By The Grace Of God

Archery hunting is not for everyone. It takes hard work, dedication, commitment, perseverance and passion. The secret is to never ever give up and to love the memories you make more than the tags you do or do not fill. Born into a hunting family, I started shooting and tagging along with my father, Tim Fox, before I was old enough to even have a tag in Colorado. At 12 years old, I killed my first archery cow elk and I was hooked. I was born with archery hunting in my blood and chasing the Colorado Big 8 became my lifetime goal - my recent 2017 bull elk harvest makes three (Black Bear 2011 and Mule Deer 2015) with five more to go.

This was my first year hunting in a draw only unit and I had my hopes set high. When opening weekend arrived, my husband, Bryant Szabo, and I were a bit hesitant of how it would turn out - the weather was hot and we had not seen any bulls since the beginning of July. We were up at 3am to ensure we were the first ones at the parking lot and to give us plenty of time to get to our morning spot before sunrise. We spent all morning partaking in our usual armed hiking activities that are all too familiar to us in the month of August and September, deciding that this weekend might just be about finding some spots we haven’t explored yet.

Discouraged from the morning, hot and exhausted, we slowly got ready for the evening hunt unsure as to what we should do. As a last-minute decision and a short call later from a buddy hunting deer in the area, we decided to head up country to some dark timber. Heading up the road on the four-wheeler, we were forced up higher than we have recently ventured due to the number of other hunters in the area. Picking a random spot and running out of hunting time, we pull off the road and started hiking. We have never had any luck hunting elk walking through the dark timber so we were a little optimistic. About 30 minutes into our evening hike, my husband stopped dead in his tracks ... sure enough we spooked a bull out of his bed. Freezing in our tracks, we expected him to bolt out of sight but instead he decided to lay back down. Without a second thought, we quickly but quietly changed positions and got situated to take a shot if present. Assessing the situation, we decided that the only way I would get a chance was if he stood up, completely turned back around and happened to walk through the only opening that was there. One hour and one heart thumping something is busting through the woods later, he decided it was time to get up. Awhile before that I told my husband that if he did stand and turn that I was going to pull back because at that point a tree would be between us.


As it all started to pan out, I could feel my heart start to pound, the elk turned, I pulled back, he started walking and then bam - he stops looking directly at us. There I was at full draw with a bull staring right at me. I am a weight lifter so instantly my subconscious motivational speeches kicked in, “Don’t you let go, hold tight, you can do this,” all while my husband is telling me “don’t shoot, don’t shoot.” Just as I was getting to the point of having no choice but to let it down I hear him say, “38 yards, shoot.” I did. Shaken up from the entire last two minutes of my life that felt like five, I dropped to the ground. We didn’t hear much after that one quick crash and then silence. After recouping ourselves, we walked down to where he stood and started our hunt for blood and what started out as a great blood trail trickled down to nothing. Panicking a bit at this point, I remembered what my dad always told me that a wounded bull will head down and go to water. By the grace of God, I decided to walk over to the creek nearby and through this small clearing in the foliage, I watch him lie down.

We perched up on the trail just above him with an arrow knocked for about 10 minutes just in case and then out of nowhere he jumps ups, not feeling too great at this point, and bolts towards us and heads down country more. Bull A few moments later, a bear comes strolling right into the same clearing licking his chops. We are in complete disbelief at this point and have no idea where the bull went. Making a unanimous decision after spooking the bear back up country, we decided to come back in the morning.

Leaving an animal overnight never settles good for me especially when you have no clue where that animal is. Expecting the worst and ready to search for a bull all day, we recruited a friend of my husbands, Braden Box, to help us. We made it back on the mountain at daylight and headed down the ravine to where he first laid down. At this point, I was on a mission. So I took off down a game trail that followed the creek, a bit weary of finding a bear, and once again by the grace of God I turned the bend, looked through a clearing in the branches and there he was all in one piece! It was all I could do not to cry in excitement. I yelled out to the guys and six hours later we were headed down the mountain with one heck of a trophy, memories that I will cherish forever, a full freezer and new wall decor!