Wolfe Publishing Group

    Going Public

    Elk Determination

    John Uhorchak and John Hordines were best friends that set out to book an elk hunting adventure in Colorado. They ventured to the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where they met Jordan Cook of Colorado Mountain Adventures. Both hunters were from Upstate New York and felt it would be best to use the service of a knowledgeable person with all the right gear for everything from accommodations to where to start looking for a bull elk.

    John Uhorchak poses with his first-ever bull elk shot during a trip planned with long-time friend John Hordines.
    John Uhorchak poses with his first-ever bull elk shot during a trip planned with long-time friend John Hordines.

    When Jordan met John Hordines, the excited hunter was a big guy, weighing around 310 pounds. Jordan recalls the first thing that John told him, “You won’t have to worry about me looking like this come rifle season, as I plan to get in shape for the hunt.”

    Jordan didn’t see either hunter for nearly two years after booking their hunt. When the men arrived in Colorado for their elk hunt, Jordan didn’t even recognize them. John Hordines had lost more than 100 pounds and looked like a different person. He had been conditioning and training for this hunt and was in the best shape of his life. John Uhorchak was already physically fit but lost an additional 20 pounds for the hunt. Both men are an inspiration for anyone wanting to fulfill a lifelong dream of an adventuresome hunt.

    Eager to start their hunt, the crew headed out on horseback for the hunt of a lifetime. Upon arriving at camp and discussing the weight loss Hordines had accomplished, Jordan was also amazed by the story Uhorchak told about his journey of getting into shape for this hunt.

    After losing 20 pounds, eating healthy and exercising for the hunt, he made an appointment with his doctor to see if he was able to get off his cholesterol medication. After blood tests, Uhorchak received difficult news – he had prostate cancer. It was in the early stages, so that was good news, and they were able to schedule surgery and get the cancer removed. After one year, Uhorchak is still cancer free.

    Learning of the challenges and commitment of his hunters, Jordan knew the trip was much more than just taking two friends on an elk hunt. These two men changed their lives – indefinitely – for this elk hunt.

    The crew hunted hard and scoured the rugged terrain for any sign of elk. After three days of covering ground and having a few encounters, Uhorchak found himself perched on a point overlooking an oak brush bottom. Seeing a group of cows move through, he was eager with anticipation, and looking down the trail spotted a nice 5x5 bull moving forward to catch up with its cows. When the bull presented a broadside shot, the hunter capitalized on the opportunity and shot his first-ever bull elk.

    John Hordines hunted long, hard days, covered miles of territory, and it wasn’t until the last evening of the hunt that a 5x5 bull stepped out and offered an opportunity at 300 yards. Unfortunately, the shot didn’t hit its mark, and the bull slipped off into the thick brush just as the final light faded.

    Not only was this a bucket-list hunt but it was also a first elk hunt for both men. Luck always plays a role in every hunt, but the mental determination and preparation played a heavy role in their success.

    Tag Team Pronghorns

    After two years of applying for draws in Wyoming, Henry Wilkerson and his son Kevin drew tags for mule deer and pronghorn. To ensure they drew both species, they built up priority points, knowing it would provide a double hunting opportunity the second year. They drove all the way from Memphis, Tennessee, to Wyoming without stopping to rest. They enjoyed a great mule deer hunt, both filling their tags in the first couple days of the season.

    Henry Wilkerson likewise shot a dandy buck while hunting in Wyoming with his son.
    Henry Wilkerson likewise shot a dandy buck while hunting in Wyoming with his son.

    After deciding to pass on some nice pronghorn bucks during their initial mule deer hunt, the father-and-son team turned their full attention to pronghorn. Henry had a knife incident while cleaning his mule deer, which required a trip to town for medical attention (Successful Hunter “Going Public,” No. 91). Once squared away, he was chomping at the bit to get back on the two-tracks and look for pronghorn to stalk.
    They found plenty of opportunities with lots of mature pronghorn bucks on public ground, but they decided to be picky since they would be packing the meat to the truck. They still had several days they could spend hunting and held off the trigger, even though it was the first time either of them had hunted the tan-and-white “lopers.”
    Both hunters had practiced extensively with their rifles; one used a Remington 700 6.5 Creedmoor with a CarbonSix barrel, Timney Trigger and Bushnell scope; the other had a Ruger American Predator 6.5 Creedmoor topped with a Vortex Crossfire.
    Despite forcing themselves to be fussy and holding out for a big buck, it didn’t take long to spot one worthy of their attention. Their homework had paid off, putting them on a public-land hunt with more antelope than either of them dreamed they would see. Closing the distance by using the terrain, Kevin stalked into shooting distance of his buck. What he didn’t see was that the large group of pronghorn was partially hidden by rolling terrain, making it impossible for them to see all the animals in the herd. Kevin lined up the biggest buck he could see, but his initial shot missed at 420 yards. Luckily, the herd ran towards him after the bullet hit the opposite ridge. As the herd ran up the hill, one stopped at 100 yards, and the hunter dropped it in its tracks.
    Kevin Wilkerson was more than happy with the pronghorn he shot on public ground in Wyoming.
    Kevin Wilkerson was more than happy with the pronghorn he shot on public ground in Wyoming.

    After lunch and packing the buck back to their vehicle, they decided to hike up a steep hillside to take advantage of the spotting opportunity and see what was on the other side. The duo just crested the ridge when they spotted a stud buck about 200 yards away. Henry quickly settled in behind his rifle and leveled his reticle on the buck’s vitals. The buck was walking away, but when the right shot was offered at 230 yards, Henry’s Ruger American hit it with a Hornady ELD-X bullet.
    The Wilkerson’s credit their success to being persistent, even after they spooked antelope on a stalk. After Henry’s knife incident and challenges, he said, “It felt great when it all came together, and we harvested everything we traveled a great distance to find. Hunting is never easy, but it is rewarding in a deep sense.”

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