[Editor’s Note: Gaspar Perricone is currently the Co-Director of the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to representing a complete sportsmen’s agenda . A native of Steamboat Springs, CO, Perricone has been a lifelong hunter and angler. His roots in farming, ranching, and outfitting led him to develop a strong respect for conservation and the protection of our outdoor heritage. After earning his degree in Political Science at the University of Utah on an athletic scholarship, Perricone returned to Colorado to focus on public lands policy. In 2007, he founded Outdoor Heritage Consulting, a group dedicated to advancing sportsmen’s interests throughout Colorado.
Prior to co-founding the Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance, Gaspar served as the Western Slope Director for U.S. Senator Mark Udall. Perricone is currently a Wildlife Commissioner of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Conservation Chair of Denver Chapter of Trout Unlimited as well as a member of Colorado Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Colorado Wildlife Federation, Colorado Bowhunters Association, Rocky Mt. Elk Foundation, and the NRA.
Gaspar will be a featured contributor for Team Surra Outdoors as we follow his Colorado Big Game Hunting experience.]
Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Perhaps in part due to the turning of the leaves and the relief from the summer heat, but if truth be told, it is because it marks the beginning of our cherished annual hunting rituals.
With respect to these time-honored traditions, I once again find myself restless with anticipation for the upcoming 2011 archery elk season. My mind is consumed with thoughts of breaching dusk’s first light with high spirits and good friends in hopes of an encounter with the all too elusive elk.
With the weeks of scouting and hours of bow tuning behind me, all that is left in the final homestretch is dream filled nights and the wait. As I ponder the upcoming hunt I cant help but reflect once again on the reason that we find ourselves in the field and the lessons learned from last years adventure.
As is often the case, my optimist pursuit for Colorado-grown elk steak in 2010 was met with the not so subtle reminder that we must find true enthusiasm in the thrill of the hunt, because – after all – the elk often win.
As the 2010 season rapidly came to a close, we still held our tags in our pockets on the last day of the season. What’s worse the eternal force of Mother Nature blessed us with the additional challenge of ninety-degree temperatures, a full moon, and a blanket of dry leaves that offered a 4th of July-like celebration with every step. For those of you who do not hunt, this combination of elements often leads to a harvest success rate equivalent to fishing mid-day with a can of dry worms. Needless to say, this particular venture afforded me ample opportunity to reflect on the true elements of being an outdoorsman that frequently go unexplained.
In a sporting era dominated by the competitive nature of Boone & Crocket scoreboards and collections of trophy wall mounts, we often overlook the reasons we find ourselves in the woods in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, passing up a six by six bull elk requires a great act of discipline, but the real joy comes from that comforting smell of a smoldering fire in the crisp morning air, the jokes and lies told around the campfire in the company of family and friends the night before, and the ensuing challenge of being the perpetual underdog on nature’s home field.
The simple fact of the matter is in today’s hustle and bustle of an ever-evolving world, the inert ways of our ancestors and their connection to the land is a dwindling conception for many of us. Fortunately, every so often we can find console in the ability to escape civil disturbance in exchange for the solace of wilderness and the fair chase of game. It is during these times that we are able to rekindle emotions that lie dormant in our daily social environments. It is during these moments that our true nature as sportsmen exposes itself.
As I sat await nestled behind my makeshift blind, these thoughts reminded of the words of Jim Slinsky, “The sportsman lives his life vicariously. For he secretly yearns to have lived before, in a simpler time. A time when his love for the land, water, fish and wildlife would be more than just a part of his life. It would be his state of mind.”
It was this understanding that settled the flames of angst as our hunt was met by the noon hour with another unbountiful day. While the trials and tribulations of this impervious sport had bested us yet again, my reflections left me with the immutable truth that the sport I love is found not solely in the triumph of victory but also in the thrill of the hunt itself. It reminds us of what lies ahead and stokes the fire that keeps us in the field time and time again. So as this season come to a close, my sights were set on next year’s challenge. I have always been told that hope springs eternal.