Many local sportsmen and women take annual vacations when they are fortunate enough to draw big-game tags, but for one couple, going on their first vacation in more than 20 years combined a sightseeing trip with an out-of-state hunting and fishing adventure.
Larry and Laura Alanis are long-time Kingman residents. Both enjoy the outdoors, and this year, they decided to go on a vacation to New Mexico and Colorado.
When the trip was over, they not only had a lot of memories and photographs, they had about 600 pounds of fine buffalo meat to eat.
The hunting trip for buffalo was planned many years ago and was to be a graduation present for their son, Jon, who was tragically taken away from them in an accident. Now, with their kids grown up, Larry and Laura decided to take a much needed nine-day vacation and to finally complete the buffalo hunt that had been planned so long ago.
The first part of the adventure saw the Alanises go to New Mexico, where they visited relatives. During the drive through the Land of Enchantment, the Alanis family saw plenty of wildlife. They saw javelina, turkey and deer. In one small New Mexico community, they actually were able to photograph a pair of mule deer bucks bedded down in town.
Besides sightseeing, the Alanis family decided to do some fishing at a reservoir in Colorado. Despite less-than-perfect weather, some fish were caught. Then it was on to a working cattle ranch near Hartsel.
Hartsel is located in central Colorado where highways 24 and 9 meet, on the banks of the South Platte River.
The country is rolling grasslands, and according to Larry, looks a lot like the country south of Seligman. This ranch is also home to a large herd of bison, or buffalo, and each year sportsmen are allowed the opportunity to cull some of the animals.
Larry said that the first order of business was he had to demonstrate to the ranch operators that he could accurately shoot his 7mm mag. rifle.
"They actually let you go out on your own and pick out the buffalo you want, so they want to make sure you can shoot," Larry said.
With the target shooting completed, it was time for Larry and Laura to head out onto the massive ranch in search of the buffalo. "This was a spot-and-stalk deal," Larry said. "We glassed up a herd of about 20 and then went in for the stalk."
Using the available cover, they were able to get within 100 yards of the unsuspecting herd, and one shot later, Larry had his buffalo, a cow that the ranch estimated weighed about 600 pounds.
Since these are such big animals, they decided to let the ranch operators remove the buffalo from the field and handle all of the field dressing chores.
Even though it was early October, it was cold in Colorado. After it was field dressed and cooled out, they put the massive beast in the back of their truck and made a long 15-hour drive back to Kingman.
Larry said he is going to have his cousin do a mount for him.
The animal was taken to a walk-in cooler where it hung for almost a week to let the meat age.
Then the Alanis family, along with other family and friends, cut up the buffalo for the family's freezer.
"It was a good time, and Laura and I had a lot of fun," Larry said.
Let's just hope they don't decide to wait another 20-plus years to take their next vacation!