Applications And Expectations

The end of March is drawing near. For many of us, that means it’s time to fill out applications for elk permits in several states in hopes of drawing at least one. One of my favorite elk hunting destinations is New Mexico.  I started hunting in New Mexico when I was 10 because there is no age restriction for big game like there is in some other states.  I have been fortunate enough to draw 3 times and take two really nice bulls with my 270 rifle.  I took my first bull when I was 10 years old and my second when I was 13.


Here is 10 year old Alli Armstrong with her first New Mexico bull. She made an impressive 350 yard shot with her 270 WSM rifle that she won at an NWTF banquet. While filling out my New Mexico youth application this year, I thought back to last year. I had entered in the drawing for the youth elk hunt and didn’t draw. I was very disappointed.  Elk hunting is what I look forward to every year so the thought of not being able to go was a bit discouraging. I wasn’t out of luck yet; I could still buy an archery tag over the counter in Colorado.  My Dad and Papaw have gone archery elk hunting in Colorado every year since 1990. Not only had I dreamed for years about going elk hunting but also about going with them. At fifteen I have taken several whitetails with my bow and I was very confident that I could take an elk.  This year I was finally going to Colorado. We found a great place called QRS Outdoor Specialties with a very nice lodge and a lot of big bulls; not to mention all the friendly people and wonderful food they provided. 


This beautiful 330 class New Mexico bull fell to the author’s well-placed shot when she was just 13 years old.

On the very first morning, I had a chance at a huge bull at 30 yards with some cows. Elk are beautiful creatures and there’s nothing more exciting than having a huge screaming bull coming straight at you. When the bull turned and stopped, I was at full draw and released my arrow. Unfortunately, all I got was my first Colorado limb.  The arc of my arrow was just enough to hit the limb.  I couldn’t have hit it any more dead center if I had tried.  I was so disappointed and at the time wondered if I would get another opportunity. The experience of being that close to the elk and to be there at all was more than enough to keep me motivated and ready for another opportunity. I kept going and on the third day, I had another chance. We had been calling at an elk that was fairly close, but needed to be closer, especially if I had any hopes of shooting it with my bow. We kept calling and finally pulled him away from his herd.  At this time he was about 90 yards away. As he walked closer towards us, even at this distance, I could see the steam from his breath. I thought about how huge and majestic elk really are and hoped he’d come just a little closer.


The sweet taste of success! Here is 15 year old Alli with her first archery bull in Colorado.

At last, he was at 60 yards and wasn’t getting any closer so I decided to take the shot. I was confident and zeroed in on him just behind the shoulder and squeezed the trigger on my release. I watched as the arrow hit its mark.  He ran about 40 yards and lay down. I had just gotten my first elk with my Mathews Jewel and I was more than overjoyed! Not drawing the New Mexico tag was a blessing in disguise.  It gave me the opportunity to take my first elk with a bow.  I hope this year is as successful as the last.  I wish everyone good luck this year!  Be safe and have fun!

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