Oct 12, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
I was part of a prize package recently. In a charity sweepstakes organized by Dream Giveaways of United Charities International, one of the prizes was an all-expense paid elk hunt in the company of … Bill Miller. That’s how I came to meet 21-year-old college student Christian Marshal of Lafayette, Louisana and his dad Randy. Christian one the hunt by responding to an in-box offer he received with a Cabela’s order.
Christian’s total prize package included the all-expense paid elk hunt with R&K Hunting Company at their South Fork Ranch near Coalville, Utah; a Ruger rifle; a Leupold scope; and … well … me.
It turned out to be an incredible hunt and experience for Christian, and for me. Though I wasn’t carrying a gun or bow on this trip, I got to do one of my favorite things … experience hunting, once again, through the eyes and emotions of a first time hunter. Christian’s view of elk hunting was pretty much a blank canvas. He had lots of questions, which was great! I’m happy to report that Christian got the real elk hunting experience with R&K guide Jason Winters.
We spotted Christian’s bull late in the afternoon on the second day of the hunt. It was slightly less than a mile across a wide, steep heavily timbered canyon. About the time I said, “Hey, there’s a bull,” the observation was punctuated by a peal of thunder from an approaching mountain storm. I turned my spotting scope over to Jason and Christian who agreed it was one worth going after.
They decided we should return to the Polaris Ranger, and use it to reposition on the small herd to get the wind in our favor and approach them from above. So our group quickly hiked back to the rim of the canyon and took the ride of a few miles to get around, behind the elk. On the way we were exposed on the top of the ridge and could see the storm approaching. Lightning was flashing closer all the time, and we all wanted to be off that ridge as quickly as possible.
We parked well short of where we thought the animals were, and dropped down into the canyon again. Randy and I hung well back behind Christian and Jason. We saw them stop several hundred yards ahead of us and glass the area for a good long time. In the meantime it started raining … harder and harder.
Something made Jason turn around and glass the opposite side of the canyon below where we’d been spotting. And, of course, there were our elk! They were headed almost right to where we had been.
Jason made a quick calculation of the amount of time we had before dark. He figured about an hour fifteen, an hour and a half … max. They could probably catch up to the elk with time to make a shot before dark … as long as they didn’t have to drag the oldtimers with them. So we were sent back to the Polaris … to wait! Christian and Jason bailed over the steep side of the canyon to follow the elk.
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