Fairfax, Virginia - Don Smith has been hunting for a while. Standing a good 6' 8", he can be quite the imposing figure in the woods. Heck, he's a pretty imposing figure anywhere. But his imposing size is dwarfed in comparison to the elk he brought home from Idaho last year.
"I didn't really bring it home last year," said Smith. "I shot it last year. I just brought it home about a week ago."
We first met Don while he was working with Northwest Territorial Mint. Also a regular at the MidwayUSA/NRA Bianchi Cup, Don was our main point of contact whenever we were in need of a new challenge coin. Now with ADS, he took a little time out in October for a hunting trip out west.
"Sherry (his wife) and I headed out to Island Park, Idaho," said Smith. "Had a new DPMS 338 rifle that I wanted to try. First time with the DPMS, first time in Idaho and my first elk. It all came together perfectly."
As most hunters will tell you, shooting the elk is the easy part. Getting it home is when the difficulties begin. Do you clean and gut it in the field or wait until you transport it back to camp? How do you get it back to camp? What do you do with the meat ... eat a portion, distribute a portion to the locals or ship it all home? And finally, are you going to mount it?
"I knew it was going on the wall. I just wasn't sure how to get it there."
That can be quite the challenge when you're talking about an 8x8 elk. But Don was prepared. Lining up a trusted taxidermist, the biggest challenge appeared to be waiting for the mount to be completed. That is until the delivery arrived.
"I had it shipped to my old office in Alexandria," Smith smiled. "Pulled up in the F250 ... wasn't sure it would fit at first. And the looks I got."
People waved from the sidewalks, beeped their horns in the streets and took pictures with their cell phones. And why wouldn't they? After all, it's not as if you see elks wandering around the DC Metro area all that much. Especially when riding in the back of a truck.
Now it's finally home. Seven months after that rifle shot and it's finally on the wall.
"There's not much room for anything else, but we'll make do."
Given the years of experience he has navigating the obstacles surrounding his own height, making do will probably be just fine.