Luke Reeves, THC Nebraska
The Chapter Leaders
It was May of last year when we started The Hunt in Common and most of us were complete strangers. We all wanted to leaders in our home states and build THC chapters that we could connect together into a national movement of hunting mentorship.
First, we had to get to know each other. So, our group of strangers from across the country started planning an elk hunt.
In the beginning there were as many as 13 leaders from various states planning on attending our inaugural archery elk hunt on public land in Colorado. We met bi-weekly at first to discuss our gear lists and go over our maps, only two-chapter leaders had ever hunted elk, and only one had ever been successful. We all got to know one another as we planned a week in the backcountry, trusting that our shared enthusiasm for our new non-profit would translate shared values in the field.
A leader summit begins.
As our preparations progressed people began to fall off for one reason or another. Whether it’s time, money, or family, we all know how hard it is to break away from our daily lives. That is one of the great challenges of hunting mentorship.
In the end there were only six of us that were able to go. Leaders from Nebraska, California, Arizona, Ohio, and Colorado would all find our way to a specific waypoint in the middle of nowhere in Colorado. We would be hunting under the mentorship of our two Colorado chapter leaders Ryan Sapena and Riley Nelson.
Ryan scouted our area throughout the summer and as the only chapter leader to have ever taken a bull with his bow, we all trusted his guidance. Trust played a huge part in the entire planning process of this entire hunt. Only Jordan and I had ever met in person before this, Riley and Ryan met up for a scouting trip and so they could get to know one another after planning started. Otherwise, we were all strangers from the internet, having only ever communicated via zoom calls and group texts. I think it was how authentic everyone was, and how enthusiastic for the outdoors we all were that helped us. Beyond that, I have no other explanation for how you could get six strangers to agree to meet up for such an expensive and dangerous experience. Try getting six family members to pick a night of the week to meet for dinner.
Here I was with five other people who I had never known before this group started, getting ready to spend seven days on the mountain doing something I’d wanted to do my whole life.
- Luke Reeves
When September hit we had begun to have more than one meeting a week just to discuss our plans and figure out when everyone was going to arrive and how everyone was going to get home. I would drive in the night before and stay with Rylee, and then we would carpool the rest of the way. Jordan and Mark were both driving the entire way in one go, from California and Arizona respectively. Bryan from Ohio would already be in Colorado on a fishing trip with his dad, so Jordan would be picking him up in Grand Junction before heading out to the mountains. Ryan was from the area, so he would be waiting for all of us. When that Friday arrived, everything went into motion without a hitch, I arrived at Rylee’s just in time for bed. Our first Hunt in Common chapter leaders hunt had almost started.
The next morning we packed all of Rylee’s gear in to my truck and started the last 7 hours of our trip. We would be at the waypoint that day around 1pm, which was a little later than planned but everyone else was running slow as well. We ended up being the first ones there, but by 4pm everyone had arrived. A stranger watching might have thought sox college buddies were meeting for a reunion as happy as all of us were. It FELT like a reunion of old friends, not a meeting of new ones. Here I was with five other people who I had never known before this group started, getting ready to spend seven days on the mountain doing something I’d wanted to do my whole life.
I’d love to tell you that we had our first bull down that next morning, that we had loads of success and did everything right. We didn’t. Pressured elk, other hunters, and inexperience plagued us at every turn. That all was second though, to the experience of meeting and hunting with each other. None of us could get over how well we all got along and how much we all had in common. The failures in the field didn’t matter, because all we could talk about was how successful THC was going to be. Mixing our passion for our organization with our passion for hunting made for some fantastic campfire conversations.
We still have those fantastic campfire conversations, every other week on Thursdays. We’ve all taken more people hunting this year than we ever had before. Realizing how rewarding it is to share these experiences with other people was the real win from our Colorado Elk hunt. Can’t wait for this year.
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