12-year-old has good luck on first day hunting | PostIndependent.com

12-year-old has good luck on first day hunting

Submitted PhotoConnor Miller poses with the five-point bull elk he shot on his very first day of hunting.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Connor Miller’s first day was what most hunters don’t get even after a lifetime of hunting. Miller, 12, from Glenwood Springs, bagged a five-point bull elk on his first day hunting, on the first day – Oct. 21 – of the second elk season. Miller, a tall, lanky, dark-haired boy with a big smile, is carrying on a family tradition. His mom, Pamela Miller, said both her sons, Connor, and Colin, 14, were given rifles passed down through the family. Connor got a .243 Savage that belonged to his maternal grandmother, and Colin got a .250 Savage from his grandfather, Cliff Knapp.Connor, Knapp and two of Knapp’s friends set out to the Grand Mesa Oct. 21 to hunt elk. Knapp, who is retired from the Bureau of Land Management and who grew up hunting and fishing in Montana, wanted his grandsons to have the same experience. In fact, said Pamela Miller, Knapp got his first rifle from his father, a gun that had belonged to his grandfather.”It’s a big deal in our family,” Pamela said.The day of the hunt the men and the boy got up around 2 a.m. and set out for the mesa. They parked, then hiked for three miles, Connor said. “It was pretty darn cold.”Snow lingered under the oak brush, piñon and juniper. Knapp had been up there before and knew there were elk there.”We were walking, and just after the sun rose we saw a big old bull running through the trees,” Connor said. But it was too far away to shoot.Knapp scoped the slopes below them with his binoculars and saw more elk. They came up the ridge and crossed into a gully.”We stayed on the back side of the ridge so they couldn’t see us,” Connor said.Knapp told him if an elk appeared on their right it was Connor’s. Sure enough, they saw two bulls together, broadside to the hunters.Connor shot. He aimed for the shoulder as he’d been taught. Connor wanted to “get him in the vitals, to get a clear shot” that would drop him immediately. He shot, but the elk ran uphill. Connor took another shot, this time hitting him “in the guts.”The elk took off again but soon went down, fortunately about a quarter of a mile closer to the truck than he’d been when Connor took the first shot.Then came the hard part.”Since it was my first time Grandpa butchered it to show me how,” Connor said. They cut the 500-600 pound animal up and packed the meat in garbage bags, leaving the ribcage for the next day.It was a long hard slog back to the truck.That evening, Connor called home from Grandpa Knapp’s house. His mother answered, and Connor asked to speak to his brother.”I wanted to tell him he’d been out three or four years in a row and never saw anything,” Connor said. “I told Colin I got a five-point elk the first day out.”What he didn’t say but thought was, “I’m better than you at something, finally,” Connor said. For the 12-year-old, the whole trip was less about the kill than the experience. “I like hunting. I know I won’t get an elk every time. … That was pure luck,” he said.For his Mom, the trip was all about camaraderie.”They sure had a good time, and every junk food known to man,” she said. “What I love is he can go out with … these great guys, and I know it’s safe. It doesn’t get any better than that.”Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 16605dgray@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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