It may take Eric Weise as many as a dozen lifetimes to top his first year as a big-game hunter in Utah.
Eric, who turned 16 four months ago, hit a lifetime double his very first time in the permit pool for one of Utah's once-in-a-lifetime big-game animals. While Eric went hunting this past fall, several hundred fellow hunters had to settle for TV football games - again.And in Eric's case, the whole thing came as a total surprise.
The Hillcrest High junior hit legal hunting age this year. His father, David, decided to submit applications for Eric, along with his own, to Utah's premier hunts early last year for moose, buffalo, desert bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats.
The senior Weise came up empty, again, but young Weise had his name randomly selected in two hunts - moose and buffalo. Actual odds of such a double were one in 861. Or, 820 hunters put in for one of 20 early buffalo permits and 630 hunters applied for one of 30 permits on the Chalk Creek moose hunt.
"I wanted to hunt," Eric said, "I just didn't know dad put in for me. First, he came up and told me I was going buffalo hunting. Four weeks later he said, `Well, now you're going moose hunting.' "
Determined to fill the tags, the two Weises spent the deer hunt on the buffalo range in the Henry Mountains. Neither fired a shot at a deer but did do some reconnoitering.
Then, a week before the hunt, with Eric attending to school work, his father traveled back to the area, set up camp and scouted herds.
"Opening morning (Nov. 5) we spotted a herd of nine on a side hill. About 15 minutes after the official opening I took the first shot. It was my first shot ever at a big-game animal," Eric recalled.
According to game officers in the area, Eric's was the first of 20 permits to be filled.
The following weekend the two traveled north to the Chalk Creek area for moose. Fighting heavy snow and slick roads, the Weises spotted two small bulls and stalked a larger bull for two hours before losing it onto property they did not have permission to hunt on.
The next weekend they returned to the area. They spent the first day trying to break through heavy snows. The next day they spotted a smaller bull on a mountainside about a mile away.
"As we hiked toward it we heard this knocking sound. It sounded like a bull knocking its antlers on a tree. As we walked over this ridge we saw two bulls fighting. We sat and watched for about 15 minutes. Finally they stopped . . . I shot the larger one," Eric remembered.
"Try for the desert bighorn or the goat permit. I think those would be great hunts," said Eric.
Odds against going on these two hunts are even higher. This year there were only 13 sheep and four goat permits given out.