Monday, June 16, 2008
Updated: September 8, 2:48 PM ET
Driven to Hunt
By R. Stacy Ratliff
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Jeff Hammond is an experienced hunter with a passion for the pursuit. This past fall Driven To Hunt followed Jeff on his second trip to Southern New Mexico and Limestone Outfitters. Like his storied NASCAR career Jeff gives one hundred percent when he is hunting. Up early and back to camp late was the story for Jeff and his guide and outfitter Darell Welty.
Pursuing the Rocky Mountain elk through the beautiful New Mexico mountains is both a pleasure and a challenge. After several close calls the first two days Jeff and Darell changed their game plan and targeted an area where a big bull had been seen the previous evening. As morning broke over the Cuchillo Mountain Range Darell cow called to locate our prey. At first nothing! Jeff and cameraman/producer Stacy Ratliff followed close to Darell as he used the wind in his favor to move along a low ridge. Taking another opportunity to call, Darell finally got the response he was listening for. A low scream and grunt came from the dark timber of a deep canyon.
Once the bull was roughly pinpointed, Welty used his 40 years of guiding prowess to slowly edge Jeff closer to the bull so he could get a look at its size. Once during the stock the wind shifted taking our scent directly to where the herd was located. Afraid we were busted, Darell backed off and moved down slope to get under the bull.
Setting up where we thought the bull was located we searched the dark timber across the canyon for over 5 minutes before spotting antlers. One look at this bull told us it was what we were looking for. A fast set up on the bull came up too late as the bull moved down hill and out of sight. Darell quickly moved Jeff downhill setting up to intercept the bull. Suddenly the bull emerged from the timber presenting Jeff a shot. After harvesting his biggest bull to date, green scoring 355, Jeff was ready to come back again.
The excitement, the strategy, the pursuit and the adrenalin is what truly drives Jeff to Hunt.
Limestone Guide & Outfitting Service is owned and operated by Darell Welty and his family. It is run in conjunction with a working cattle ranch location in Southwestern New Mexico, about 30 miles north of Winston.