Arizona author pens book about fateful elk hunt

"Miracle Hunt" recounts the events of two Page hunters.

PAGE – Kimberly L. Alvarado’s new book is for anyone who has ever met and overcome a challenge.

Her book entitled “Miracle Hunt” begins with Alvarado’s impression of autumn: The way the dark, frigid air of an early morning … just before the winter season in the mountains.
“It’s that time just before daylight when the maximum dip in the thermometer numbs your extremities,” she wrote, “slowly stiffening them and drawing them into your core.”
    Alvarado goes on to write that living in northern Arizona for more than 30 years supported an “When that kind of cold returned every year, it brought with it hunters and their hopes for success with each freezing sunrise,” she continued. “In the mind of a hunter, the cold rendered the perfect scenario in nature for a kill.”

“This year, however, hunting season in the mountains would be merely a memory for us. Life’s path had taken a new course.”

Alvarado begins telling the story about her cousin, Preston Hammond who grew up here in the Page-Lake Powell area, on page 2: The sky was still black on the morning of Thursday, (Nov. 30, 2006) when my cousins Preston and Brandon set out with their dad, my uncle Brian, along the snow-packed winding dirt roads beneath the San Francisco Peaks for a final opportunity to fill their bull elk tags for the season.

The trio had gone to the Indian Flats area, just north of Flagstaff, where Preston was struck by a bullet from a 7-millimeter rifle.

The accidental shot was fired by Brandon, who saw Preston briefly in the crosshairs while he followed a bull through his scope. The bullet shattered his wrist and entered his chest.
“Yelling in eerie, slow motion, ‘Brandon, youuu shhh-ot-t meee,’” Alvarado wrote. “Preston fell face down into the snow as his brother’s bullet rattled through his torso.”
Brian dropped his rifle and ran through the snow toward the boys, not believing what he was seeing or hearing.

The first couple weeks of Preston’s hospitalization were characterized by many lows and highs. His family accepted prayer and inspiration from around 8,500 messages on a website dedicated to his recovery, reported the Arizona Daily Sun.

Thirty-two days later, Preston walked out of Flagstaff Medical Center under his own power while grappling heavy blood loss, vital organ failure, pneumonia, and fluid buildup in his lungs.  

“It’s just too outstanding of a true story to … just not share with others, especially local people in Page (who) have a connection to Preston’s family and to the Hammonds,”

Alvarado said in an interview with the Lake Powell Chronicle during a recent meet-and-greet at Page Public Library. “There’s a dual meaning to the miracle in (this book) because the story depicts me searching for a bit of a miracle as well.”

Miracle Hunt, published by Amazon, took a few years for Alvarado to build up the courage and actually write the book because she says she was emotionally attached to the event when it happened and because she was afraid she would not be able to give the story the significance that it deserved.  

“So, I decided to give it my own interpretation from a point of view as a grieving spectator to the events of Nov. 30, 2006,” she said. “And this book is about those events and what could have been a tragedy.”

Alvarado says it took her a year and half to write and another six months to work with Amazon’s editing and book design team.

One thing Alvarado learned from writing her first memoir is that it was worth it and that she would like to write another book.

“Although I consider myself an emotional writer, and I feel like this piece is a really great, emotional piece, I think next time I might choose something a little more on the light side,” Alvarado said. “Even something about aging or … fictional.”

“But this season of hunting and fall is the perfect season for me to promote this book first because it is about (Preston’s) accident,” she added, “and it’s such a reminder for hunters and for readers to be aware of some of the tragic things that can happen to people out in the wilderness.”

At the end of the book, Preston writes, “I want to live every day to the fullest. That doesn’t mean going skydiving or anything like that, but I’m going to continue to do the same things as before. I just want to enjoy them even more now.”

Kimberley Alvarado is currently living in Mesa, Arizona, with her husband Richard Alvarado. They have three grown children, Brooke, Derek, and Bailey. She’s not a full-time writer, but only dabbles with it. She also has written a number of pieces for her community’s newspaper. Those interested in Miracle Hunt can purchase it on Amazon.


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