December 14, 2009, - 11:12 am
Even though I’ve never hunted and never will (it’s against my religion to hunt for sport, and our food is slaughtered in captivity), I really appreciate this story and congratulate 98-year-old Chet Briggs. The Alpena, Michigan native finally bagged his first elk on Thursday. And how he got the license to do it is a great holiday story of sharing and giving gifts that you can’t buy in a store. It’s not “The Gift of the Magi.” But it’s pretty close.
98-Year-Old Chet Briggs (Right) & Friend Larry Burcz (Left) w/ Elk
A function of big government, Briggs could not hunt elk before because you need a license in Michigan to do so and, in 30 years, he failed to win a license the Michigan Department of Natural Resources lottery for such licenses. Even though I am not a Christian and I celebrate Chanukah, I can appreciate the joy this Christmas present brought this man. It’s a story that PETA members will hate . . . and which I love.
A good friend made a heartfelt gesture, Briggs’ dreams of elk hunting became a reality.
Back in June, Larry Burcz, a seasoned elk hunter who has known Briggs for 44 years, was selected to receive one of the hard-to-get permits. . . . He made the decision to use a special regulation that allows an elk tag winner to transfer his tag to another hunter and he made up his mind to give it to Briggs. . . .
“It was a gesture of giving someone special something they really want,” Burcz said. “I felt it was very important for a guy like Chet to experience it. G-d wanted me to do something special for him. To give him a little piece of heaven while on Earth.”
Briggs said he was shocked when Burcz told him what he intended to do with the tag and about an impending December hunt.
“I told him I didn’t know if I would live that long,” Briggs said. “He said, ‘I’ll take my chances.’ That was one of the nicest things anybody has ever done for me. It’s a dream come true. Who would give up their elk license? Not many people.”
Shortly after Briggs got the news, he started to prepare for the hunt. His grandson, Dave Briggs Jr., said the man’s entire outlook on life was altered with the news.
“When he found out he went from 98 to 70. The doctor joked with him by telling him he needed to settle down if he wanted to make it to December,” Dave Briggs Jr. said. “He started walking up staircases to get into shape. There was more spring in his step and a glimmer in his eye. I tear up just thinking about it.” . . .
Although the season started out slowly, Burcz said the man never gave out hope that he would get his animal.”He woke up this morning and said, ‘Today is the day’ and lo and behold it was. His spirits were high the entire time, and it was some really tough hunting this year,” Burcz said. “All the members and other hunters were pulling for him and helped put him in the best possible position to get it. We were all wet eyed when he shot it. It was kind of like watching your child do something special for the first time. It was that kind of pride you felt.”
Because of Briggs’ poor eyesight, his son and grandson took his 30-06 and modified it with a laser sighting system which would make it easier for him to mark the animal. , , ,
His son, who made the trip from Texas to take part in his father’s special hunt, filled the cartridges himself and customized the bullets.
“We shot 60 rounds, which is a lot. We wanted it to be perfect for him, and it was,” Dave Briggs said. . . . “This means the world to me to be able to share this with my dad.” . . .
There, he field dressed the 400-pound elk. He said there would be a lot of meat from the animal, but none of it would go to waste.
“I have a lot of family that will get some and a lot of friends too,” Briggs said. “This is the best Christmas gift I have ever gotten. I can never thank (Burcz) enough for what he has done for me. It’s amazing.”
I hope they’re hungry. 400 pounds is a lot of meat. But, like I said, this is a unique and special present that can’t be bought in a store.
Tags: 98, 98-year-old, Alpena, Chet Briggs, Dave Briggs, elk, hunter, hunting, Jr., Larry Burcz, license, Michigan