“Call” is defined as “a strong inner impulse towards a particular course of action, especially when accompanied by the conviction of divine influence”. Sometimes in life you meet someone who you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is following their calling. Their actions and their passion make it clear that they listened to the exhortations with a persistent inner voice, a voice telling them to act.

I have been fortunate in my life to meet many of these people and even more fortunate to call some of the friends and mentors. Of all the key lessons and insights I’ve learned from it, none are more important than this: When that inner voice speaks, listen to it and live it.

Last week, I had the privilege of spending time with a father-son duo of Mississippi bow hunters who have lived together their vocation for over two decades of elk hunting in the majestic Rocky Mountains.

Spend a few minutes talking with Phil and Slade Fancher of Louisville, and their passion for bow hunting – and more specifically, bow hunting for elk – quickly becomes evident. In fact, it seems to be part of their DNA.

“For us, it’s a way of life. That’s what we’re doing in September, ”said Phil. This is exactly what they have been doing together for 26 years; however, for Elder Fancher, the call to hunt elk in the Rockies dates back to 1978 and the desire to hunt as a child.

“I was hunting alone in Yockanookany Swamp when I was 9 or 10,” Phil said. In this sense, the “call” to the outdoors has always been a part of Fancher’s life. “My entire hunting career, from squirrels and turkeys to deer, elk, caribou and whatever it is, God seems to have got my hands on it.”

By the way, Fancher is in a good position to talk about the spiritual aspects of his calling, having also answered another call – to the pulpit. He served for over 11 years as a full-time pastor at the Antioch Baptist Church between Louisville and Starkville and has preached for 30 years.

Fancher, who is also a pharmacist, told me that the call to preach actually interrupted his plans to enter the professional archery ranks. He was convinced he had what it took to make a living from archery and planned to do so. A higher calling changed those plans.

Throughout these life-changing events, one thing has remained constant: elk hunting. At 72, Fancher, a stroke survivor, is still doing well and has no plans to stop elk hunting anytime soon.

“God has been such a merciful God to me. At my age and still able (to hunt) and then having Slade with me is a blessing. His passion runs as deep as mine, and how many men with a son can say they’ve hunted together for so long for so long? It is one of the greatest blessings of my life, ”said Fancher.

The two have agreed that the West is a special place, a place that puts you in the blood.

“It’s right where you’re supposed to be,” Slade said. “If you are an outdoor enthusiast and can hunt and fish, you have to get out. “

They also insisted that the dream of hunting elk with a bow is quite achievable, but dedication and clear expectations are both essential parts of any successful expedition. Phil’s advice to those who want to make their elk hunting quest in the Rockies a reality is, just like the man himself, very simple: just focus on preparing for the trip and enjoy it.

“If you only want to shoot a big bull moose, stay home, but if you’re going to have an amazing time, see things you’ve never seen, and learn something about the Rocky Mountains, you’ll have a great time. moment, “he said.

Slade added that a do-it-yourself trip is very easy to accomplish. In fact, this is the only type of trip they take.

“We never used an outfitter. We never had a guide. We never packed an elk with horses or asked anyone to wrap our meat for us. We are totally do-it-yourselfers, ”he said.

The two Mississippi hunters killed huge bulls on their trip to New Mexico earlier this month, and I enjoyed following their adventures through Slade’s YouTube channel “Follow The Fanchers” and his Instagram @followthefanchers.

Take the time this week to listen to that inner voice, passionately follow your call, and until next time I look forward to seeing you out there in our great outdoors.

Email outside columnist Brad Dye at [email protected]