By Anna Jauhola
In Section 28 of Poppleton Township, the youngest-ever elk hunter in the state of Minnesota shot a huge bull — all to his great surprise.
Parker Christopherson, 11, shot an 8-by-9 bull elk on Sunday, Sept. 11. He estimates the animal weighed 800 pounds and an unofficial scoring of the rack is at 350. He dropped the bull with two shots at about 100 yards. But the excitement started long before the actual hunt.
He has received surprise after surprise since he received a letter from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that his name was drawn for an either sex elk tag. The sixth-grader applied for the tag when he realized hunters can apply as young as 10.
“I didn’t know you could apply that young, so I figured I’d just apply. I didn’t expect anything,” he said.
He saw his name on the letter and couldn’t believe it. Neither could his dad, Josh Carr, who has been applying for tags for years. Despite that, Carr excitedly texted his son when he found out.
“He kept texting me, ‘Sweet! Sweet! Sweet!’ He was really surprised and excited,” Christopherson said.
Then came the planning and prep. Christopherson practiced with a .30-06 caliber rifle and scouted for elk. Christopherson recalled as he practiced with the rifle that the weapon was heavy with a lot of kick.
“But when I was out there, it felt just like a BB gun. There was too much adrenaline,” he said.
He and his dad were out and spotted a nice bull on land owned by his friend Cooper Swenson’s family. They asked permission to sit there and started tracking it through pictures on trail cameras.
The first day they could hunt was Saturday, Sept. 10. Carr and Christopherson heard bugling as they sat in the early morning and through the afternoon, but no animals came within sight. So, Sunday morning, Sept. 11 they went back out to Section 28 in Poppleton Township. Between noon and 3:30 p.m., Christopherson had his big chance.
“We saw him and said, ‘Switch chairs! Switch chairs!’ We were trying to be quiet about it,” Christopherson said. “I caught the bull in the one window and he walked back to the north. I thought maybe he smelled me. But then he walked back right in front of me. I took a shot at him.”
That first shot went through the beast’s lungs but he did not drop. So Carr encouraged Christopherson to take another shot, which he did and the bullet went through the top of the elk’s heart.
“He ran about 15 yards and he dropped,” Christopherson said. “I handed the rifle to my dad and screamed, ‘I gotta call Mom!’”
“I was in tears,” said Whitney Carr, Christopherson’s mom. “He was so proud. I’m proud! We are all so proud of him. Your dad, grandpa, uncles and brothers. Everyone is so proud of you.”
The entire extended family came to the kill site and celebrated with Christopherson on his fine shot. His brothers, Easton and Colton, were so excited, he said.
They sat on the bull and everyone took pictures. They butchered the animal themselves and the 8-by-9 rack currently sits in a place of honor in their garage — only because it’s too big to fit through the doors into the house.
So what’s next for this young hunter? An elk tag is a once-in-a-lifetime draw and hunt for Minnesota residents. Although this was a serious high point for Christopherson, he said he’s looking forward to hunting with Carr and hopefully seeing him get his own elk tag one day.
By Anna Jauhola