Archive for the Friends and Family Category

A Moose named Malcom

Posted in Big Game, Friends and Family, Moose, North America on March 20, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

My in-laws recently sold their cabin.  We have many wonderful family memories from the cabin including, of course, wildlife.  The canyon that held the cabin was full of Shiras Moose.  One of North America’s great ungulates, Shiras Moose are the smallest of all Moose species.  As you will see in the photo, there is nothing small about these creatures

This giant bull was nicknamed, Malcom.  We enjoyed watching this old boy most of the summer and into the fall.

This old boy often hung out in the front of the cabin, as demonstrated by this great photo.

My wife is watching Malcom from the front porch.  What a beautiful photo of a moose in velvet.

Forgive the fuzzy photo.  But this cow and calf could often be seen in the same area as Malcom.  We like to think this calf was sired by ol’ Malcom.

An interesting announcement

Posted in Friends and Family on March 17, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

Sportsmen For Fish and Wildlife (SFW) has taken another step forward in building out their efforts to have a major presence in wildlife conservation and hunting and fishing preservation in the Western part of North America by hiring Ryan Benson as a new senior business development and legal consultant.  The opportunity to hire Ryan came from a tremendous six figure donation from one of SFW Founding Board members, whose desire to see SFW continue to grow is yet another example of SFW members stepping up when needed. 

Ryan first and foremost is an avid and passionate hunter who grew up in humble circumstances and spent his days hunting on the West’s general season public land units.  On a recent day off from his patent law firm duties, Ryan came to his job interview with muddy boots having just finished a coyote hunt with his young sons. 

Mr. Benson graduated with a degree in Political Science from BYU, and then worked for a year as the legislative coordinator for the Utah Attorney General’s office.  He then worked in Washington DC with the staff of US Senator Robert Bennett’s Natural Resource committee, and went from there to Boston, where he earned his Law Degree from Harvard University. 

Since graduating from Harvard, Ryan has built a very successful law practice in Patent Law and also business mergers and acquisitions throughout the western US.  His most recent deal was the patent work and closing of the sale of Barnes Bullets to the Freedom Group. 

Byron Bateman, SFW President said, “Ryan’s willingness to leave a very successful business practice and give up millions in current and future earnings to work for conservation speaks volumes about his passion and commitment to protecting the future of hunting for current and future generations.”  Ryan Foutz, SFW VP of Marketing said, “SFW has been understaffed and has relentlessly focused our resources on restoring habitats, and producing abundant game herds.  Benson will bring the ability to polish and perfect the way SFW does business and communicate our conservation mission to decision makers, sponsors, our members and help us better connect with the new internet generation.” 

Don Peay Founder of SFW said, “we have searched from Alaska to Arizona to find a person with Ryan’s passion for conservation and hunting, and a very unique skill set to take SFW to the next level.”  Peay also said, “there is no question in my mind Benson will help complete SFW’s western North American Conservation infrastructure, and in future years will lead SFW into the international conservation arena.  Ryan is a global thinker, and even at a young age, from his Harvard law contacts he has a rolodex full of top business leaders around the world.” 

Ryan’s first duty will be to lead the SFW effort to have a legal and political solution, if Federal Judges rule the wrong way, and place wolves back on the Endangered Species List.  The SFW Board has determined the wildlife herds of the west have suffered enough, if the courts can’t figure it out soon, Congress needs to step in and solve this problem by restoring the states’ rights to protect our ungulate herds and the multi-billion dollar hunting industry that is suffering tremendous long term damage by un-managed wolf populations in the west and the upper mid west regions.  Benson will also be tasked to help in SFW fundraising, public relations, legislative and legal considerations and organizational structure matters. 

Mr. Benson said, “the SFW members, sponsors and staff have laid a tremendous foundation for land and wildlife conservation in Utah, the Western States and Alaska.  I am honored to join an outstanding SFW team which is driven by measureable results of thousands of restored habitat acres and substantial increases in animal numbers.   Hunting is a passion for me and my young children.  It is worth fighting for our way of life and our heritage in the West.”


Randy and Coni Brooks, owners of Barnes Bullets, who stepped up with the most generous contribution to SFW to allow SFW to hire such a high quality person said, “Ryan is the perfect fit for SFW.  He is polished, passionate about hunting and conservation, and comes across in a very unassuming manner.  However, we saw first-hand, when it comes to crunch time, just like SFW he is willing to step into a hornet’s nest and deliver a victory for his team.” 

SFW is one of the most effective conservation sportsmen groups in the Western united states and focuses on land and wildlife conservation results for elk, mule deer, bison, moose, wild sheep, mountain goats, antelope, chukar, wild turkey and fisheries including efforts to restore abundant Halibut and Salmon fisheries in Alaska.  SFW has state run chapters in AZ, NM, UT, WY, ID, NV, and Alaska, with sportsmen from Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and other states and provinces requesting help in building the wildly successful SFW model in their states soon.

Hunting the “Other” Island

Posted in Friends and Family on March 9, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

A few weeks ago, I went hunting with my boys on one of the coolest places on earth.  Rocky, mountainous and largely unexplored.  And all just a short 45 minute drive from 2 million people. Stansbury Island on the Great Salt Lake is not nearly as famous or as visited as its sister Island the famous Antelope Island. Stansbury Island can seem largely inaccessible due to the fact that most of the Island is privately owned.  But if you use the Island’s central access easement and are willing to pound the shoe leather, you will find yourself in some truly beautiful country.

While our coyote calling skills were definitely lacking, we did find a couple of bunnies that were promptly dispatched by the boys.

Cave discovered on the Islands Eastern facing extremity.  Not far from here is a 200 foot sheer drop.

This coyote den was dug into one of the few soft slopes on the mountain.

The rolling fog which filtered through the cliffs most of the day obscured any sign of civilization.  It was almost as if we had suddenly been transported to wild sheep country in some deserted corner of the world.  My daydreaming unfortunately didn’t last long.  Shortly after this photo we saw a herd of black angus on the slope below.

My Dream Hunt-African Greater Kudu

Posted in Africa, Big Game, Friends and Family, International Hunting Adventures, Plainsgame on February 25, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

2009 was the 100th anniversary of Teddy Roosevelt’s historic African Safari.  One of America’s greatest presidents, Teddy Roosevelt was also an inspired leader in wildlife conservation.  A year end bonus from my law firm gave me a bit of spending dough.  After paying off some bills, I asked my wife if we could do our own modest version of the Teddy Roosevelt Safari. 

This meant something to me.  Teddy Roosevelt was not only a die hard hunter and conservationist, he was also Harvard Educated.  I graduated from Harvard Law School in 2001.  Like Teddy Roosevelt, I also share the passion for the outdoors, conservation and hunting.  For me, following Roosevelt to the Dark Continent was a sort of a pilrimage.  I was happy to learn that while an elephant or cape buffalo were out of price range, a person can do a fairly nice plainsgame package for not a lot of scratch.  At the top of my list was the greater Kudu.  I found an outfitter with an impressive 100% harvest rate on monster greater kudu, including many in the 50 inch range and even a world glass 60 plus inch which ranks top 5.  His base package included my #2 plainsgame trophy gemsbok along with an impala and a warthog.  All for less than a good guided mule deer hunt.   We booked the hunt last minute and were on the ground in Africa a scant 6 weeks later. 

This was easily the hardest animal to harvest on the Safari.  Free range, rough country and dry weather.  We saw a good number of kudu.  Even captured some on film.  But either the animals were not trophy class animals, or they saw us before we saw them.  Nicknamed the gray ghost, the enormous antelope can disappear faster without a whisper.

After lunch we switched to the land owner’s Land Rover-one fine piece of machinery if you ask me.

The afternoon we missed a couple of quick-shot opportunities.  The PH would say, “shoot that one.”  But after being warned repeatedly not to kill a female kudu (like the hunter from the previous week.)  I wasn’t about to shoot until I was sure that we were looking at the same animal.  Opportunities missed only add to the excitement and sense of expecation if you ask me.

Shortly before dusk we saw two big bulls fighting in a meadow.  They quickly disappeared into the thicket.  When I finally located the big bulls as they moved through the thicked, I found a sliver of an opening through the trees.  With my PH telling me to shoot, I was able to connect on one of the bulls. 

You can see that the tips of these massive spiral horns arc outwards.  I am told that only 1 in 20 greater kudu have this horn configuration with of most bulls curving inward (see photo above.)  What a beautiful animal.  I can hardly wait for the mount to arrive so we can enjoy this beautiful animals for many years to come.

Trip to the Backcountry

Posted in Deer, Friends and Family, North America, Ungulates on February 20, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

My backcountry bowhunting trip is without a doubt, the trip I look forward to the most every year.

I go solo.  5-7 days with a pack on my back.  The area I hunt is a 4 hour trip one way and 4500 vertical feet of up and down.  Sleeping in a bivy on a narrow game trail keeps it light.  I simply can’t find another way to do it.  There are some great animals, but it is harsh terrain.  Two years ago I almost killed the mule deer buck of a lifetime. 

I spotted this monster buck down in a deep basin. 3 hours later I was guessing a bit, but thought I was within 40 yards of his hiding place.  I popped over the narrow ridge between myself and where he had been all morning.  I looked down the ridge to where I thought he was holed up.  Perfectly upwind, the greuling stalk had gone exactly as planned.  But he wasn’t there.  Had he found a secondary escape route?  I had the rest of the basin to my open view and I was sure that he and his 4 buddies had not left their spot.  That was when I heard the snort-wheeze.

I was within 40 yards of the big buck, but while I was circling to the other side of the basin behind the bucks, I had gotten a bit disoriented.  I had come in 40 yards below and downwind of the 5 bucks (all 4 points or larger.)  They were in the process of blowing out of the country.  I was able to snap a few photos at about 150-200 yards.  That was the last I saw of those bucks all week.

Later that week I was able to get my arrow into something much larger.  But that is a story for another day.

Big Game?

Posted in Africa, Friends and Family, International, Plainsgame on February 19, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

For some reason I have always loved small antelope species.  During my 2009 pilgrimage to Africa, I really wanted to harvest a Steenbok.  As I negotiated my package cost and the budget of the trip with my wife, we discussed the reasons I wanted to harvest each animal.  She finally agreed that a zebra should be part of the package.  I agreed to give up my warthog and steenbok.  On the third day of the hunt, it happened.

We spotted a really good steenbok while riding back to the lodge.  We stopped the truck and had a conversation with myself, our PH and my sweetheart.  It went something like this.  “That is a record book steenbok.”  “How big?”  “Best we’ve seen in a few hunts.”  “Can I shoot it?”  “No!” “Man, I really want to shoot that Steenbok”  “It is not going to just sit there while you make up your mind” “I’m going to shoot it.”  “Then why did you even ask me?”  “Boom”  “Great, I thought we had a deal.”  “I just couldn’t pass it up babe, sorry.” 

Let’s define “a really good buck.”  I was told that 8 inches total will get you into the record book.  The 8 inches is calculated by adding the length of both horns to the circumference of each horn.  Honestly, I haven’t checked to see if that is the case.  What I do know was that we had seen a few steenbok and this dude had good length and much better mass than anything else we had seen.  He ended up measuring (I say this a bit tounge in cheek)- a whopping 10 inches total.  Each horn was just over 4 inches with a very respectable 1 inch of mass for each horn.  At the end of the day, I really didn’t care that much about the measurement.  The biggest thing was just enjoying the harvest of that little steenbok that I had wanted since I had booked the hunt.   By the way, it was delicious.

Cary Valerio-My Dream Hunts Winner

Posted in Big Game, Elk, Friends and Family, Guides and Outfitters, North America, Other cool stuff, Outdoor Products and Services with tags on January 29, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

I just got off the phone with a buddy Cary Valerio.  He signed up for My Dream Hunts as a referral from The Great White Hunter A couple of Months ago.  I just learned that he just won a $5000 elk hunt with Eagle Spirit Outfitters in Colorado.  Congratulations Cary!

Here is the email I Cary sent me: 

Ryan,  I just wanted to thank you for introducing me to After just a few months of waiting, I just received notification that I won!!  I won a 5 day fully guided Elk Hunt in NW Colorado.. I just spoke with the guide yesterday afternoon, and everything is set up!!  I can’t believe it.. I’ve never won anything before.. Thanks for introducing me to this wonderful website.. I will now let everyone I know in on this un-believeable secret. And, since I’m so lucky, maybe I’d better go to VEGAS before my luck runs out. Thanks again Ryan.

Cary Valerio

South African Impala

Posted in Africa, Big Game, Friends and Family, International, Plainsgame with tags on January 28, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

An unexpected challenge, impala was giving me fits during my hunt last year in South Africa.  I had hunted hard for three days, without a single shot fired.

On the second day of the hunt, all three of the other hunters in camp had harvested an impala.  The most plentiful game animal in South Africa, there are an estimated 40 to 50 million impala in South Africa alone.  I was nonetheless excited about the prospect of harvesting a record book ram.  We had seen hundreds of impala, including several good rams over the three days.  However, a good shot had not presented itself.

Our hunt was taking place in the middle of the roar, breeding season for these sleek and wary animals.  The roar of a ram impala sounds much like a leapord roar.  Loud and agressive their call seemed such a stark contrast to their appearance, after three days I still was not used to the irony of the males’ call. Their call is only matched in their agressiveness as we saw countless younger males challenged with their life by the older males.  Perhaps the only animal I have seen fight so viciously is whitetail deer in North America.  Perhaps a result of their abundance, I couldn’t help ask myself why we couldn’t seem to close the deal on a trophy class impala. 

On the third day of impala hunting, we finally tried a property that had not been hunted as consistently.  After perhaps only an hour on the property, an impressive impala stepped into view at 150 yards.  A perfect opportunity, if we could only get the ram to step clear of his compadres.  That was when the fever kicked in.  I started getting wobbly and couldn’t slow my breathing.  I will never tire of the adrenaline rush of hunting.  But the timing was not good.  I tried to calm myself as I slowly squeezed off a shot.  I instantly knew it was a clean miss.  Careful checking verified what I had suspected. 

So I gathered my pride and followed my PH in the direction of more mating calls about a mile into the bush.  It was like trying to follow a flock of birds through the forest.  As soon as we would get close, they would move out of range and behind more thorn bush.  Finally, we zeroed in on a second group of impala that we could see through a thicket of trees.  No more than 50 yards away, not only did we not have a clear shot, but the group did not hold a single mature male.  What we had failed to noticed was an old ram sneaking in on the herd from behind us.  Suddenly, Pieter turned and whispered an emphatic “shoot that one.”  I turned to see an great ram 25 yards behind us in the trees and closing fast.  I waited for him to step into a shooting window and fired a shot into the shoulder. A short and anxious tracking job, a fabulous record book animal and one exited hunter.  Perhaps one of the most elegant of all african shoulder mounts, Jennifer can’t wait to add this one to the collection.

Turkey Day 2008

Posted in Friends and Family, Turkey with tags on November 26, 2009 by thegreatwhitehunter

Last year on Thansgiving these wild turkeys walked through our backyard.  First and last time that we have seen wild turkey in our yard.  My 12 year-old Zach spotted them first.  Fortunately, we were able to get some great photos.  Wishing all followers of the Great White Hunter a great Thanksgiving .


Posted in Africa, Big Game, Friends and Family, International, Plainsgame with tags on November 14, 2009 by thegreatwhitehunter

A few of you have been asking for more of my African animals.  Here is a photo of the Gemsbok I harvested.  While we were not in an area that is considered a trophy area for Gemsbok, I was more than thrilled with the harvest of this beautiful animal.

After close calls on several animals earlier in the day, we went home for lunch empty handed.  In fact, I had hesitated on killing the herd bull, a real beauty.  When I finally was ready to pull the trigger, he took off.  I was kicking myself all during lunch.

After lunch we crossed three gemsbok on the road.  We hoped out of the Landrover just as they disappeared into the brush.  This wasn’t the first time we had lost a herd in the tangle of thorn trees.  A tracking job and some educated guessing from our PH and we were soon on these animals again.  When we found them they were moving away and already over 250 yards away.  Some of the most incredible video footage from our hunt is the three gemsbok  on the run, with their tails swooshing back and forth in the afternoon sun.  Simply unforgetable.

 We ran back to the range rover and moved over two miles in the hopes of intercepting the three animals.  We spotted the gemsbok again, this time at over 1,000 yards.  But they were moving our way.  The stalk was on.  We soon closed the distance and set-up the perfect ambush.  The first gemsbok walked past at 15 yards-not a shooter-so far we were unnoticed.   The second gemsbok came into view and stopped.  The guide told me this was not our animal either.  The animal looked good to me.  I tried to remember the old adage, “Trust your PH.”  Then, just as the gemsbok started to move, my PH changed his mind and said, “SHOOT.”  At 15 yards, even I can hit a broadside gemsbok.  The gemsbok blew out on a death run, we were in hot pursuit.  My PH, Pieter later admitted that he initially thought I had hit the animal a bit far back.  Fortunately, it was a perfect heart/lung shot.  We found the animal down about 12 yards away.  What a huge relief.  I had harvested my first African animal.

With exceptionally heavy horns, beautiful black, grey and white markings and finally that amazing tail, the gemsbok and the kudu were at the top of my Africa list.   Jennifer’s filming was superb.  I will always be able to relive and remember my first Africa hunt for gemsbok.