Whether it’s guiding hunters for elk or mountain lion, Craig sisters Taylor, 24, and Mattie Jo, 20, Duzik have moved from being siblings around the supper table to two of Craig’s most sought-after guides.
Just six and three years out of Moffat County High School, respectively, the two already share nearly a dozen years of guiding experience. Of course, their upbringing helps — one that saw them stalk deer and other big game instead of shuttling to dance class.
“Dad took us out when we were really little, sometimes even on his shoulders,” Taylor says. “We were guiding by the time we were 14 years old.”
High school rodeo and 4-H horse projects led them to riding at an early age, and the family’s relationship with Melton and Elaine Sullivan of the Eleven Bar Ranch led to private land hunts that included big cats and trophy elk. They’ve now parlayed that experience into a guiding career every summer.
“They’re just delightful, great gals,” says Melton, adding that they learned everything from their dad. “They do things right…they know game, and know how to get people where they need to be to harvest an animal. Our hunters are very comfortable with them, and plus they produce.”
Taking her first bull three years ago, Taylor says their real pleasure comes in guiding, with the two leading elk hunts for Eleven Bar each season.
“It’s more than just getting one down, ” Taylor says. “I love seeing the look on people’s faces when they’re in that moment.” Adds Mattie Jo: “It’s great to get our clients on an elk, and give giving people the opportunity for a great hunt.”
While they enjoy both the new faces and returning hunters each season, they love their hunting location on the South Fork of the William’s Fork River most of all. “We even go up there on our days off,” Taylor says.
And elk isn’t all they go after. They’re also always watching out for cat tracks, leading hunts for mountain lions as well. They’re adept trackers (a Tom’s prints have circular toes and a long stride, says Taylor), and love both the challenge and role it plays in wildlife and livestock management.
Mattie Jo says cats’ intelligence is what makes them so fun to hunt. “You can spend all day going up and down hills and then wind up treeing one right by the road,” she says. “That’s what happened when Taylor got hers. It jumped only 700 yards from the road.”
But as skilled as they are hunting on their own, it’s guiding clients where they truly shine.
“Everyone enjoys them,” says Melton, adding some clients have known them for years. “They know everything and they’re a perfect, natural fit.”
— Dan Olsen