Lucia Pairolero with her Michigan harvested elk were parked at the Reporter office on Dec. 10. Many stopped to hear her story, admire the animal and offer congratulations.
IRON RIVER—After 20 years of entering the lottery drawing for a Michigan elk hunting tag, Lucia Pairolero got her permit and the opportunity to harvest a bull, cow or calf.
The hunt took place downstate near the Pigeon River State Forest and the town of Atlanta that boasts of being Michigan’s elk capitol. Her permit was for the winter elk hunt that ran from Dec. 7 to the 15.
Lucia and her husband, Frank, went downstate to scope out the area and meet with an area scout in October. They returned in December for the hunt.
The Pairoleros were past residents of Stambaugh. They were familiar faces here from 1977 to 1988. Lucia worked for the West Iron County schools and Frank was a Michigan DNR conservation officer. They now live in Marinesco. Passing through town after the elk hunt, they wanted to share the success with friends in the area.
On Friday, Dec. 6, they racked up over 200 miles looking for elk sign. The night before the hunt they connected with Crystal Meier, owner of a local farm. Meier had a spot for Lucia and two other hunters. Lucia had the only bull tag.
On the morning of Dec. 7, Meier and her boyfriend took Lucia and the two others out. They spotted a herd of about 15 elk in a field that moved from field to another. Two bulls were spotted in the middle of the herd, but there wasn’t an opportunity for any of them to get off a shot.
In the evening, they went back out, just Lucia and one of the hunters. Meier spotted an elk through the trees. After taking a good look, they saw it was a big bull. After getting into a good position, Lucia got a bead on the animal and took the shot. She was using what she called her “lady gun” (Frank called it a “girly gun”) – a .25-06 Tikka T3 Lite.
The shot, right behind the shoulder, dropped the elk where it stood. Frank explained that she was using 115 grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw bullets. She only needed one.
The elk weighed in, field dressed, at 665 pounds. The animal sported a beautiful 6x7 set of antlers with an inside spread of 42-3/4 inches. The lengths of the main beams were 47 inches and 49-3/8 inches. The longest tines were 15 inches and 14 inches. The Boone and Crockett unofficial green score was 310 1/4.
Frank stated that 250 tags were made available for the elk hunt and that the current herd is estimated at 1,125 in Michigan. They had been in hunting area F.
In Atlanta and the surrounding areas, elk hunting season is a time for festivals, hunting contests and gathering for hunting stories.
Lucia was entered into the town’s elk contest. She won in a number of categories including first bull brought in and first women to register. She took home a muzzleloader and other nice prizes.
En route from Atlanta back to the Upper Peninsula, the Pairoleros came across many who were interested in the huge cargo in the back of their pickup. The elk became a conversation piece along the road where many chimed in with congratulations and excitement to hear the Michigan elk hunting story.