Vietnam veteran lands the trophy elk he’s been after for 26 years
Outside The Gates: Wasilla doctor and Northern Lights Elk Lodge of Alaska teamed up to donate the hunt to the Marine Corps vet
PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - Never underestimate the kindness of strangers, which is something Carl White now knows all too well. The Vietnam veteran was surprised to be the recipient of a donated hunt at the Northern Lights Elk Ranch of Alaska last month, giving him a unique opportunity to bag that bull elk he’s been after for 26 years.
“I got about four cow elk, but I never shot a bull elk,” White said.
The donation came in part from Shannon Gulley, a Wasilla doctor who comes from generations of veterans.
“I feel very strongly about helping veterans, as a physician and surgeon I take all comers from the vet system,” Gulley said. “We are here because of them, so I kind of feel like they get a poor shake a lot of times and stuff, so I was very excited when I had this opportunity.”
Gulley’s donation was matched by the ranch’s owner, Paul Cook. Cook purchased the elk ranch about a year and a half ago and has been building his business since. When he heard that Gulley wanted to donate a hunt to a veteran, he jumped on board to help make it happen.
“I don’t think the country always remembers or takes care of our veterans like we should,” Cook stated. “So just to give back to them and honor them for serving.”
The ranch offers guided rocky mountain elk hunts in a 315-acre area in the woods located near Hatcher Pass.
After White was chosen as the veteran to receive the donation, the avid hunter picked up his rifle for the first time in four years, taking a couple of practice shots at the Maud Road Shooting Range in Palmer before heading out into the woods of the mountain base ranch. The Marine Corps vet had no cobwebs to dust off, shooting eight-for-eight rounds on the paper target stapled to a cardboard box.
The scene at the ranch was picturesque as the sun beat down on a thin layer of snow, casting thousands of shadows from the bare winter branches. White’s son Trent — an Army veteran himself — walked softly behind his father, stopping each time they spotted a herd.
About four hours into the hunt, White found himself at the right place at the right time, as he drew his rifle up to his shoulder and delivered a single shot into a bull as a herd ran across a trail. It was the perfect shot.
“After 26 years I finally got one,” White said. “Now the next thing is I’d like to go out and get a moose and then I’ll probably be done hunting.”
All thanks to Gulley and Cook, whose donation allowed White to finally land a trophy elk. But White doesn’t plan on being outdone by his son.
“With that elk, he outdid me,” Trent smiled. “But we’ll see. We’ll see if he can get out there and get a moose bigger than mine.”
Just a few days following the hunt, White and Trent went back to the ranch to meet Gulley for dinner.
“That was one of the best parts,” Gulley said. “It was great to get to meet him and see how happy he was to get to do that hunt.”
Happy for another successful hunt and the opportunity to shake Gulley’s hand as a thank you.
“What they did here, I really appreciate it,” White stated. “It really means a lot to me.”
Copyright 2022 KTUU. All rights reserved.