispersed elk meat. Smoke rising from the fire, my father cut a small slice from the round steaks for the both of us. Inside were friends and family waiting for us to finish grilling the assortment of meats. But we stopped to enjoy the fruits of our labor together as a father son hunting duo. We had spent a week in each others company 40 miles off pavement. We grew closer, pushed each other, shared in the victory and misery of elk hunting, which means in no specific order. Fatigue, desolation of an elk-less landscape, sore legs, sore feet, homesickness, and at last, victory. The meat, a bit crispy on the outside, grate lines capturing the charcoal flavor complimented the warm, red cooked meat which was as sweet smelling as ever. Under the night sky illuminated by the dull hue of the porch light and smell of the surrounding pines, I took a moment to reflect on the life of the animal, the hunt, the mountains which tested our mettle and now own a part of my heart. I reflected on the final ascent up the side of a steep ridge from the bottom of a canyon to the top where fate bound the meeting of hunter and prey with an arrow. Well, twice really killing bulls on the first and last day of our hunt. Although we killed my bull on the first morning of the hunt, I’d been hunting him in my mind since the day I’d left the mountains six years earlier. School, work, life in general seemed in hindsight like stepping stones to make another run at hunting the wilderness.