Corky Richardson – the Start of a Lifetime of Hunting Elk with His Dad
Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak represents many core values that run through the hearts of most Americans – family, patriotism, conservation and the great outdoors. Corky Richardson of Laveen, Arizona, either has guided or hunted for himself on more than 150 elk hunts, he’s harvested over 80 bulls, and he's a member of the PSE ProStaff. Another constant that runs through Richardson’s veins is family. On many of the elk hunts that he’s guided or been on, his dad, George Richardson, or his wife, Cindi, have been there. Richardson also guides hunters to take free-ranging buffalo with their bows. His favorite Mossy Oak camouflage is Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity.
Where I live in Arizona is home to some of the biggest elk in the world. I'm fascinated about the size of elk, their speed and the keenness of their senses. I also like to call elk. I've always enjoyed calling critters. Elk hunting can be physically demanding, and my style of elk hunting is often run-and-gun. I've been skinny, I've been fat, and I’ve been in good shape. I like to go 100 percent all the time - regardless of the shape I'm in – and the only difference I can see is when I weigh more, the hunt seems to hurt more at night when I lay down at the end of the day.
I've never lost the enthusiasm I had on the first elk hunts I ever went on back in the early 1970s. My dad would pick me up from school on Fridays, and we’d go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department and pick up one of the elk tags that were unsubscribed. Back then, the Game and Fish Department was trying to promote elk hunting with a bow, and they actually had left-over elk-hunting permits at that time. So, Dad and I would stop by and pick up a tag that entitled us to take any elk we wanted to take with a bow.
On my first elk hunt, we drove up to an area that my dad and I knew really well. The first day of the hunt was Saturday morning. When I woke up, snow was falling in the middle of September. I got up early. I didn’t want to wake up my dad and mother. I just took off elk hunting. At 12-years old, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was just in the mountains walking around with my bow. I probably shouldn’t have gone out on my own. But in youngsters, I've learned that enthusiasm often outruns good judgment.
I knew this country really well, because my family and I had spent many summers in this region camping and hiking. When I got about a mile or so away from camp, a fog rolled in, the ground was muddy and wet, and I couldn’t see very far in front of me. I went into a thick fog bank. When the fog cleared for just a second, I looked all around me, and elk were bedded everywhere. Seven of the elk were bulls. About 40-yards away, there was a big 6x6 bedded in the wide open. I spotted a spike bull bedded about 6 yards from me. I decided that the surest shot was the spike closest to me. I nocked my arrow and shot the spike. The spike only went about 20 yards before he fell over. I can still feel the adrenaline rush I had when I saw that elk go down. I ran straight to him, put my little daypack on him, laid my bow and quiver on the elk, took the tag out of my daypack and put it on the elk’s antlers. Then I took off running like I’d been struck by a bolt of lightning all the way back to camp and pounded on the door of our camper.
Because the weather had been so bad, my mom and dad had decided to stay inside until the weather broke. As soon as my dad opened the door, I said, “I got one.” Dad was so excited he tackled me, and we both fell out the door into the mud. Dad said, “You got a deer.” I said, “No, no, I killed an elk.” At that time in Arizona, you were more likely to see a deer than you were an elk. The elk numbers were very few in those days. Today, you're more likely to see a lot of elk and very-few deer.
I think my dad was more excited than I was. He hardly could believe that his 12-year-old son had taken his first elk with a bow. He asked, “Are you sure he’s dead?” I said, “Yes, sir. He's dead. I left my bow, my pack and my quiver on the elk and my tag on his antlers.” I was still excited and really not expecting the next question. “Where were you when you shot the elk?” Dad asked. I gave him this blank stare and answered, “I have no idea where I was. I've been running for the last 10 minutes to get back down the mountain to tell you I shot an elk. I don’t really know where I was.” Dad paused and said, “Do you remember any landmarks at all?” I thought for a minute and said, “I crossed a big road on top of the mountain.” So, Dad and I loaded up in the jeep and drove up the mountain until we found my tracks. Then Dad retraced my tracks, and they lead us right to the elk. Dad and I loaded up the elk and took him back to camp.
Mom and Dad didn’t even know I’d left the camper. I wanted to hunt so bad and get out in the woods early, regardless of the weather, that I hadn’t bothered to wake them up. I still get that excited every morning in elk camp. Back then I was shooing the old PSE Phaser. I never really realized how important that first elk hunt with me and my dad would be, or that this first hunt was the beginning of a lifetime of hunting elk with my dad.
I like Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, because the pattern seems to fit better in New Mexico where I do most of my hunting than other patterns. One minute you'll be in junipers, then you’ll start chasing an elk and be in the pines, you may be in fields and meadows, or other times, you'll be hunting in rocks and along sheer cliffs. I need a camo pattern that will break-up my silhouette and blend-in with the terrain I hunt. I don’t have the time, nor am I willing to carry the clothing to change from a rocky environment to a green meadow. Sometimes, I’ll be hunting in waist-deep snow. Other times, the weather will be 70-degrees plus. Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity seems to always fit into any environment where I hunt. Mossy Oak has been with me and my dad on all our elk hunts from the time Mossy Oak first came on the market. I shoot PSE bows, because they’re dependable. I've never had a PSE bow let me down in the field. I took my first elk when I was 12, and I've been hunting with PSE bows ever since.