RV was born and raised in Louisiana. Where very early he developed a love of hunting. He was the only child that his grandfather would let use the old 22 rifle. Consequently he escaped many hours of cotton picking in the hot sun, by hunting for supper.
Eventually he went into the military serving a tour of duty in an elite unit of the special forces during vietnam. When he was honorably discharged from the Army he understandably had a lot to sort through mentally. For the next many years he cut off all ties to society; moving up into the mountains and earning a living by horse training and outfitting. It was here that he began to learn the language of the elk and how to speak back with his own vocal cords.
Over 50 years of experience has left RV with a wealth of knowledge that he places at the disposal of anyone interested. Since he has known this country through wet and dry, hot and cold he pretty much knows where the elk are going to be. And unlike an outfitter he is not restricted to one or two areas but can send you where ever the elk are. One time he conducted a seminar to seven first time elk hunters who then each killed an elk the very first day out. RV has taught seminaries all over the United States and is recognized by the Safari Club International, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and many professional guides. I am always amazed at how during bugling lessons he can take a room full of first timers that sound like dying cats and turn them into a beautiful alpine chorus by the end of the day. He loves sharing what he knows saying “I don’t want to take it to the grave with me!”
Over the span of his life he has done and been many things. More than I could mention here. More than most average people can even believe. Us normal people spend 18 years in high school, 6-8 in college and then settle into a proffesion, buy a house and raise children. This doesn’t leave us much room to live wild stories. Remember that line in Little Big Man “And I entered my gunfighter period.” RV’s life reminds me of that movie. Being RV’s daughter and running a family business together I have been with him a good many years now. And over time I have met friends of his from the many phases of his life, never once have I found that he exagerated or changed the facts of a story. Often its the other way around, he down played the really interesting parts. For example us kids knew he used to hang out at bars before he came to know Christ. However he never mentioned he used to get up on the bar and dance with the strippers until his old buddy told us! We have people stay with us all during the summer just to hear RV’s stories. There just aren’t many good story tellers left; another dying art. This story telling is the method RV uses to teach elk hunting.
RV has a story telling style that our family fondly calls “rabbit tracks”. You know how rabbit tracks seem to wonder around in pointless circles? However when you back up and look at the big picture you can learn every detail about a rabbit’s life; where he eats, where he lives, where he hides and how many are in the area. RV’s stories are a lot like this. Often he will start one story and before he finishes it he will tell three others. But if you relax and listen 95% of the time the stories will all tie back together, clearly illustrate a point in context and further more I bet you will never forget them.This style of instructon frustrates people sometimes and the more they push RV to stay on point the less he can. I blame modern technology for this rushed attitude in people. Now days we want quick answers, we google everything, hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear people say “just get to the point”. They even say it to their loved ones. No one has (takes) the time to enjoy communication anymore. But my dear friends think about it, what do you remember the most about your life? Dates, facts, places? No, you remember the stories! Good teachers throughout time have taken advantage of this human tendency, Jesus, Aesop, Benjamin Franklin, American Indians, Aborigines the list could be endless. If you are wanting an elk hunting teacher with a black board, that succinctly dissects the formula of elk hunting, its not RV 🙂 Think of him rather as an art instructor, because truely elk hunting is an art and every shade of light or sent on the wind can alter the effect. By telling stories to illustrate points it gives you a firmer grasp of when and how to use the information. The information learned can be used for elk hunting nationwide. RV can take a lot of the guess work out of your hunt.
RV’s other interest besides God, elk and horses is history so when he built the High Plains Drift Inn he combined them all. The whole ranch is built not only to meet the needs of his hunters but to look like an 1800’s western town. Until recently (since the drought) it was an working cattle ranch. Over the years he has given free field trips to thousands of kids from all over the world, letting them taste a bit of the old west as it really was. Even this wasn’t enough histroy preservation for RV however, so he began building The White Mountain Trading Post, a free living history museum in Fort Garland, Colorado a few years ago where we endevor to make histroy come alive with reenactments and demonstrations of all things old fashioned.
For more information
White Mountain Trading Post