The Bigger the Challenge-The Bigger the Reward

By Alli ArmstrongJune 23, 2014

LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015

As hunters, especially bowhunters, we all know how difficult but rewarding hunting can be. The hunter must find a perfect balance between stand/blind placement, scent control, proper gear use, time restrictions, and other challenging factors. Some people don’t understand why we do what we do. They don’t see the many rewards that are found as soon as you walk into those woods or that wide-open field.

Being able to accurately shoot and harvest an animal is only a portion of the satisfaction that is found while hunting in the great outdoors. Most of us hunters will do whatever it takes to be out there as much as we possibly can because the rewards are so abundant. The challenges are what make the hunt worthwhile.

An Elk

Filming an elk hunt can be difficult. However, hunting and filming yourself can be even harder.

Not only do my family and I hunt, but we also film every hunt. Filming adds a whole new level of difficulty to the hunting game but it also adds more rewards. Not only does the hunter face the same challenges as before but now he or she also has to help keep another person hidden from the animal. You’re no longer trying to get one shot at an animal. You now have to have two: one ethical kill shot and one clearly focused shot with the camera. More often than not, the kill shot is much easier of an opportunity. I have even passed on several shots myself, due to not being able to get the animal on film like I wanted. This can sometimes be discouraging, but the benefit is having that memory and that moment captured on film and it will always be at hand.

The most challenging and impressive thing to me is when someone can pull off a bow kill while filming the hunt himself or herself. I have never done this but I understand how much talent it takes to make it happen. My dad has done this multiple times, including this fall on an archery elk hunt. I look up to Dad for so many things, but this one goes on the top of the list for filming.

Hunter with a 5x5 Elk

Alli’s dad with his 5×5 elk that he shot and filmed himself.

On his yearly elk hunt to Colorado he took his bow and his video camera out with him. After driving twenty hours straight, he arrived in the afternoon and instead of going to bed, he went scouting. He went to his favorite spot on the mountain where fingered ridges come together and hung a climbing stand (so he wouldn’t have to pack it and the camera gear in the next morning). The elk liked to feed their way up the ridges in the morning and then bed on the side of the mountain for the afternoon. Dad’s plan was to get in the stand early in the morning and try to call in elk coming up the finger ridges to him.

The next morning with camera gear and bow in hand, he got to the stand and climbed up. Shortly after getting settled in, he heard bugles in the distance. He started out with light cow calling to keep anything from spooking if it was nearby. After that, he threw some bugles mixed in with some cow calling. It wasn’t long until he got a response and he knew he was in the game. Dad heard brush breaking nearby and within seconds, a small, satellite bull appeared. He was a 5×5 and he ended up being only 10 yards away. The bull checked out the area and then was gone about as quickly as he arrived.

Filming an Elk Hunt

Alli and her sister, Adriana, filming a hunt together.

Soon after the small bull left, Dad heard the other bull bugling a little closer than before. He kept cow calling until he was certain the bull was going to close the distance. Before long, Dad began to hear the brush breaking and a cow appeared. She wasn’t too far and Dad filmed her out of his tree stand with a camera arm attached to the stand. She had walked across in front of him so his back was turned when the bull stepped out where the cow had originally came from. Dad had to wait until the cow went behind a tree to turn the camera and get prepared to shoot the bull. The cow elk had previously went behind a dead pine log that Dad had ranged to be 25 yards and the bull was following right in her tracks. Dad had his bow in his left hand and was filming with his right hand. Once the bull was in an open spot he cow called and quietly clicked his release on his bowstring.

The bull stopped and looked the other way while Dad drew back and shot. The arrow passed straight through the bull! He had managed to make a perfect shot all while videoing and calling for himself. The amount of skill that it took to make that happen amazes me! I hope to be able to do that in the near future just like my Daddy.

Alli Armstrong
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