There was a narrow window in my childhood between being old enough to go camping with my dad and when his interests shifted away from camping. I haven’t pursued the hobby myself, so most of my camping memories are from this time, being young and cold and in the way.
On one trip, we woke up early and walked deep into the snowy woods. We were hunting elk. I thought a hunter should have a gun, but the gun was bigger than me, so I carried the snacks. It didn’t feel much like hunting. I felt my fingers were going numb in the cold. I saw bare aspen trees and green pines, but no elk. My complaining probably warned them we were in the area. After a while we heard gun shots. Someone from our hunting party was doing better than us.
By the time we got back to our group we found they had shot a doe elk and dragged it back to the road and brought a truck to haul it back to the camp site. There was enough snow on the road they decided to tie a rope around the elk and drag it behind the truck. I rode on top of the elk.
I’d never been so close to such a huge, smelly animal before. Its tongue was hanging out and eyes were open. I sat on its shoulder and held on tight to its fur as I rode it like a sled back to camp. It was a strange introduction to death.