10-year-old Troy Stroer, of Soldotna, displays the rack from a caribou he shot Aug. 13.
Photo courtesy of Silver Stroer
Troy Stroer wasn’t about to come home from his first caribou hunt with anything less than a trophy mount. At only 10 years of age Troy, of Soldotna, had already passed up his first chance to shoot a caribou two days earlier and was patiently waiting in the bushes with his mother and father when he finally spotted what he was after.
Two bucks came running down a steep hillside, opposite a hillside on which Troy and his family sat in wait. The bucks were fleeing the gunshots of another hunter, which rang behind them as they descended the hill in a stretch of wilderness near Chicken.
The two bucks, one small and the second a large buck carrying an impressive rack, were oblivious to Troy and his family. The two bucks neared the bottom of the hill and were about to take off down the ravine between the two hillsides when Troy’s dad yelled, stopping the bucks dead in their tracks.
“I hollered because they always stop when you holler,” said Silver Stroer. “They’re curious.”
With his rifle held steady, Troy took aim and dropped the largest of the two bucks.
“Dad yelled and then the caribou stared at me,” Troy said. “I tried to do my best and stuff. I don’t know how I did it.”
From about 75 yards away, Troy fired a single shot tearing through the buck’s chest, killing the animal on the spot.
Troy’s well-aimed shot had sunk into the bull’s heart. And while Troy modestly credited luck, Silver said Troy has been practicing hard at the rifle range and earned his prize.
“I couldn’t even eat the heart,” Silver said. “He blew it up.”
Silver said Troy’s patience and practice paid off despite being at a slight disadvantage. Troy had just learned how to drive his four-wheeler and his father limited the hunt to safer trails away from the tops of the mountains. And although proud of his first kill, Troy was not too proud to do the dirty work of cleaning his animal.
“He cut it open and everything,” Silver said. “He didn’t like sticking his hands in there at first, but he did it.”
Troy confessed to a bit of squeamishness over the animal cleaning, but said he was proud to clean his buck nonetheless.
“It was kind of messy. (And) it kind of stinked a little,” he said. “It felt really squishy and all gobbly and really slimly inside.”
Silver said the caribou weighed somewhere between 250 and 260 pounds.
He said that when they had spotted a small buck on the first day of their three-day-hunt, he encouraged Troy to take a shot at it, but Troy was determined wait for a bigger animal.
“His patience paid off,” Silver said. “He wanted a big buck and he got it.”
A good hunting day got even better when, later in the afternoon, his mother shot a small buck. Troy’s buck has been taken to a taxidermist to be mounted as a trophy for him to remember his first hunt by.
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