Free hunts helping Paradise Valley ranch support community, reduce elk population

PARADISE VALLEY RANCH — Kneeling down with a twist of burning sage and smoking a bone tobacco pipe, Livingston hunter Mark Sherkenney gave ceremonial thanks to the cow elk he had just shot for providing him food for another year.

It was the one moment of reflection in what had been a whirlwind Wednesday morning. After arriving in the dark and being briefed on this ranch’s hunting rules, Sherkenney and his buddy saw more elk in the first minutes of their hunt – about 300 head gathered in an alfalfa field – than in an entire lifetime of stalking public lands in Montana.

“I hunt public land and hike 20,000 miles and never see one,” he joked.

Likewise, Nye hunter Matt Anderson was flabbergasted by the amount of elk he had just seen, resulting in his harvest of a cow elk.

“When we hunt in Nye we’ll see hundreds of elk, but they’re all on private land,” he said. “I’ve never hunted private land before.”

Terance Eichhorn, head wrangler at West Creek Ranch and hunt manager at Paradise Valley Ranch, said some hunters might not be comfortable with hunting elk on open ag fields near large pivot sprinklers.

“But for the most part it’s a great opportunity

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