In the outdoor fraternity of big-game hunting, often considered a man's domain, Lanie Elliott is the exception. Being a Payson High School cheerleader, an honor roll student and very active in school affairs, Lanie made time for her youth deer hunt in unit 23.
She has been on other hunts with family members, but this was her first deer and will set a high standard for future hunts.
Lanie was accompanied by her stepfather, Dean Pederson, and their friend, Norm Langeliers. Both of these guys have had years of experience behind spotting scopes looking for big game.
By the way, Norm was the brunt of some good-natured ribbing this past season when his tripod fell over and the noise actually rattled in a large desert buck. He gained the nickname, Tripodless Langeliers, from this misadventure.
After an early morning walk, Lanie was on a ridge, a canyon lay between her and the nearest road, which is usually a safe distance not to be bothered by noises made by other hunters.
They spotted a group of six bucks that eventually bedded down. So, they made a stalk within 200 yards in hopes of getting an opportunity for a shot.
Much to their surprise, the noise from a quad on the distant road caused these deer to get up and run out of sight over the next ridge. Believe it or not, this happened a second time that evening when more deer were spotted.
Day two meant a change in strategy by leaving earlier and walking with flashlights into an area where there was no quad access. This paid big dividends, because there was a greater number of deer and Lanie made a 350-yard shot on this fine four-point mule deer and a real trophy.
She is anticipating future big game hunts in Arizona.
The youth hunt program, sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is an excellent way to get young people involved in the outdoor experience and hunting. This weekend, take a family hike and enjoy the fall colors in God's creation.