It sat on my dresser all summer, stuck in the frame of the mirror. I looked at it every day and thought about what it was going to be like to kill my first elk. Sometimes, I’d just sit and hold it and envision myself sneaking through the timber with Uncle Grant’s .270 over my shoulder. I shot the rifle over and over that summer after Uncle Alan took it to Salt Lake City and had a scope put on it to replace the old peep sight. Sometimes, I’d get the rifle out and just hold it and the cow permit together. Then my brain would cue the video again and I’d be back in the snowy timber of my imagination. The pink card, the Model 54 Winchester and I were a team. All we needed was a chance to play.
Almost half a century has passed since that summer. But the magic is still there. The suspense, the anticipation, the video in my head – they’re all still there. I hope they always will be.