As I stood there on top of a mountain in Idaho with my bow and pack strapped to me, I felt so damn alive. Sweat poured down my camo-covered face. I felt tiny on top of this massive peak, a mere speck in the vast wilderness. However, I felt strong: I had trained and conditioned myself for this moment for a long time. I was not short of breath, I was not exhausted; rather I was completely exhilarated. I felt on top of the world and forgot that I was even hunting for a moment and instead was simply one with this mountain and one with nature. It was an incredible rush of adrenaline and I could hardly believe that it was even real. I looked back at my guide Billy and asked if we could sit against a rock and simply take it all in. He saw what I saw and nodded and we sat down.
As it often happens in the field amongst hunters or outdoorsmen and women in general, the two of us decided it was time to do some soul searching. Billy began to tell me about his life, where he grew up and some personal struggles he as dealing with. He spoke of the ways that the outdoors, hunting, and nature as a whole has helped him through so many rough patches. I shared some of my recent emotional issues that were nagging at me and also explained how the outdoors is my foundation for getting my head right. We talked for a couple of hours and then we took 15 or 20 minutes of total silence to breathe in this mountainous Idaho beauty. As we stood back up to head down into a canyon where we heard some serious bugling, we both knew we had just become brothers for life.
I believe that nature, as untamed as she is, has a way of equalizing human order. Nature also has a way of creating bonds amongst hunters, amongst friends and family that are inexplicable. Just minutes before we stood on that mountaintop, we were total strangers and now we were brothers – it really happens like that in the outdoors.
In case you are wondering, we did not kill on that trip, although we had some insanely close calls with a monster bull. That said, I would not trade the friendship built for a 300 inch bull. Now a 400 incher? Well sorry, Billy, but he would be taking my arrow over the buddies thing, just kidding…
Image © iStockPhoto/Ron and Patty Thomas Photography