The location was new, the animal was one he'd never hunted before.
But Gary Martin of Yorkville, Wis., had his bow in his hand and 25 years of experience under his belt.
"I think it's time for a stalk," said Martin, responding to rancher Nolan Twissleman's question of what to do.
It was July 29, the second day of Martin's hunt for tule elk on Twissleman's ranch near San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Though the elk were bugling, they had yet to come to Martin's calls. So with the tawny California hills all around, Martin struck out on foot toward a fine bull he'd spotted in the distance.
Hours later, with sweat dripping from his brow in the 90-degree heat and his heart beating "900 miles an hour" from the excitement of approaching his quarry, Martin eased a few last feet into position and drew his bow.
The shot found its mark, and within minutes he was fixing his tag to a 6-by-6 bull.
With the kill, Martin had accomplished his quest to take all 29 North American big-game animals with bow and arrow. Although there is no official list keeper at this time, Martin is considered the eighth bow hunter to accomplish the feat, known as the "Super Slam."
"The things that have driven me most are the experiences I've gained, the friends I've made and the conservation good that hunting does for wildlife," said Martin, 56.
He celebrated the last on the list by sharing a fresh tule elk tenderloin dinner with Twissleman.
"It's been a long stretch now," Martin said. "But I can recall the camaraderie of every hunt."
Martin comes from a line of archers and bowhunters. His grandfather Frank Martin owned an archery shop in Racine, Wis., taught archery at area schools and was a hunting companion of Roy Case, the first hunter to take a deer in a modern Wisconsin bowhunting season.
His father, Conrad, is an avid hunter who has encouraged Gary all along.
Though Martin took his first deer with a bow at age 19, he didn't begin to think seriously of pursuing the "Super Slam" until he was in his 30s.
Eventually Martin, who has worked as a technologist for the last 31 years at S.C. Johnson in Sturtevant, Wis., began to devote all of his vacation to hunting from Mexico to Canada and all spots in between.
He had actually hit his mark two years ago when Pope and Young, the official record keeping organization for bowhunting, added the tule elk to its list of North American big game animals.
The list includes deer, bear, caribou, even musk ox.
Tule elk were once threatened but have since recovered, thanks in part to relocation programs funded by hunters.
They are big-bodied animals, similar to the more common Rocky Mountain elk, said Martin, but with slightly less antler growth.
Martin thinks the tule elk he shot will score about 250 inches, well in excess of the Pope and Young minimum for the species.
"My dad is 80 this year," said Martin. "I'm really looking forward to hunting with him in Wisconsin this fall."