By Jay Cassell
For eight months, starting last February, I went to the gym near my office in New York City every lunch hour, five times a week. I got on the stationary bicycle and cycled for 40 minutes, then went on the treadmill for 10, running at full incline as fast as I could. After that, I'd hit the weights for another 20 minutes, then head back to work. Starting in June, I also had a personal trainer helping me with my routines, making me work on muscles I didn't even know existed.
Why on earth would I torture myself like this? Simple. I had a Colorado elk hunt planned for late September. It all started in January when one of my colleagues at Field & Stream, Greg Gatto, told me he was putting together a group of five hunters to go bowhunting for elk for a week in the Gunnison National Forest. He wanted to know if I'd like to go. He had hunted with an outfitter, Terry Commander, owner of Commander and Company, the previous year, and had really been impressed with her operation.
The plan was to put in for elk and mule deer tags, so if we were lucky, we would each get chances at two animals. Having never bowhunted for elk (I've bowhunted for whitetails back home in New York, as well as turkeys), I said yes in a heartbeat. "This is tough country," Greg told me. "It's really steep, and the air is thin, so you'd better get in shape." I did, and was as ready for the thin mountain air as I could be.
This is Greg with a raghorn elk he shot on the last day of our hunt. Distance? Four yards. Yes, that's right, I said four.
Photo by Jay Cassell