(Left) Darrell Peterson, Lancaster, Minn., poses with his elk that he shot up by Lancaster. Peterson was one of 13 elk hunting licenses issued in Minnesota. (Right) Isabel Pearson, 12 year old daughter of Jonathan and Rachel Pearson, Karlstad, Minn., poses with the elk she shot during the first elk hunting season. (Photos submitted)
Twelve-year old Isabel Pearson, a seventh grader at Tri-County School in Karlstad and 69 year old retired farmer Darrell Peterson of Lancaster seem equally thrilled about bagging large (6 x 6) elk near Lancaster during the first elk hunting season of 2017 which ran from Saturday, Sept. 9 – Sunday, Sept. 17. (A second season ran from Saturday, Oct. 7 to Sunday, Oct. 15).
Even though Peterson has hunted for his whole life and once shot an elk in Montana, he considers this elk hunt to have been the most exciting hunt of his life. “It’s a once in a lifetime deal,” he says, explaining that very few names are chosen in the state’s elk lottery and, once chosen, that hunter will not be allowed to enter his name again.
In telling of this recent hunt, he says he was driving around and saw the elk standing out in Brian Nelson’s field. He pulled into a crossing, shot twice at the elk, and watched it walk into a woods. Peterson and his son then located the dead elk about 50 yards into the woods. He says he shot it from about 300 yards.
He’s now enjoying elk steaks, which he barbecues, and neck roasts which he likes prepared in a slow cooker.
Peterson has not only hunted locally but also in other states. He hunts wild hogs almost every year in Oklahoma, ducks and geese in Arkansas, and ducks in Texas. He has hunted in Montana twice and shot his first elk in the east fork of the Bitterroot Valley, about one hundred miles from Missoula.
What are Peterson’s future hunting plans? “We’re going down south for some more hogs this winter,” he says.
While Isabel Pearson admits that all the attention she’s getting from shooting an elk can be a bit embarrassing, she seems eager and confident in talking about the feat. “We knew where we were going to hunt,” explains Pearson, adding that she and her dad, Jonathan Pearson, drove in the Lancaster area the Friday before the hunt where they spotted three bulls and a lot of cows.
On Saturday they were up “early, early” and arrived in the Lancaster area around 6 a.m. When they spotted elk on Frank Skappel’s land, Isabel was ready. She hit the bull, from about 500 yards, with a first shot. Second and third shots did not hit the animal. A fourth shot a while later killed the animal.
The Pearson Family has since been enjoying elk in their chili, meatballs, and burgers. “It’s actually good. It tastes kind of like beef,” explains Isabel.
“We’re a total hunting family,” states grandmother Marlene Pearson, who was on hand for an interview with Isabel. Though Marlene doesn’t claim any great hunting feats, she says, “I went hunting with my dad just to make him feel good.” She adds that her late husband, Claus, was a hunter and that Isabel’s mother’s family (the Robert and Janice Blazejewskis of Strandquist – daughter Rachel is Isabel’s mom) are hunters. Isabel’s dad owns Bear Buster Outfitters in Karlstad.
Isabel shows a small plastic box with souvenirs of the hunt (the gloves she used when taking some blood samples for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), elk teeth which she will use for making jewelry, and bullets).
Does she have any advice for other hunters? “Be patient and know what’s ahead of you and what you need to do,” she responds.
What are her hunting plans for the future? “I want to get a bear,” Isabel responds without hesitation.
Darrell Peterson’s and Isabel Pearson’s elk hunting experiences of 2017 will certainly remain highlights of their lives. According to Ruth Anne Franke, area wildlife supervisor at the DNR in Karlstad, only 13 of 1700 applicants received elk hunting licenses this year in Minnesota.
An online publication of the Minnesota DNR (http://news.dnr.state.mn.us/2017/05/15/apply-to-hunt-elk-in-minnesota/) provides information on the reason for allowing elk hunting in Minnesota and the locations where hunting was permitted this year. Quoting Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader, it states, “We have native elk herds and managing them involves balancing the benefit they provide to all Minnesotans with the damage these large animals do to fences and crops.” The publication further states that two zones (central-zone 20 and northeast-zone 30) in Kittson County would be open for elk hunting. Such hunting would not be permitted this year in the Grygla area “because that area’s elk population is below the population goal level outlined in the elk management plan.”
Darrell Peterson and Isabel Pearson with an elk