“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” - John Steinbeck
One day, while filming last years #DEERTOUR, I was interviewing Ryan Shoemaker, an extremely passionate bowhunter and writer from Bowhuntquest in Ohio. He was sharing his story with me of a solo Elk hunt he had just finished. 7 days and 10 miles into the backcountry of Southern Colorado, there he was, all alone. Just him and the solitude of mother nature.
He shared how thrilling yet scary it was to be there all alone. It was an experience unlike any other. Immediately I was fascinated by every detail he shared. It was like I was listening to someone read the words from a best selling novel. I couldn’t get enough.
He did not kill an elk on that hunt but it didn’t matter, the experience was more than worth the price of admission.
As we stood in his trophy room in the second floor of his home, he described many other hunts to me in similar detail. Another one that touched me was when he described the Bull he had hanging on the wall of his living room.
As he spoke from a memory that seemed like it occurred just the day before, his voice began to change pitch. His lips began to twitch. His eyes watered up. He painted this surreal picture of how he managed to shoot and kill his first bull elk and described how his great friend “Pup” was there with him, every step of the way as they packed out that bull miles from the nearest public land road.
At this point, I had turned the camera off for some things are not meant to be broadcast. I wanted to let Ryan get all his emotions out without having to worry about being recorded.
I’m glad I did because it was at that point, that I had told myself that if a strong man such as Ryan can endure so much physical and mental joy and pain, simultaneously, all from an elk hunt, that one day, I too must experience it.
Fast forward 7 or 8 months later and I see Ryan tweet that he’s been thinking about me filming him on an elk hunt. We DM (direct message) each other back and forth on Twitter and actually start planning to do a test run for what he coined as the #ELKTOUR. At the time, I did not know if I could pull off such a hunt, especially on camera. But I promised him that I’d keep it in mind as we drew closer to the season.
As a month or so went by, and I told Ryan that I’d be able to take off for 5 days and film the a test run of the #ELKTOUR. He was so stoked. We shared plans for what gear to bring, what the weather would be like, maps of the area and more. It was going to be great.
Then, a couple weeks later, Ryan informed me that the trip may have to be cancelled as he had just been hired for his dream job and had to move right before the season started. It was a bump in the road for the trip but a blessed moment for him as I assured him that family had to come first. He had to do what was best for them.
We were both saddened that our journey for this year was no more. Perhaps next year would bear better fruit for us.
After thinking about it a bit, I decided I had to push on and make the #ELKTOUR happen. Somehow I would find a way.
After regrouping and gathering my bearings, I reached out to a few locals and friends on Twitter. Some could not make it due to schedule conflicts but after many emails and DM’s on Twitter I had the makings of what would become an amazing lineup of hunters for season 1 of #ELKTOUR.
All of the folks that I’ll be filming are people I met online, yeah I know, a common theme for me and Huntography. These are great people who are passionate about hunting and the outdoors.
#ELKTOUR is going to be a family affair. Emily and Troy are an amazing husband and wife couple who share their passion for the outdoors, together, season after season. I have followed them online for a couple of years but only got close to them while planning to film them. I can’t wait to capture their experience on camera for all to enjoy.
Next, I’ll be filming two passionate brothers from the western slope of Colorado, Eric and Nathan. Eric is the founder of DIYbowhunter.com, an amazing group of Do-It-Yourself hunters from around the country. Eric tells me he and his brother have been teaming up on hunts since he could remember. I can’t wait to film them not only in the field, but also in our elk camp, where I look forward to diving deeper into the brotherly hunting bond.
The final stop of the #ELKTOUR with bring me to Idaho, where I’ll be filming Dustin and his brother Kevin along with their father and other family members in a backcountry elk hunt , miles from the nearest road. Capturing the dynamic of an entire family of elk hunters around one campfire will surely deliver many tales from years past.
Together, with Ryan’s inspiration and a family of elk hunters we now call #ELKTOUR, we hope to capture an elk hunting experience on camera unlike any other before us.
The fruits of our labor , in the form of a DVD, will be submitted to the Full Draw Film Tour, a non-profit organization that supports hunting charities, while promoting bowhunting and up and coming outdoor filmmakers. We hope our submission makes the cut so that hunters like you and me, can enjoy other hunters and hunting experiences we can all relate to.
I hope this trip takes each of us on a journey that we will all treasure forever.
For more information, visit us on Huntography.