Here’s A Hunt To Be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a great story about a hunter being a lot more thankful for her harvest than just filling a tag and having a freezer of meat. This is running in the November issue of our sister magazine, Alaska Sporting Journal: 

Photos by Brian Watkins


There are times in a hunt when you feel the moment more than any other. It might come out of nowhere, but you know that it will be a lasting memory. It sinks deep into your body with lasting force. There’s a connection in your heart that you know will last forever.

I’ve had those moments and they happen out of the blue. Whether it be the perfect sunset, or perhaps the silence of the forest, these moments come without notice. This story is one that I cherish, but I’m sure the huntress holds deeper.

MY ROOMMATE OF NINE years, Grace Hunt, had started shooting one of my bows in 2012. Her draw length was shorter than mine, so she often left the range with huge welts on her forearms. When you shoot a bow with a longer draw length, it makes you “reach” for the bow as you settle into position. The forearm cuts the pathway of the string as you release, slicing into your skin. If you’ve had it happen, you know the pain. Grace powered through the pain of the “string bite” and still fell in love with shooting bows.

Grace’s father Dave bought her a brand new Bowtech for her birthday in 2013. It was a special moment for her since her dad lived back in Michigan. He was visiting family and surprised her.

Instantly, Grace’s shot improved. And I’m not afraid to admit that she can often outshoot me. As Grace started to shoot more, her desire to hunt grew. She went with her cousin shortly after getting her bow and harvested her first pronghorn.

We put in for draw hunts and I suggested Grace try a tag I knew well. It had good draw odds for cow moose, and I had hunted the area years prior for bulls. I knew where the moose would be. Grace is terrified of bears and this was a winter hunt, so that played into the choice as well.

We hunted a few evenings and turned up a few moose. Our hunt lasted the duration of a cold snap in which the ambient temperature hung around minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit. We found a cow and made the stalk into 45 yards. Grace made a perfect shot, literally sending an arrow right through the cow’s heart. It was her first moose and second big game animal with her bow.

IT WAS A GREAT moment for Grace and it became even more special when she dialed up her dad back home. Dave had been battling cancer, though he so wanted to be with us. When Grace called, her dad’s voice was free of any f the hardship he had been dealing with. Dave’s excitement radiated through and you could feel how proud he was of his only daughter. It was one of those moments that you knew would last forever. I fought back tears as the excitement and enjoyment they shared touched me deeply too. The phone call felt more special than the arrow hitting its mark.

GRACE’S DAD PASSED AWAY the following April. In anyone’s passing, it’s hard to understand why. But the moments like that special phone call are the memories we can cherish and smile about as we remember them.

Grace was fortunate enough to draw that moose tag again this year. I know she will try again to make Daddy smile from above. We may not share a phone call with him this year, but we will still share that special moment with the knowledge that Dave’s in the woods with us.

It’s always important to cherish special moments like that. We get caught up in this fast-paced world, but hunting allows us to slow down and create those precious seconds that last a lifetime. ASJ