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John Howell grew up hunting and fishing on his family ranch in Nebraska. He has always had a passion for the outdoors and sports, especially football. While attending Colorado State University on a football scholarship John continued his involvement with the family ranch as his love for the outdoors grew stronger.

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Dismal River Outfitters
8276 Sand Dollar Drive
Windsor, CO 80528

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Dismal River Outfitters
36660 Riverside Drive
Mullen, NE 69152

John Howell

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Filming Elk Hunt at Dismal River

posted February 23rd, 2010 by John

I remember when the TV host Dirt King invited me to hunt elk to Sand Hills, Nebraska back in 2006. I was little curious about hunting elk in Nebraska, but I trust Dirt.  Any hunting experience with him so far was successful and lots of fun. I am quite busy at work, so I can’t afford to take 10 days off and backpack in the mountains hoping to find elk. I am on a tight schedule and the pressure is on when shooting TV show. It is not about what the hunter sees and does, it is about what the camera can capture. It is an important show as I am using CZ 550 Ultimate Hunting Rifle in .300 Win Mag, new product for the year.

We have arrived early in the afternoon and went to zero our firearms. Whether I am flying or traveling by car, I always need to check the zero on my gun, it builds the confidence. Three shots at 100 yards are touching, so I am a happy camper and I am ready to go hunting. During the evening I have a chance to meet John, the owner and guide and we instantly click. John tells me the history of the Dismal River Ranch and my eyes go big when I found out about his football career with Seattle Seahawks and previously with Tampa Bay. What a nice, modest guy John is.

The next day I am shown the winding Dismal River and I instantly fell in love with the place, we glass for elk and then decide to do a little stalk. Dirt, John, cameraman and I form a small group and we try to sneak up on elk. It is not as easy as it seems. Four people will make noise and after a decent walk we are resting, the elk is gone. Never mind, we got some nice footage of the river and the stalk and after a break we glass for different animal. We got lucky, there is a very nice 14-point management elk not too far from us. My heart beats faster as we were able to get to 150 yards from him, and he has no idea that we are there. His antlers reflect the late afternoon sun. I set the shooting sticks and make sure that camera is focused on the elk. I set the single set trigger on my CZ 550 as I am a firm believer in the first shot and look through the scope. My breathing got to normal and I am focused on the spot behind his front shoulder. I gently squeeze the trigger and the animal is instantly down. It is a heart shot. My first elk   and it is all caught on camera. The shot was exactly where it should have been and both John and Dirt are as excited as I am. It is a very nice bull and after shooting the still pictures for our albums, John guts the animal. I am taking the meat home with me.

For our second hunting day John has prepared a pheasant hunt for the morning. We got  couple of English Pointers helping to point the birds by the Dismal River. Dirt is a quick shot and if I want to have a chance at a bird I need to be fast. I took out  CZ Woodcock 12 Ga. over and under, John is using one of the Redheads to test out CZ shotguns. He has not shot them before. First point. Gentleman Dirt lets me take the first shot and I get the bird. The game is on now and everybody is praising Dirt for his 70 yard kill shot with Hevishot ammo. What an unbelievable shot! The hunt was fun and again the best shots were caught on tape, I can’t wait to watch the show on Television when it is all edited and produced. That afternoon Dirt got his elk on the camera.

The last day we are filming few interviews and talk about the product and John has suggested to go out with him and shoot round of sporting clays. Yes, I forgot to mention that at Dismal River they have 100 rd sporting clays course designed by professional. The course features 10 stations with very well designed target configurations. I am in heaven. The course is available to every hunter who comes to Dismal River.

When I am leaving home the next day I am sad. Every hunter gets treated like royalty. Whether you are first timer or whether you are accomplished hunter, you will always feel welcome at Dismal River.