In August of 2010, Kane County Deputy Brian Harris was gunned down on the Utah/Arizona border as he tried to apprehend a suspect. Since that time, the small community of Mount Carmel and many others in Southern Utah have rallied behind this family. Now a great conservation officer and sportsmen are doing the same.
It was a late summer day in 2010, when the lives of the Harris family changed forever.
Bruce Harris, Brian’s father said, “Brenda called us, my daughter, and said that law enforcement officer was Brian and he had been killed and you couldn’t have hit us any harder.”
Harris was a thirteen year veteran of the Kane County Sheriff Department he touched many lives in the small communities around his hometown of Mount Carmel. Thousands attended his funeral. The whole community mourned his loss. His family says Brian was a good deputy who was well liked.
Shawna Harris, Brian’s Wife said, “he was very caring, he would drop anything to help anybody. that’s what he lived for, he lived to serve. ”
The community mourned with the Harris family, then dug in and started what Brian and his wife Shawna always dreamed to do, They built a new home for the family.
Bruce Harris and Chris Decanner, they got involved in this and they drew up some plans bigger than Brian and Shauna had drawn up and they said, “we are going to do this.”
The project drew donations and volunteers from all over Utah. The small, nearly 100 year old Harris house was demolished and this thirty seven hundred square foot house that Brian and Shawna always dreamed of owning was finished this past July.
Bruce Harris said, “it was something to behold and this house is a big house, a big house.”
Shawna Harris said, “my daughters have their own bedrooms now, it’s just nice. He did so much good for people, that I believe that’s coming back to us.”
Gabe Patterson, D.W.R. Conservation officer said “that community rallied around them like you could not believe.”
Gabe Patterson, a conservation officer with the DWR is a family friend and wanted to do something else for the family. Patterson latter had a chance conversation with a landowner, Bob Thomas, that gave him an idea.
Paterson and Thomas made plans to provide the oldest Harris daughter with a tag for the famed Johnson CWMU ranch, of which Thomas is a partner in.
Shawna Harris said of her daughter Kristen, “She’s been thinking about this hunt for a long time, when they surprised us on her birthday, she’s been almost in a trance since then.”
Kirsten Harris said, “I think it’s just really amazing. I don’t have any other words to describe it.”
The wheels were in motion and this September the entire family went up for a mid September ruttin, big bull hunt. The Preston Nutter Ranch donated a Browning X-Bolt 270 short mag, the Utah Conservation Officers Association donated a scope, and paid for the voucher, and Kings Camo stepped up to make sure Kirsten is hunting in style.
Thomas said, “You know if I made a day or a week or a month that much brighter in their lives, then that’s what you are supposed to do. Especially when you own something like this.”
The Johnson family hosted the hunt, and gave the girls a tour of the ranch. The Johnson’s even found some bulls to let the girls hear their first bugle.
On Opening morning Kirsten was anxious to get boys on the road.
Johnson’s ranch is just loaded with elk. But, finding one big enough for this feisty fourteen year old is going to be a chore. We’re looking over plenty of herd bulls, but Kirsten is calling the shots today.
After looking at a few options Kristen raised her rifle and took one shot, the elk ran 50 yards and collapsed.
“After she killed her elk she was asked, what do you think your dad would think Kristen Harris got teary eyed and she said, I think he’d be proud of me. I think 100% sure he would. That was hunting is, it’s not about inches, not about how big you kill, it’s about good people getting together and making memories. Building memories and having a good time and that’s what happened.”