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Elk Hunter Waits 15 Years For Trophy

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An elk hunter waits 15 years for a coveted elk tag and gets the South Dakota bull of her dreams.

The waiting game certainly paid off for 61-year-old Gail Swanston of Aberdeen, South Dakota. After 15 years of applying for a bull elk tag in a hunting area outside of Custer State Park, she harvested a 6-by-6 trophy on the first day she could.

According to Aberdeen News, the elk was shot from 130 yards with a Ruger .270. Swanston’s husband Paul was with her, and helping her keep tabs on a herd moving through the area. “Paul just started to say ‘get ready to shoot’ as I pulled the trigger,” she said in the news piece. “The big bull spun around and sat down. That was it. I had my beautiful 6-by-6 Black Hills bull elk.”

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Image via Aberdeen News

Swanston managed to kill the elk with about ten minutes to spare before shooting light ended, and one day before a blizzard hit the area.

She had elk hunted in Colorado and harvested a cow, but the 6-by-6 bull satisfied her quest for big game in the area she dreamed of hunting since she shot her first deer in 1971. Her passion for hunting is obviously about more than trophy bucks or bulls:

“I love the peace and quiet, being out with nature and seeing the beauty of God’s world out there,” she said. “It’s a good time to think and be in touch with my inner feelings and sort out my thoughts. I feel closer to God when I’m out there in nature. It’s awesome to see the sunrise, sunset, watch all the different animals and to be with Paul. We can hunt together, and I really enjoy that.

“You develop skills and tune into nature with your eyes and ears. You learn the coordination of getting the shot in the right spot. There are many things you have to do out there, and if you do them successfully, it’s very rewarding. Plus, you get all the meat.”

Check out this piece about a Minnesota record elk.

With a little luck and a lot of patience, Swanston was able to join the ranks of her fellow elk hunters in bagging her dream bull.

Have you ever been picked in a rare lottery? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Elk Hunter Waits 15 Years For Trophy