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In Loving Memory of Jack "Chip Miller"

July 2024
Story by Jaclyn Oestreich
State: Pennsylvania
Species: Elk - Rocky Mtn

On July 29, 2023, I received the most shocking phone call from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, “Congratulations, you have been selected for a late season zone 12 bull elk tag.” I immediately called up my dad, Chip Miller, and he was ecstatic and started planning the hunt. We started practicing shooting with my .300 Remington Ultra Magnum at the range. My dad had a hunting camp near zone 12, and it was decided that we would stay at his camp while partnering with Trophy Rack Lodge to help us get a monster bull. Back in 2000, Chip partnered with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and allowed them to use his hunting camp to transfer elk into the 321 game lands and surrounding areas. He was a Pennsylvania deputy and game warden for 25 years. It was always his dream for himself, or even better, for one of his three daughters to be able to hunt the elk.

On Thursday, December 28th, we headed up to our camp to get settled in. Later that day, we went out into the game lands to set up two trail cameras to be on the lookout for two big bulls my dad saw the previous year. On Friday, our good friend, Mark Mummert, met up with us at our camp to film and take pictures of the hunt.

Saturday morning came around, and we eagerly met up with our guide, Jamie Morgan. It was a rainy and foggy morning. We checked a few good places that morning with no luck. Finally, we got on two elk (about 300" and 330"), and we decided to pass them up for the first morning. We hiked along down powerlines for about an hour where the two bulls were to see if a monster was with them. We got so close to the two elk, and I practiced looking through my scope at them.

It was nearing lunchtime, so we decided to head back to the lodge for some food and a rest. As we were driving back, we noticed a truck stopped off the side of the road looking at something. We pulled over as well, and my dad said, “He’s a shooter!” The elk was heading into the woods up a private driveway. We decided to go around to cut him off on the other side of the field he was heading into. We hiked up into the field, and it was much thicker than we anticipated. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find him. I was bummed out, but we decided to go back to camp and take a quick break before going back out for the afternoon.

The afternoon came around, and it was time to get back out hunting. The sun had come out, and my dad said, “It’s a great afternoon to kill an elk.” We decided to go to a field where the guide had seen some nice elk, and we quickly got a phone call that another guide spotted a 6x6 bull somewhere else. We jumped back into the truck and went over to the elk which we had decided not to pursue. We decided to go back to where we saw the monster elk earlier that morning. My dad was skeptical that we were going to find him since it was so thick in that area.

We hiked up a small hill and decided to go around the opposite direction of where he had hiked that morning. A little while later, Jamie stopped and whispered, “There’s your elk.” He was hiding in thick brush, and we could just see his antlers. We finally got a closer look, and my dad said he had beautiful antlers and a beautiful coat. He was a 7x7 with dark antlers and white tips with royals. We decided to go for it. We set up my shooting sticks and I got ready. Unfortunately, I was too short to shoot over the brush, so we had to finagle our way into a small clearing which looked like we had a clear shot. The elk was about 50 yards away at this point. I was so nervous he was going to take off! We got into the small opening and set me up again to shoot. My dad said, “It’s a nice elk, Jaclyn. Take him.”

The elk then decided to bed down right in front of us, and I lost my shot. We were nervous he was going to stay bedded down until dark. Finally, he stood up 30 minutes later, and my guide said, “Now is your decision time.” I got the bull lined up in my scope and pulled the trigger. A few seconds later, we heard him fall to the left of us in the thick brush. My dad and I hugged and gave a thumbs up to the camera. We waited a few minutes and then walked up onto the elk. It was a perfect double lung shot, and he ran about 20 yards. My dad and I were so happy and grateful for this elk and the experience of the hunt that you only get once-in-a-lifetime. My elk was a 7x7 bull, and he was estimated to score about 365".

My dad passed away an hour after I harvested my bull. He was so proud of me and was so happy we got to do the elk hunt together. He taught me everything about hunting and fishing, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without his love and support and passion for the outdoors. In honor of my dad, please consider donating to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for a memorial in his name under Jack “Chip” Miller. I want to thank everyone involved, including our dear friend, Mark Mummert, our guide, Jamie Morgan, Trophy Rack Lodge, and all of the emergency personnel. I will always cherish this hunt I shared with my dad.