Lizzy received a diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia on January 3, 2019, at the age of 11. Over the course of a year, she underwent intensive chemotherapy, spending a significant amount of time in and out of the hospital, with treatment ranging from daily to weekly or monthly sessions. After a challenging period, Lizzy entered remission. Her father, Tyler, reflected on the experience, saying, “It was a trying time, but I’m grateful that we faced it together.”
Unfortunately, Lizzy later experienced a relapse, leading to her admission for CAR-T cell therapy. Despite initial indications that the treatment was unsuccessful, there has been no detectable trace of cancer for almost two years now, offering a glimmer of hope and resilience in the face of adversity.
Lizzy, now 15, enthusiastically shared her anticipation for the upcoming hunt, stating, “When I heard about the hunt, I was very excited. I love trying new things and knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have always been intrigued by the sport and was ready to learn more about it in preparation for this opportunity.”
Upon arriving later in the afternoon in Southwestern New Mexico, Lizzy and her father, Tyler, embarked on their hunting adventure with guide John Plowman. Despite driving around with little success in spotting game, they decided to return to the motel to strategize for the morning hunt.
Lizzy recounted, “We got up super early and drove to an area where we proceeded to climb a big hill, where our guide spotted some elk. However, they were gone by the time we got over to that area. Undeterred, we explored several other locations, spending most of the day looking for elk to stalk.”
Tyler said, “We hunted again the following day, but most of the elk were spotted later in the evening, past shooting time. On the third day, we had a promising encounter in the evening. It would have been a perfect shot, but as soon as we got set up and Lizzy was getting ready to take aim, the bull moved behind some trees and ascended a mountain. We climbed to the top, hoping to find another vantage point, only to realize the other side was a cliff, and the bull had taken a different route.”
On the last day of the hunt, their guide, John, had work commitments, so Eric, another guide, took over. Around 6 am, on a dark and chilly morning, Eric picked them up and drove to the top of a mountain, sharing insights about where elk tend to be on the property. As the sun rose, they descended the mountain, disembarked, and started walking down a road. Within five minutes, they spotted 2 to 3 elk about 100 yards away, walking away from them. They cautiously stayed close to the trees to avoid startling the elk.
Eric initiated cow calls, and before long, a couple of bulls responded with bugles. He guided them on where the elk might emerge, and they quietly set up the tripod for Lizzy, positioning the Remington 700 Muzzleloader with open sights on the tripod. Eric continued making calls, and the bugling persisted for 30 to 45 minutes.
With intense excitement, Tyler exclaimed, “Then the bull came through the trees and stopped, started raking his antlers on a tree in the distance, made some more bugles, walked just above us in the exact spot Eric said it would, and came out in this little clearing in front of us, stopping broadside at 36 yards.”
Lizzy shared, “When I first saw the elk, I just remember feeling excitement, fear, and nervousness. I was a few yards away, so when it moved, I got worried we wouldn’t get it, since there had already been a few times we’d seen one, and it got away from us. But then there was a wave of relief when we finally relocated it.”
Eric swiftly got Lizzy set up with the gun, and she skillfully lined up the sights on the massive 6 X 6 bull, making a perfect shot. Looking at her dad with a huge grin, she eagerly asked, “Did I get it?” He responded, “Yes, you got it!!” Her face lit up with joy.
Lizzy expressed her mixed emotions, saying, “When I shot him, and he passed away, I felt happy to have finally accomplished what I had come to do, but also felt a bit blue about taking a majestic animal’s life. After the mild sadness passed, I thanked God for providing for me.”
Tyler vividly described the moment, expressing, “The smile on her face after she pulled the trigger was incredible! Eric was equally excited for her, offering a high five with a big smile as well.”
Reflecting on Lizzy’s hunt, Tyler expressed, “The most rewarding aspect was spending time with her outdoors, witnessing her resilience and determination. Her unwavering confidence in getting an elk and her positive attitude throughout were truly remarkable. As a family, we believe in God, and Lizzy’s prayers about her hunt reassured me that God would not let her be disappointed.”
Lizzy added, “My favorite part of the hunt was when Eric very kindly took us to a different location, where I heard an elk bugling for the first time. It may seem insignificant, but that moment was memorable for me.”
We thank Eric, John, Major Wildlife Studio, and USSA Donors for making this once-in-a-lifetime hunt possible. Congratulations to Lizzy for bagging an elk that many only dream about and creating cherished memories with her father and new hunting friends.
If you are interested in getting involved or know of a deserving child or veteran, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].