My first hunt

Fun, exciting, tiring, camping, hiking, learning, cold. This is how I describe my first elk hunt. About two years ago, I asked my dad if I could take the hunter education course.

After taking and passing the course, I could put in for a big-game tag just like everyone else who took the hunter education course.

The first year that I put in I was unsuccessful. The second year I put in, I got an elk tag. Waiting for that whole year to put in again seemed like forever. Now I needed to start preparing to learn how to hunt since my dad never hunted before. Luckily, my dad has a good friend that grew up hunting and was willing to teach us. We met up with him a few times to do some target practice. He taught me how to relax while taking a shot and also how to shoot.

Finally, my hunt was here. We headed up north to my hunt spot. As we headed up there and passed all of these big ponderosa pines, I said to my dad, “Holy smoke, Dad, now I see why New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment- this place is beautiful.”

We met up with our hunt group and helped out around camp however we could. After dinner we started making our hunt plans for the first day. (Abigail, Lauren and I were mostly playing flip the bottle the entire time.) For the next three days we were up way before sunrise. Brrr…it was cold. We would hike into the mountains looking and listening for any sign of elk. I did not realize how quiet we had to walk. The whole entire time it seemed like we were tiptoeing.

Banner: Aidric positioning his rifle. Below: Aidric Dominguez. Photos by James Dominguez.

After a lot of miles on our boots, we found a big herd of at least 80 elk grazing the second morning. When we found that herd, we were up on a hill. We walked in a single file line and snuck into the trees. We dropped Abigail and my dad off in a big clump of trees and Eric and I took off toward the elk. We hid between two trees and waited to get a shot. Eric and I decided to sneak up closer because the elk were around 280 yards away.

At one point an elk looked at us and we froze to keep from being seen. As we got closer, though, the herd took off. We tried to catch them. At one point Eric was fumbling with the stand and set it up for me to shoot at an elk. We did not get to take the shot but we got really close to taking one. So we hiked off in the direction of my dad and Abigail to pick them up and then we started hiking again.

A short while later, we came across a herd of four elk and quickly set up the stand to take a shot. Even though they were right there we had to be ethical hunters and that meant to not take a moving shot. At the end of the hunt we covered a lot of ground. Every day we walked approximately 9-12 miles.

Even though I did not harvest an elk, I sure learned a lot of stuff. It ranged from how to be an ethical hunter to how to track a blood trail to how to field dress an elk. I learned lots of things on my first hunt. I got to hang out with my dad, friends and most importantly, learn how to hunt.

Being a first time hunter can be intimidating. Sign up for a hunter education class and start learning. Once you draw a tag, ask an uncle, brother, friend, cousin or relative to take you hunting. I guarantee that once you are out there you will have a great time and want to do more of it.

Aidric Dominguez, age 10, is a 5th grader at San Antonio Elementary School in the East Mountains. He can often be found outside playing soccer, baseball and basketball. During the summer, he loves to spend time at the lake swimming and fishing and just recently, became interested in hunting.

About NMDGF

NMDGF
It is the mission of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to conserve, regulate, propagate and protect the wildlife and fish within the State of New Mexico, using a flexible management system that ensures sustainable use for public food supply, recreation and safety—and to provide for off-highway motor vehicle recreation that recognizes cultural, historic and resource values while ensuring public safety.