At 4 a.m., I sit bolt upright at the alarm’s buzz. After lingering for a few minutes in my warm sleeping bag, I finally muster the energy to leave the comfy cocoon. Hunting elk in the mountains puts extra demands on my body, and I’m groggy from too little sleep. Plus, the bulls have been serenading me with bugles all through the frosty September night, making it difficult to sleep with all the excitement.
Such early mornings coupled with interrupted nights in the high country can take their toll. So, as the sun reaches its zenith, I stop scouting and search for a sunny spot out of the wind to rest. I pore over maps, eat a snack and make a few notes about the morning’s encounters. Then, as the sun’s warmth soaks into my body, my eyelids begin to feel heavy.
Driven as I am to keep hunting, most of my midday breaks in the high country now usually end in a siesta. This day is no different. I get out my sitting pad—one of the few luxuries I pack into the backcountry—and use an extra fleece as a pillow. It doesn’t take much to relax amid the astonishingly beautiful landscape.
In my semi-consciousness, I start to smell things I hadn’t noticed before, such as the aroma of sun-warmed pine and wild mint. And on the breeze, I catch the unmistakable odour of a bull elk. The sounds of nature are more noticeable, too: rustling grass, a squirrel gnawing a pine cone and trickling water serve as welcomed white noise as I drift off. Then, a bugle! I don’t know how long I’ve been asleep, but the sound pulls me back from dreamland. I’m recharged and ready to get back at it—thanks to the midday nap, an essential part of my hunt.
Saskatchewan contributor Lowell Strauss makes up for his naps by hunting hard after he wakes up.