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A Tale of Two Elk Hunters

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Two Magoffin Countians who were drawn for elk hunting permits scored big this past weekend.

On Saturday morning, October 6, 13-year-old Graison Hall and his dad woke up around 5:30 a.m. -running a little late - and headed to Martin County.

“We hunted at the airport and at the prison, then we went before you get to Eagle 25 and Dad stopped and looked over and there he was,” Hall said. “He had three cows with him and we got out of the truck and there he was standing. He finally got broadside and I shot him while he was moving. It was about a 170-yard shot and he went about five feet and dropped.”

For several months the father and son duo had prepared and practiced, and they hunted this particular bull for two weeks prior to the kill.

“There was a bigger bull, but the only thing the problem was it was only a bow area and yesterday he came from 200 yards from us, but I couldn’t get a shot, but we practice and practice and practice and that’s what you get,” Hall said.

He said the waiting and anticipation have been exciting, telling Mortimer Media Group, “It’s been a struggle, but I’ve been ready for it, though.”

His dad, Chad Hall, was probably even more excited.

“He wouldn’t quit shaking,” Graison remembered. “He was shaking like crazy and I wasn’t, though. I was just making sure he wasn’t getting back up, again. I was starting to tear up a little bit when he was down. I’m glad it didn’t get up, though.”

Chad Hall expressed thanks to all the people that helped with the hunt, including Nathan Frisby, Bryan Lafferty, Dustin Jones with Coal County Outfitters, Hurley Combs with Lost Mountains Outfitters and Trinity Shepherd.

“They have been helping us since August to make this father/son hunt come true, so I thank all of you guys for all the help and advice you have given us,” Chad said. “This was a hunt that will never be forgotten.”

The 6-by-6-point bull elk was taken to the Appalachian Meats to get the meat off of it and then the Halls plan to mount the head and antlers. 

Retired teacher and principal Diral Adkins entered the statewide drawing under a few different elk hunting categories and out of the thousands that applied, he was one of 150 people drawn for a bull tag. 

Adkins explained that during mating season, currently going on, a hunter can do a cow call and the bulls will make a bugling sound.

Early Sunday morning, on October 7, Adkins, along with his hunting guide, Trinity Shepherd, and his oldest son, Shawn Adkins, ventured out into a heavily-wooded area back in the head of the Licking River in Magoffin County.

“We were traveling for miles on the side-by-side on Saturday all day and never had any contact with any elk,” Adkins told the Independent. “We went back on Sunday, got up around 3:30 – 4 a.m. and went back up near Gunlock at the head of the river.”

After scouting approximately 12 miles of numerous trails, their work finally paid off.

“All of the sudden Trinity did a cow call and a bull answered us from up on a point, but he wouldn’t come in,” Adkins said. “We sneaked down and made a big circle around him and came into a little patch of woods. He did another cow call and the bull just stepped out from some trees about 50 yards away. We were in thick woods, but I got a shot. He ran about 20 feet, angled away and I shot him, again.”

The trio field dressed the 600-pound 4-by-5-point bull and somehow managed to load it on the side-by-side. 

“Elk was sticking out everywhere,” Adkins laughed. “It took us a while to get it out of there.”

Adkins said the location of the kill meant as much to him as the kill itself.

“When I was a boy there was no deer, no turkeys and no elk,” Adkins said. “I never knew I would live long enough to hunt these in this county. Now, I’ve hunted deer and turkeys, but elk were extinct in this area from the late 1950s until they started reintroducing them in the 90s.”

Adkins said he couldn’t have managed the hunt without Trinity and Shawn. 

“The boys that were with me, which I call boys but they’re middle-aged men, were more excited than I was. They were like children. Trinity was my guide and he knew the head of the river area and how to call them, and Shawn is my son and without them, I couldn’t have been able to get it out of there.”

Adkins said getting an elk in Magoffin was always a dream of his, but he never thought it would happen.

“It was an awesome hunt,” Adkins said. “It was a lifelong thing you think about, ‘I sure would like to do that.’ I could hunt all through eastern Kentucky, but I wanted to get one in Magoffin. It makes it more personal to me.” 

Right now, the elk is at the food processing place, then he plans to take the head and antlers to the taxidermist to have them mounted to remember the experience of killing his first elk.

“I can’t put in for a tag for another three years, and only 150 are picked out of thousands, so it’s a once-in-a-lifetime type thing,” Adkins explained.

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