Reflections On My First Elk Hunt, with Adam Gall

Longtime Mountain & Prairie listeners will remember Adam Gall– he’s a Colorado-based hunting guide who, along with his wife Ana, owns Timber to Table Guide Service. Adam is a highly regarded expert in the pursuit of elk and mule deer, and he offers a variety of outfitting services ranging from public land hunts for experienced hunters to private land hunts for beginners. In my first episode with Adam, we discussed his career path to guiding, which included stints as a wolf biologist and science teacher, as well as his advocacy for public lands and wildlife conservation.

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In early January, I had the pleasure of joining Adam for my first-ever elk hunt, and this episode is a discussion about that extremely powerful experience. I had wanted to hunt elk ever since moving to the Rocky Mountains back in 2005, but I never took the necessary steps to learn how to do it. While I do have limited experience with bird hunting, I had zero experience hunting with a rifle. The idea of starting big game hunting from scratch was intimidating and overwhelming– plus, I have way-too-many other hobbies that fill my time– so elk hunting has been on the back burner for more than 16 years. But after getting to know Adam, learning about his skills as a teacher, and admiring his calm demeanor and reverence for wildlife, I decided that he was just the person to introduce me to the sport of elk hunting.

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To be completely transparent, I was very nervous about all aspects of the hunt– my shooting proficiency, my ability to kill the elk quickly, quartering the animal, and processing the meat. I have the utmost respect for the skills required to be a responsible and effective big game hunter, so I was intent on approaching the entire endeavor with a high level of seriousness and focus. From the moment I arrived in Hotchkiss until we had processed the last pound of meat, Adam and Ana were exceptional teachers–we had a successful hunt and I left Hotchkiss with a newfound, life-changing appreciation for everything that is required to procure meat for my family.

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The purpose of this episode is to provide instruction and insight for people like me– individuals who are interested in big game hunting and procuring meat but have no idea where or how to start. Even if you’ve never shot a gun, there will be useful information in this episode. Adam and I discuss all aspects of the hunt–from shooting practice at the gun range on the first day all the way to processing the meat into burger, steaks, and roasts four days later. I discuss the overwhelming emotions I felt after killing such a majestic animal, and the eye-opening experience of learning about specific cuts of meat with Ana. We discuss how Adam’s experience as a teacher makes him such an effective guide, and the importance of approaching hunting with respect, reverence, and curiosity. We talk about game management, food systems, private lands’ role in wildlife health, and much more.

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I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Hopefully, it will give you the encouragement to pursue hunting if it is of interest to you. Hunting is obviously not for everyone, but as a person who eats and enjoys meat, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in all the tasks that are required to put clean, healthy meat on my family’s table.

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Thanks again to Adam and Ana for the once-in-a-lifetime experience, and thanks to you for listening. Enjoy!

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TOPICS DISCUSSED:

  • 4:45 - Thanks to Adam
  • 6:15 - Why Adam enjoys teaching first-time hunters
  • 8:15 - Adam's background as a teacher
  • 10:30 - Balancing fun and seriousness
  • 16:15 - Details of the private land "meat hunt"
  • 21:45 - Importance of game management on private lands
  • 23:45 - Hunt preparation
  • 32:15 - Morning of the hunt
  • 34:45 - The kill
  • 37:45 - Respect for the taking a life
  • 44:45 - Quartering the animal and processing the meat
  • 54:45 - A foundational shift in perspective
  • 58:00 - Cooking resources and ideas
  • 59:45 - Closing thoughts

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