Kevin Presnell, Jim Lombardi and Guide Tim Curry
I cannot begin to say how appreciative and fortunate I am to be where I am today in the hunting industry. It has provided some great opportunities for me and my friends. Every day I have more to look forward to and unlike the jobs I performed for the automotive companies, I am rewarded everyday for my commitment and hard work. This story is an example of how giving a little of your time can reap great rewards in the end.
Last fall, I had the pleasure of meeting a very generous, good hearted man, Kevin Presnell. Kevin runs several companies, but his greatest passion is his commitment to spreading the good word of Christ in conjunction with sharing the great outdoors with the less fortunate. Kevin is the founder of the Presnell Family Foundation. He commits long hours and extensive financial donations to ensure that the handicapped, ill, or underprivileged adults and children get an opportunity to experience the outdoors. Kevin has applied many concepts to help the less fortunate forget about their handicaps and every day worries.
Last November, the Hunters Prostaff camera crew and myself, went down to do some hunting on a private piece that Kevin had leased. We were told we would be hunting and filming the property for a promotional DVD. Jed Speiser, Bryan Malone, Eddie Stanton and I were ready to hunt and film each other and all took valuable vacation time. When we arrived, there was a misunderstanding and we spent the remainder of the week filming some incredible handicapped hunters. Needless to say, we were bummed that we weren’t hunting, but in the long run volunteering our time to such a great cause has paid us far greater rewards than the hunt itself! We had a great time and made lifelong friendships. Because of this commitment, I was fortunate to land a bigger role with Kevin and his foundation, as well as, a position with his Elite hunting product, The Presnell Sporting Collection.
The Presnell Sporting Collection is like a country club membership for the Elite Sportsman. The Sporting Collection takes all the worries out of booking a hunt. Every location or venue which the Sporting Collection offers is prequalified by our staff. Every attention to detail must be met to exceed our client’s expectations. This is where I come in. Kevin made me the Director of Product Development and Prostaff of the Sporting Collection. This role is multifaceted; however, the key aspect is the review of every venue, from the hunt itself, to the food and lodging, and the proficiency of the guides. I am also responsible to determine the necessary gear required for each venue. This gear will be offered on a new website called Presnell Premier Products. All products will be high end and the ultimate gear for the elite hunter.
Now that you understand the prequalification process and the role I am playing, I can get into the guts of the hunt, literally! Kevin and I left September 11th to review a venue in Colorado. Kessler Canyon Ranch is located near DeBeque, Colorado. Kevin and I spent 5 days at the ranch. Kevin was hunting Mule Deer and I was hunting Elk. The lodge was exquisite, with a décor which cannot be explained in words alone. The artwork and furniture was extremely unique and tastefully acquainted. Lenny, our chef was amazing! He somehow, caused me to gain 2 pounds, while hiking literally miles per day up and down steep canyons. Needless to say, the food was too good to pass up!
Now, let’s get into the hunt. After a 45 minute ride from the ranch up a tight switch back to the top of the mountain, our butts were puckered and our hands were on the door handles, as we looked down the 600 ft. cliff edge. Once at the top, we were sure to get loose chasing some game. The 23,000 acre private ranch was full of free ranging animals. The first morning of our hunt, Kevin had a nice 190 class Mule Deer Buck in his scope. Unfortunately, the buck did not present a shot before heading over the canyon and onto the neighboring property. After an hour of glassing, we were entertained by hundreds of Elk moving down the mountain into an Aspen thicket. We quickly switched gears into Elk hunting mode. Our guide, Tim Curry, worked with me to do some calling. I was hunting with my Jim Belcher Custom Long Bow and was very excited to get in close to a big Rocky Mountain Bull. Tim set up above me and I had Jake Hanson, cameraman for Barrett Communications, by my side. Tim let out a high pitched bugle, representing a satellite bull. We immediately received a response from below us. The wind was right so we headed in. Jake and I set up 75 yards below Tim. Tim and I started a much orchestrated volley of cow mews. The concert was unbelievable! We mewed and the Bull’s blew up. One herd bull in particular was letting out guttural sounds which raised the hair on the back of our necks! Cows were also joining in and the sounds got closer by the minute. I had to rub some Border Crossings Elk Herd in a stick all around us on scrub oak brush because we were assured to get circled. Jake filmed me frantically running around with the Scent and rubbing it on everything I could. It worked like a charm in conjunction with our Buck Fever Synthetics Vanishing Hunter Scent Eliminator! Two smaller bulls were in our laps within minutes. I passed on a young 4 X 4 on film, as he stood directly downwind of our setup!!! Shortly after the 4×4 moved off, I passed on a nice 5X 5. Both bulls were within my 20 yard range of my long bow! The herd bull was bedded up with cows and was not in a hurry to leave his harem. We exited the set up and planned our evening hunt.
Jim, Jake Hanson and Tim Curry
On the evening hunt, we set up above the Aspen thicket on drainage leading to a watering hole. Cows, calves and small bulls were below us less than 100 yards. Bulls were screaming approximately 600 yards from our view and then he came out. A complete stud, covered in black mud from his antlers to his big fat butt! He was a huge 6 X 6 bull in the 350 inch range. I turned to the guide and Jake and said let’s go! We need to get above that bull and in between him and the cows. Tim advised if we were patient he would be below us at the watering hole shortly. It never happened. I am a true believer that when the bulls are this horny, you get in their bedroom. This night we waited and it was a show with no go!
The following morning we hit the same canyon. Bulls were blowing up everywhere! I grabbed the long bow and we started in. There were bulls to the left and below and bulls to the right. The wind was better for the herd to the left, but we were closer to the ones to the right. Tim asked me to hunt with the muzzleloader because we could get the herd bull to the right killed now! (Kessler Canyon is in the Colorado Fish and Game Ranching for Wildlife Program. Because of this program, hunters are allowed to hunt with any legal weapon during the full season. Therefore, I was able to go in with my Ultimate Firearms Muzzleloader. Truly, the Ultimate is the premier muzzleloader of the industry, able to shoot 500 yards with 1”MOA!!) Tim was convinced that we were on the same bull from the night before. We set up across the canyon where the herd was filtering down the mountain. They were pouring out from an Aspen thicket directly across from our perch. Tim took out his range finder and advised the cows were at 375 yards. He asked “Jim. Are you comfortable shooting a muzzleloader at that range? Are you stable?” I replied, “I am pretty solid and the gun will do it!” I turned the turret on my Leupold Mark 4 Tactical Scope to 375 yards and locked the gun to my shoulder. We watched bulls filter out with cows. The herd bull was screaming from above as he made his way through the Aspens. Out came the last 3 cows and a huge bodied bull hooking the last cow with his horns. Tim advised it was the herd bull. “He is a good bull! Get on him.” I was reluctant, but I could see his rack from the distance and the white tips looked good. I did not put the scope on his horns, as I tracked him chasing the cows down the draw. He made one loop back up and stopped quartering away up the mountain. Tim advised “364 yards dead on. Are you steady?” I replied yes. I took a long deep breath, locking my arm to steady the shooting stick, and squeezed the 2 lb. trigger. The gun went off and I did not feel the 275 grain bullet, exploding out of the barrel with 200 grains of Triple Seven powder behind it! The crosshairs were locked on my spot, on the back side of his rib cage, as I imagined the opposite shoulders position. A good bow hunter always thinks of the exit hole! The same holds true with the bullet! Needless to say, the bullet hit and the bulls 750+ pound body took the punch. Tim advised you hit him, dead center of the chest! The bull walked stiff legged, about 10 yards, looked up at the cows and looked as though he was going to bugle; he turned and fell down the mountainside. He’s down! He’s down! Tim was impressed with the shot. Was it the gun? Was it the shooter? Was it luck? I believe it is a combination of everything that brings a hunter success. I was elated with joy and gave Tim a big man hug and started the high fives with Jake and Kevin. It was a great hunt!
Kevin and Jim
We were on to get Kevin his buck. Should be easy right? Unfortunately, the bucks we were seeking were slipping out of range every day. After four days of chasing up and down canyons, glassing until our heads were pounding from the strain and experiencing several evenings sitting in thunderstorms, we got it done! Kevin could have taken the easy way out. But Nooooooooooooo! He had to be a persistent, aggressive animal and he dragged Tim and me along with the camera. Up and down, in the rain, barefoot in snow, uphill both ways, climbing, hand over foot, crawling through cactus thickets naked….Just kidding. I am getting carried away. It truly was a challenge because it wasn’t until the last hour, of the last day that Kevin harvested a beautiful 170+” mule deer buck. He made a clean, one shot kill, with the Holland and Holland 7MM piece of artwork. The buck was at 250 yards and he set him down in his tracks! Great job Kevin!
I set out on the hunt to do a few things. I was looking for a 6 X 6 Bull in the 300 class range and I wanted him close enough for the long bow. I wanted to get Kevin on a 200+ inch Mule deer. I wanted to have a great time and experience new challenges. I wanted to meet some exceptional people. I may not have achieved my animal score goals, but I exceeded my expectations everywhere else! I am very proud of this bull and I am very proud of the confidence I have in my Ultimate Firearms Muzzleloader. I am equally proud in Kevin’s persistence to shoot a great buck. Both animals are great trophies in anyone’s portfolio. The hunt was a true success and a true pleasure to be among some great colleagues. Thank you, Kevin Presnell for the hunt and opportunity to work with you in this position. Thank you, Tim Curry and Mark Kessler for the great hunt, hospitality, guiding and beautiful property. Thank you, Jake Hanson, (Cameron Mann), the camera man extraordinaire, who chased us up and down canyons with 50+ pounds of equipment and was eager to assist in the hunt, as well. Thanks for the camera pointers. Great job to all and an experience I will never forget.