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John Sethre, age 87 – Uncle to Gary McCarty
Gary McCarty, age 73 – Gordie McCarty and Annette McCarty/Abraham’s (Erik’s mother) father
Gordie McCarty, age 45 – Gary’s son, organizer of the expedition
Erik Abraham, age 13 – Gary’s grandson, son of Annette
JT Abraham, age 46 – Erik’s father, spouse of Annette
Mike – Guide
Steve – Guide
Austin – Chief Guide, hunt organizer
Amanda – Cook and Mike’s wife of one month
Lori – Cook
Editor’s note: John Sethre, 87 years young, a long-time resident of Diamond Springs amd occasional contributor to the Mountain Democrat’s Letters to the Editor page, recently participated in a successful hunt with four generations of his extended family: nephew Gary McCarty, 73; Gary’s son Gordie McCarty, 45; and Gary’s grandson Erik Abraham, 13. Erik’s dad JT, married to Gary’s daughter Annette, accompanied the group as the photographer. Gary shared with the Democrat his first-person account of the early October trip; the first part which begins below followed by the second installment to run Friday.
Gordie suggested the idea of a four generation hunting trip about three years before the event. He felt that Erik would jump at the chance as he loves to hunt and he was at the right age to do the hunt. Gordie also wanted to make sure that the older members of the hunt would feel up to the rigors.
Gordie was able to get John and Gary together to plan the trip; the three of them attended a Sportsman’s Show in Sacramento in January 2011. There were many outfitters at the show offering elk hunts; most of the outfitters approached would take the group into the hunting area using horses, hauling in the necessary supplies/gear and setting up a tent with facilities for cooking and sleeping. Outfitters from Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Idaho were interviewed.
The plan came together when Gordie spotted an outfitter advertising a guaranteed elk hunt. Austin Atkinson was the spokesman for the outfitter called White Peaks Ranch in Utah. He explained that the ranch operated in Idaho and Utah and showed us pictures of the facilities.
Austin told us that we’d have our own beds, bathrooms, open bar, prepared food and a lodge with an HD television. Gordie asked how the hunters got to the hunting grounds. Austin said that access was via Polaris. Gordie then said that he was sold on White Peaks Ranch if “Polaris” was not a horse.
John, Gary and Gordie settled on White Peaks Ranch as the recommended location; a hunt was tentatively scheduled for early October. Gary contacted Erik’s parents to see if they would support the idea and they gave a very enthusiastic ‘yes.’
A few days later, Gary and Svea (Gary’s wife) attended another Sportsman’s Show in Puyallup, Wash., where we knew White Peaks Ranch would have a booth. Austin confirmed what we had heard in Sacramento and we signed up. The hunt was on.
On Oct. 4, the hunters drove from Peoia, Ariz. to White Peaks Ranch, located south of Willard, Utah accompanied by JT, Erik’s father who came along to photograph the adventure. The group was shown sleeping accommodations and the other facilities.
The lodge was impressive with trophies of a large elk and a deer in the lounging area which included a large HD television. A fully stocked bar sat between the dining area and the lounging area. All kinds of snacks, sodas, fruit, water, etc. were available, to which the hunters were urged to help themselves. A large kitchen was through the door was manned by Amanda and Lori who were both friendly and helpful.
Before the morning hunt, a do-it-yourself continental breakfast was the order of the day. After each morning hunt, a huge breakfast was served with several varied offerings. After each evening hunt, which sometimes lasted quite late, the ladies served another delicious meal with at least two main entrées.
On the morning of Oct. 5, all of us piled into the Ford 350 diesel flatbed truck driven by the Mike (guide) to head for the elk. When we came to a water hole, there was a beautiful elk; it looked like a six by six. We were tempted but decided to let that one go.
We drove on and parked near a rocky ridge. Off in the distance there were five big elk; one of the elk had a horn completely broken off. Since Gary was not interested in a trophy elk, he decided to try and bag the elk subsequently called a unicorn by Erik. Mike and Gary proceeded toward a gully which allowed them to approach the elk without being seen.
Approaching to about 175 yards, Gary took a shot; it was a miss. Gary’s excuse was that he was wobbly from the hike up the gully.
On the evening of Oct. 5, John, Erik, JT and Mike (Group A) drove down to the lower area and began hunting there. Gordie, Gary and Steve (Group B) along with Austin hiked to a higher area following a trial through the brush.
The hunters in Group B broke out of the brush above a deep wallow. About 200 yards below, five elk were in the area. One of the elk began jumping up and down in the wallow creating a funny scene and major splashing. At about the same time, another elk which had been submerged came charging out of the wallow. The elk then headed in the direction of Group A and a little later there was a serious of shots.
In Group A, John, Erik, JT and Mike began hiking toward the vantage point that Mike had selected. During the hike up a steep incline John slipped and fell tumbling down the slope; JT ran to check on John who said he was alright — just some scrapes and worst yet, some dings on his gun. Just then, the group spotted the elk coming from the wallow.
The elk continued to walk toward the group as they were only concerned about group B and had not become aware of Group A. When they got within 100 yards, Mike made a call and the elk stopped. Erik then took his first shot and hit the elk hard. Mike advised Erik to try a neck shot which hit the elk in the nose. The elk began running; Erik took another shot and missed. Erik took one more shot at about 35 yards and knocked the bull down. Erik, the youngest, had his trophy.
Group B came down for the photo session and to congratulate Erik. Mike then showed Erik how to field dress an elk; he dived right in with no apprehension. It’s worth noting that John overcame the trauma of his fall when Amanda and Lori presented him with a bottle of Crown Roya when he arrived back at the lodge.
Friday’s conclusion: Sethre’s trophy elk, more elk and a buffalo.