Telford has traveled six continents to hunt

APPLETON -- Growing up on a farm along the Pomme de Terre River near Appleton gave Alan Telford a world-class introduction to hunting. Six continents, 22 states and three Canadian provinces later, Telford has collected trophies ranging from a Sib...

Al Telford
Al Telford has hunted game on six continents, not to mention 22 different states and three provinces in Canada. Yet one of his proudest trophies was taken within walking distance of his home north of Appleton. He harvested this 14-point whitetail with a muzzle loader. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

APPLETON -- Growing up on a farm along the Pomme de Terre River near Appleton gave Alan Telford a world-class introduction to hunting.

Six continents, 22 states and three Canadian provinces later, Telford has collected trophies ranging from a Siberian grizzly bear to a Mongolian thar.

He still finds some of his best hunting on his old stomping grounds.

"I get a rush every time I shoot a pheasant," said Telford, 63, whose love for hunting has taken him a long way beyond the western Minnesota prairie.

From the highlands of Mongolia to the open plain of South Africa, Telford has yet to find an animal to pursue as wary and as challenging as the whitetail deer found near his home north of Appleton.


"To shoot a decent deer," said Telford, "you have to know what you're doing."

He knew his love for hunting at a young age. Although his father had no passion for hunting, he gave his oldest son a .22 rifle and kept him supplied with ammunition from about the time he was eight years old. Telford said he began hunting in earnest by the time he was 12.

He's been hunting ever since, with only one interruption. He served as helicopter gunner in Vietnam from 1966-67.

Otherwise, Telford said there hasn't been a year that he hasn't pursued whitetail deer or other popular game animals in Minnesota.

There's no keeping track of all the game animals he's pursued outside the boundaries of the state, or for that matter, the country.

Telford said he wasn't necessarily looking to become an international hunter, but as a young man he made three goals for himself: To become a millionaire, shoot a grizzly bear and to hunt in distant lands.

The first goal remains elusive, but years of work in various occupations ranging from farming to non-destructive testing -- and a 26-year stint in the National Guard -- have provided sufficient financial security for his goals, he said. He tried marriage once, but said it interfered with his hunting. Single and without children, Telford has also enjoyed lots of free time to pursue both hunting and fishing. Some of his first forays beyond the local hunting grounds brought him north to Canada. He's harvested moose in Alberta, black bear in Ontario and geese in Manitoba.

The opportunity to realize twin goals of hunting grizzly bear and making an overseas trip came in one package in 2000. He booked himself for a hunt in Russia, and on the trip, met Andy Anderson. The Missourian has since become his steady hunting companion and friend.


The Russian adventure brought the two new friends into the boreal forest of southern Siberia. Telford was poised only four feet above the ground when the grizzly bear emerged from the protection of the forest and into the open of a small plot of wheat. The 125-yard shot bagged Telford a grizzly just a tad shy of a Boone and Crocket certificate.

The adventure of it all only whetted Telford's appetite for more overseas adventure. The following year, he and Anderson continued their six-continent quest with an adventure in South Africa, where they hunted the horned animals of the continent's open grasslands.

That was followed by back-to-back years of hunting trips to Argentina. They followed South American hunts with trips to Australia, New Zealand and Mongolia.

The New Zealand trip brought them to the heights of the Southern Alps, courtesy of a helicopter ride. Their travel in Mongolia was not so easy: They stayed in yurts and hunted the steep uplands of the rugged interior lands largely on foot. The trips have produced a collection of exotic trophies for the walls of his home, everything from a mounted head of a large-horned thar to the massive antlers of a red stag.

Yet Telford said he is probably proudest of all for the trophies he has taken closer to home. Two of his favorites were found very close to home. An avid walleye fisherman when not hunting, Telford needed make only a short drive to the Marsh Lake dam to collect a 10-pound, four-ounce walleye for his wall.

Better yet, it required no more than a short walk from his home north of Appleton to take aim with a muzzle loader and harvest a 14-point whitetail. The trophies are fun, but Telford said his love for hunting comes from the excitement that happens with a successful pursuit. One of his most memorable hunting experiences came on his friend's home turf in Missouri, where he successfully called a big tom turkey. "It was quite a rush seeing the big turkey strutting around," said Telford.

Yet with all of this so close at hand, wanderlust remains. Telford and his friend were planning a trip this year to Greenland to pursue musk ox and caribou, but his friend experienced health problems. So, they are doing the only sensible thing: Talking about next year and hunting the farthest reaches of this continent in Alaska.


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