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The Voice of the Tyrone Area High School

Tyrone Eagle Eye News

The Voice of the Tyrone Area High School

Tyrone Eagle Eye News

Colorado Elk Adventure: Tyrone Student Bags 900 lb. Elk

Tyrone sophomore Paige Carper and the 800+ pound elk that she got in December in Colorado.

Tyrone sophomore Paige Carper and her family are avid big game hunters. For the last three years, she has gone on a winter hunting adventure for elk, deer, and coyotes high in the Colorado mountains with her dad, uncles, and two of her cousins.

The trip is not for the faint of heart.

The Carpers stay on public land in the Colorado wilderness near Vail for eight days in December, far from civilization in a tent with just enough room for six cots and a wood stove.

The worst part was having to leave. I love it there. I would live there if I could.

— Sophomore Paige Carper

There is no running water or electricity in the tent and the only source of heat is the wood stove.

The camp is about a mile from the nearest public road, and once you get to the road, it’s more than an hour’s drive to the nearest town.

“The cell service in the mountains is very spotty and depends on where you are,” said Carper, “Our campsite is hit or miss depending on the weather conditions.”

The Carpers prepare and freeze most of their food before the trip and cook on the wood stove for their meals.

Daytime high temperatures at their hunting camp are never above freezing and it is not uncommon for the lows to be between 20 degrees to minus 10 degrees below zero.

In addition to the cold, they also get lots of snow. The most Paige has seen on a trip is 24 inches of new snow.

Finally, there is the issue of the altitude. Their camp is at over 10,000 feet, so altitude sickness is a real possibility for people who are not properly acclimated.

Because it would be prohibitively expensive for the Carpers to ship their rifles and gear on a commercial flight, or to ship their game home after the hunt, just getting there is a challenge in itself.

The Carpers drive 30 hours from central Pennsylvania to Colorado without stopping just to get there.

Paige’s dad has been making the trip annually for over 15 years. Paige just started going three years ago when she was old enough to hunt in Colorado.

“We go back to the exact same spot every year. We even try to hide our leftover firewood before we leave and hope that it’s still there next season,” said Paige.

This year the girls were the only successful hunters in the group. Paige and her cousin Brooklyn, a high school senior in Colorado, both bagged an elk.

Paige harvested a male bull elk that was between 800 to 900 pounds and Brooklyn got a female cow that was between 700 to 800 pounds.

Paige and Brooklyn got their elks on the same day.

“I was helping her carry Brooklyn’s elk back to the truck, which was about a mile away. I was bummed out because that morning I missed an elk, and by the time I came back up it was 4 pm, and the sunset was at 5. So we went down to one of our favorite spots for the last hour of the day.” said Carper, “I got my elk at 4:23 pm, which was really cool because my birthday is on 4-23. My dad saw it first and I turned around to take the shot. I shot at it and it stumbled maybe 10 yards and fell. It was about an 80-yard shot.”

Paige’s dad was very proud of his daughter’s successful hunt and happy that she enjoys the family tradition of big game hunting.

“She does good with handling the cold weather and the long days while hunting,” said Randy, “She [also] did really good in taking her time and making a good shot when she had the opportunity. It was definitely an experience that she and I will remember forever,” said Randy.

The only issue with Paige’s hunt was that it happened near the end of the day, which meant time was short to get the meat back to camp.

If you can’t move the carcass off the mountain by nightfall, there is a risk that mountain lions, coyotes, bears, or other scavenging predators will be attracted to the scent and descend on the animal.

“I only had time to skin about half of it because it was getting dark. There are mountain lions there, so we covered it with the hide for the night and hoped that what was left would still be ok in the morning,” said Paige. “When we got back the next day, there were coyote tracks all around but they had not touched it. The only thing that was gone was the liver.”

Going to Colorado is a trip of a lifetime because of the beautiful views and being able to hunt and camp on top of the Rockies at 10,600 feet of elevation. It’s also a great opportunity for Paige and me to spend time together

— Randy Carper

To get the butchered elk back to camp they use a four-wheeler or carry it out in backpacks.

The Carpers bring the meat they harvest back with them to Pennsylvania. According to Paige, wild elk is really good and is a lot more flavorful than grocery-store beef.

Paige said she is already looking forward to next year’s trip. Hopefully, Paige’s younger brother will soon be old enough to go as well.

“Going to Colorado is a trip of a lifetime because of the beautiful views and being able to hunt and camp on top of the Rockies at 10,600 feet of elevation,” said Randy. “It’s also a great opportunity for Paige and me to spend time together. I am thankful that we’ve been able to do it three years in a row.”

When asked what the worst part of the trip was, Paige couldn’t think of anything. “The worst part was having to leave,” said Paige. “I love it there. I would live there if I could,” she said.

As for the best part, that was easy.

“The best part of the trip in my opinion would be getting to see my family and being able to capture all of the beautiful scenery,” said Paige.

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About the Contributor
Abby Anthony, Staff Writer
Abby Anthony is a sophomore and it is her first year being on the Eagle Eye staff. She is a member of the volleyball team. In her free time she enjoys hunting, fishing, hanging with her friends, and skiing at Blue Knob.  After high school, she plans to get her real estate license and attend the University of Miami to get her degree in Criminal Justice to become a lawyer. Her favorite movies are Mean Girls, Soul Surfer, and Clueless. Her favorite places to eat are Chipotle, AKI, and Chick-fil-A. She hates Taco Bell. She hopes to cover volleyball and special events throughout the school year along with helping the TikTok/social media pages. 

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