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My son, Josh Boak, 14, has enjoyed the outdoors since an early age. My family has long enjoyed camping together, and hunting comes along with it. I learned to hunt at an early age from my dad and wanted to pass that tradition on to my son. I began teaching Josh firearm safety with a BB gun, and a few years ago we went through the hunter education class so we could apply for big game hunts together.
Josh drew a tag for the youth hunt in Game Management Unit 6A last fall. We enjoyed the barbecue dinner at Happy Jack the night before the hunt, and Josh joined the Arizona Elk Society that evening. The anticipation of the hunt began to build.
We took the field the next day and did a fair amount of hiking. At one point, we stopped for a break, and four bulls soon strolled to within 30 yards of where we were sitting. My son was very excited and breathing loudly. As the bulls turned and walked by us, we noticed another elk at the end of the group—it was a cow! I moved to the side and Josh carefully assessed his target before firing.
Josh was using a .308 that my father bought for my first elk hunt, when I was in high school. I was unsuccessful on that hunt, but my father, who passed away three years ago, was with us in spirit on this hunt. Josh fired the 38-year-old Mossberg and made his shot count, taking a fine animal.
Now the work began. We didn’t realize we were two miles away (and part-way up a mountain) from the truck and the ATV. Thank God for the radio and our hunting buddies—they came to help us quarter and carry the elk down the mountain to the ATV.
It was a long day, but I will never forget the excitement on my son’s face as he stood over what we came so far to get. I was a very proud (and tired) dad that day. Two days later our hunting buddies took their elk. This time the boys had better knowledge of how to use their knives when field dressing a game animal. Now my son wants to be the meat cutter on every hunt.
This was Josh’s first elk, as well as his first big game animal, and we are hooked! He wants to put in for every youth hunt he can before he gets too old. All in all, the junior hunt experience was a very good time for everyone.