The NW Mt. Challenge Archery Event, Tamarack ID - Our Adventure
Written by Anthony Spencer
NW Mt. Challenge Archery Event
After attending the Full Draw Film Tour Boise show, our plan was to get an early start Saturday morning and head 2 hours north to the NW Mt. Challenge. That didn’t happen. We got up late. Left even later and I couldn’t resist a 15 minute detour to see my wife who had been gone all week at a youth girls camp for our church. After that, we arrived at the Tamarack ski resort around 2 pm. We found out we were too late for the Hunt/Fit Challenge, which might have been a good thing. Watching those guys, and one really tough girl, pack 200 pounds about a ¼ mile uphill and then back down got my competitive juices flowing, but with a recent bout with a sore back, it was an injury waiting to happen. The only real downside to missing the challenge was having to listen to Brian talk about how he would have crushed the event if he had only got there in time. Oh Brian! It’s a good thing you’re so humble.
I have been thinking about replacing my old Dana Design pack lately and one of the packs I have had in mind was the EXO Mountain Gear pack from Steve Speck (SNS archery and Pure Elevation). I saw he had a booth at the shoot and we had to spend a few minutes, or an hour, with him and the pack. I was impressed with both. Steve and his partners are the real deal and it showed in the thoughtful design of his pack. If it wasn’t for all the camera gear I am in need of, a new EXO pack would have been ordered on the spot.
The location was gorgeous. We jumped on the ski lift and headed to the mid-way point on the mountain. It was awesome to be at a 3-d shoot that had the look and feel of a high country backpack hunt. Elk sign littered the meadows and added to the realistic atmosphere. This was going to be a great experience for Mark especially. As most of you know, Mark is pretty new to hunting and got involved with us while on a relatively easy elk hunt a few years ago. He has been working on his conditioning and this would be a good test for where he was at.
We started on the Pure Elevation course. The course, in a nutshell, was steep and long. Steep hills. Long hills. Steep shots. Long shots. I should have known when Steve Speck told me not only were rangefinders allowed but were considered mandatory. He wasn’t kidding! Long shots are all the rage these days in rifle hunting and in archery hunting. To each their own on how far you are comfortable shooting, but for me, I make no claims to be a great long-range shooter. Truth be told, if I have any type of skill in killing animals, it lies in my ability to get close enough that my poor long range shooting doesn’t come into play. That being said, it is always beneficial to push our limits in order to get better and push our limits we did! This was Mark’s first shoot and his only goal was to leave the event with at least one of the six arrows he had in his quiver. Mission accomplished. He only missed two targets and came home with all six. Brian and I missed a few ourselves. I may have been the only one to lose an arrow, but that was due to a branch that came out of nowhere and was not my fault.
We got the pleasure of shooting with Brian Drake, who we met at the sight-in range. Great guy! And we had a blast shooting with him. With all our bantering, he probably left there wondering how the three of us can get along for a two week elk hunt. Don’t worry Brian… I still don’t know the answer to that one.
Mark was doing his best and his efforts are to be applauded. Not only was this guy way overweight and out of shape not that long ago, but he had never even shot a bow until last year. He finished the course with several victories. All his arrows, a good knowledge of his effective shooting range and while he was physically spent, we didn’t have to carry him back to the comforts of the ski lift to take him the two miles back to the bottom.
…Oh wait. The chair lift stopped at 4 pm! We arrived at 5:30 pm. Sorry Mark. If we had only known, maybe we would have shot faster.. Probably not though.
We shot our way down one of the other courses until we hit the bottom. Tired but still having a blast. We spent some time shooting some of the novelty shots. The 110 yard sasquatch, the floating ping pong balls and talking with guys from Camofire.com, Born and Raised Outdoors and FirstLIte. In fact, we met Ryan Callaghan, marketing director for First Lite. Not only was he a great guy and we had a great time talking elk hunting, but he fed us some awesome dutch oven elk nachos. Thanks Ryan.
We ended the day with a great elk calling seminar from Cory Jacobsen from Elk 101. Pretty much everyone who knows Cory describes him as a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy and from what I saw I would have to agree. He got everyone pumped for elk season as we listed to his nearly perfect bugles in a gorgeous meadow at sundown. We finished off the evening with a encore showing of a few of the films from the FDFT on a huge blow-up movie screen. It was a great weekend and we can’t wait to go back to next year’s shoot.
Maybe next year we’ll be on time so we can compete in the Hunt/Fit Challenge. Then again, we’ll probably be late as usual.
See you there!