Ranch brings thrill of the hunt to life for enthusiasts

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You are probably familiar with the large non-flying bird native to Australia called an emu. They can be six feet tall, weigh 80 to 100 pounds or more, and run 30 miles per hour. 

Emus are valued for their meat, their oil, their feathers, and their leather. Just think, an emu leg is a meal for the whole family and not just a snack like a chicken leg. Surprisingly, if you are a hunter, you can hunt an Emu and other game on a private ranch just down the road in Elberta. It is amazing what you can find right here in our backyard.

Kelly Prestwich, who owns the Big Mountain Hunting Ranch, is fulfilling a lifelong dream of facilitating a hunting experience for all ages and the handicapped. His love of hunting began as a teenager when he shot his first buck deer and knew he was putting meat on the family table. The ranch has 50 acres devoted exclusively to a remote hunting experience. 

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The hunts are for privately raised animals and are offered year-round. They are not breeds native to Utah and are not controlled by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. As a result, you do not need a hunting license. In addition to the emu, the ranch offers hunts for Barbados ram sheep, turkeys, and Watusi cattle on special request. The animal or animals to be hunted. are taken to the hunting range a few days before the scheduled hunt to allow the animal time to get use to the habitat.

There have been five emu hunts on the ranch, thus far. The previous emu hunt, a few weeks earlier resulted in a big bird they could not find for two days. On the recent hunt the emu wore a tracking collar and it still took half a day to locate. The hunt was purchased by a grandfather for his grandson. The primary hunter used a bow and arrow, backed up with a buddy with a shotgun. As standard procedure at the Big Mountain Hunting Ranch the day began with target practice to assure the hunter knew how to use their weapon accurately and safely. The hunters are briefed on the anatomy of the animal and where the shot should be placed. On this hunt it took almost three hours to locate the emu. The emu was low in the sage brush, at about 30 yards four arrows were shot and all deflected off the top of the brush missing the emu. The shotgun backup hunter got the emu. 

In addition to hunting unusual animals that are somewhat uncommon such as the emu, the ranch is a good place to learn hunting the first time or learn skills for bigger hunts. They have also partnered with the Chairbound Sportsman Organization to provide a hunting experience for handicapped civilians and wounded warriors. For more information check out their website bigmountainhuntingranch.com or email Brenda, bigmountainranch@gmail.com. (Helmick is a Serve Daily contributor.)

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