For the Love of Hunting

For most of us, falling in love with hunting at a young age is second nature, and usually, a family tradition carried on from year to year. Sure, life might have gotten in the way for some of us at times, but that didn’t stop most of us from picking up where we left off and passing it along to our young ones.

Photos: Dr. Carroll with the bull he harvested in 16D.

For Dr. Joel Carroll, it wasn’t much different. “I fell in love with hunting with my dad and my friends when I was a young teenager,” said Carroll. Then he went off to college, grad school and got married, which only allowed him to hunt part-time. After that, he was able to get back into hunting. “I was fortunate with my dental practice and life’s opportunities that I was able to hunt around the world in many places.” However, this would change in 2009.

In a snowstorm in Michigan in 2009, Dr. Carroll crushed his leg. “I had 19 surgeries over five years and a below the knee amputation in 2014,” said Carroll. He kept hunting after his injury but not near the level before, since the usual physical requirements of hunting elk in the mountains are demanding. However, thanks to his prosthesis team’s fantastic help and success on his function level, he continues to enjoy most physical activities including elk hunting.

Dr. Carroll said the most limiting thing for him is the irregular terrain where you hunt elk and other mountainous species, “the rocky ground is a huge challenge; smooth, stable and solid terrain is so much more doable, of course.” Dr. Carroll went on to say that the irregular terrain of rocky hills, the distance required to get to elk or other species, as well as the 7,000-12,000 feet elevation is just comical at times.

This year, Dr. Carroll hunted 16D for elk, where he harvested a magnificent bull. He said that it is truly a gift to be able to hunt the state of New Mexico. “I have been an amputee since 2015, and this has been a huge highlight.” “The Gila is special,” said Carroll.

There have been times in my life where I didn’t think I could continue to do the things I loved and contemplated continuing to do them. However, I always found a way or the motivation to continue doing them. After hearing about Dr. Carroll’s story and seeing the elk he harvested, it gave me even more reason not to give up. I hope this truly inspiring story will reach out to you the same way it did to me.

About Ross Morgan

Ross Morgan is the Public Information Officer in the Northwest Area for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.