Kremmling: Hunt of a lifetime |

Kremmling: Hunt of a lifetime

Kremmling, Colorado

Never in his lifetime has Aaron Mersinger ever seen or hunted as large an elk as he did on Saturday near Kremmling.

While the energetic and friendly 20-year-old hunter appears healthy, his experience this weekend was a challenge. He had to push himself to finish what he came to Kremmling to do – to catch the “big guy.”

“We climbed three-quarters of this mountain and the elk were like right there, and I was ready to die,” said Mersinger, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, diabetes and Tourette Syndrome. “I was like, you know, this ain’t worth it. And then I was like I didn’t come all this way for nothing.

“No matter how steep that hill was, I could go a couple hundred feet and then I’d have to catch my breath. Man I was loud,” he said, as he demonstrated how deep he was breathing, adding that his family and guide thought it might alert the elk.

Mersinger from Southern Illinois received an all-expense paid trip from Hunt of a Lifetime, a nonprofit organization that provides hunting and fishing adventures to children age 21 and under, who have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses.

He made the trip with his family and went on the hunt with the guidance of Josh Richert of Kremmling’s Blue Valley Ranch.

“He must have eagle eyes,” Mersinger said, explaining how Richert spotted the elk from a long ways away. “We waited until they got in the trees and then they started going up the mountain. And then we got out of the truck and started hill climbing. We climbed two miles up that mountain.

“I could have took at least four, five by fives, but I didn’t want too. I came here to get the big guy. So, I waited and I was patient, I was trying to be patient, and finally he stepped out in the clearing and I took him,” he said, adding that it was about 10 a.m. “We finally got him down off the mountain around 1 p.m.”

“I have to give him credit,” his father, Russ said. “There was about at least one time where he looked kind of pale and looked like he was going to turn around.”

“I had to tell him we didn’t come all the way out here to turn around,” added his sister Megan, 15, who also suffers from cystic fibrosis.

“Aaron rested for a second, and then Josh was like, boom lets go,” said Aaron’s mom Terri, noting that Josh even carried his gun for him and was determined not to let him give up.

Cystic fibrosis Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. A defective gene produces “unusually thick, sticky mucus” that clogs the lungs and obstructs the pancreas, the web site states.

The 6-by-6 elk he hunted weighed 800 to 900 pounds and wouldn’t die, he said. He had to shoot it several times before it gave up.

Hunt of a Life Time also paid for his rifle, customized bullets with his name on it, outfit, and will pay for the elk to get mounted and processed at Kremmling Wild Game Processing. It will then get shipped to the Mersingers.

Aaron Mersinger heard of the hunting opportunity when he was watching a hunting show on television.

The family plans to spend the rest of the week horseback riding, fishing and visiting the hot springs before leaving Thursday morning.

Donna Olson from Kremmling’s Historic Hotel Eastin collected gift certificates from many of the businesses in the town for services she thought the family would enjoy.

“I just went around to everybody, I wanted them to have a good time,” she said.

“Everyone’s been just amazing,” Aaron Mersinger said. “We don’t even know how to thank them. They’ve been over and beyond.

“I had really no idea what to expect,” he said. “I’ve never seen an elk up close.”

Aaron Mersinger and his sister were both in the same children’s hospital in St. Louis this year.

Megan, a cheerleader who runs two miles everyday with the squad, said if someone tells them they can’t do something they’ll prove them wrong.

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