The Biathlon Elk

This is the story of an Elk hunt, but not your typical story, if there is such a thing. Lanny Barnes is a three- time Olympic Biathlon champion (skiing and shooting) and her identical twin sister, Tracy, is also a biathlon champion. This sets the stage for a very unusual story.

It was the last week of the Colorado Elk season and they decided they wanted elk meat for Lanny’s wedding celebration, which was only a week away, so they grabbed their bows and gear. They set off for the mountains to see what they could find. After a six-mile hike from the trail head to an elevation of 9,500 feet, they heard a bugle off in the distance. These competitive twins decided to hunt separately with Lanny going further up the steep rocky mountain and Tracy dropping down, both hoping to zero in on the distant sound.

Lanny struck elk first among the pines at the top of a mountain rock slide area and carefully closed the distance. A nice bull was in the center of fifteen cows and bugling. She closed the distance as the bull came forward to within thirty yards, and her adrenalin was pumping. Was the wind right? Would he spook and run? She remained covered, silent and motionless, then drew, steadied on the bull’s vital area and released a well aimed arrow.  The bull staggered, walked a few yards and dropped as the cows ran down the mountain. As Lanny paused to relieve the adrenalin rushes; she realized she was more emotionally thrilled and impacted than during an Olympic race. 

Following a short break she went to tell her seven month pregnant sister of her success and as she approached Tracy she noticed her standing over another well arrowed fine cow elk that had run down the mountain directly on her path.  It was two twin sisters and two elk on a mountain far from the road and  

They paused and made a plan. Tracy headed down the mountain to the truck and to get some help packing. Lanny in the mean-time field dressed, quartered and carried ninety pound packs of meat across two rocky, slippery avalanche slopes.  Help arrived in the form of Tracy’s husband and Lanny’s bull was packed to the truck in one of those typical sudden September Colorado rain storms.  They went back the next morning for Tracy’s well covered cow elk.

This story actually began years earlier with Lanny’s dad who claimed his girls were the “best sons” he ever had, as he often took them hunting. Lanny was known as “The hunting hog” because she was always the first to be up and ready for the hunt.

The girls completed their hunter safety course at age seven, but couldn’t hunt big game until the age of twelve. They honed their hunting skill by joining dad on his hunts serving as spotters, packers, bird dogs, pointers and retrievers. They did hunt rabbits and turkeys; Lanny’s first was a twenty-pound Merriam’s Turkey with a twelve-inch beard. At the age of twelve both twins drew elk tags and each was successful. That was her first of twenty-two elk as well as black bear, deer and Javelina in the U.S.;  Kudu and Wildebeest fell to her skill in Africa.

Their Olympic training began at age seven when they saw the games on T.V. and had dreams of one day competing in the biathlon because of their love of skiing, shooting and hunting.

They both made the Olympic team at the age of twenty-four, but that’s for another story of these unique Olympic Champions, and of course my champions too.

Lanny now works as the V.P. of Experiences at the Prairie Fire shooting complex in Pahrump, Nevada and continues her valuable work with terminally ill children and wounded veterans on their “Dream Hunts” Oh, did I not mention she is an accomplished professional artist and chef. Yes, she is also my friend and hero. 

I next look forward to writing one of Tracey’s hunting/fishing stories; you will see it here first.


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  • 1 elk loin (backstrap), prepared for rolling up
  • tsp cayenne pepper
  • lb Prosciutto ham, shaved
  • lb brie cheese, sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
  • cup white wine
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 cup oil 
  • 8 tbs cold butter


  • Lay elk on a sheet of plastic wrap;
  • season with cayenne pepper and minced garlic;
  • lay ham, cheese and cup tomatoes over the top;
  • roll length-wise and secure with toothpicks;
  • dip in seasoned flour and brown in large frying pan in oil with 2 tbs butter.
  • Place in baking dish, bake in 350 degrees for 25 minutes;
  • remove oil from frying pan, leaving the browned bits;
  • add 3 tbs butter, sun-dried tomatoes and shallots;
  • cook until shallots are translucent;
  • deglaze with white wine, scraping bottom;
  • boil for 15 minutes;
  • add the whipping cream, cooking until mixture has thickened;
  • stir in lemon juice and remaining butter; slice loin and serve with sauce.

“The Biathlon Elk” first appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Pahrump Valley Times