It’s cold, the air around you has grown thin, and condensation provides a glistening view as a headlamp illuminates the start of the day. You hear the scuffle of your friend in another tent. Drowsiness, excitement and hope of what may be hiding on the leeward side of the horizon flood your mind.
As you leave your nylon “homestead,” the sound of burning stoves adjoined with the smell of coffee give you a moment’s rest before the search is on. Fueled up, you tread to the outlook and find the best suited chair-like real estate, set up, and wait.
A once-dark landscape comes to life slowly. The sounds you heard while sleeping now have explanations. Trying to mimic a better predator than yourself, the search begins. Anticipation makes the time seem to slip away faster than in the speedy civilization you just left. Then the word comes … deer! A new sense of awareness and focus overwhelms your mind. The chase is on.
Those who have been in similar circumstances know what gives moments like these such great importance. It is a long and rich history of our forefathers, the way humankind grew over thousands of years, and now a pastime that is shared among those who still yearn for the wild. Hunting has been a part of our ancestors’ way of life. For us, it is a necessary thing to not stray into the rat race of civilization too quickly. It is for me a chance to learn, relax and take part in nature. It means being able to focus on something so much that you forget about a phone left on the dash of a truck, and the loud roar of tires rolling across a land once trampled on only by hoof and foot is a special thing.
After leaving the military with a short four years under my belt, I knew I would need something to keep me focused on the important things in my life. A rush back into school had me busy but still wanting the adventure, uncertainty and challenge that I left in the Air Force. I finally bought a bow and started to walk in areas I knew nothing about. Long story short, I learned about the habits of different animals, how to shoot straight, and how to hike… a lot. I had never known about public lands and their legacy. The more I found out about hunting and public lands the more my passion for them grew. A simultaneous accumulation of these things led to what’s now my favorite thing to do with my off time: fair chase hunting on America’s incredible public lands.
Matt Eischens is a student at Colorado State University where he serves as the president of the Colorado State BHA club. Before attending CSU, he served four years in the United States Air Force. He enjoys hunting Mule Deer in Colorado's high country.