SILT — Like a lot of gals, Jackie Gross still dreams of a perfect wedding day. But before she calls the caterer or picks flowers, the 30-year-old from Silt has a date to keep with an unusual guest of honor.

Thanks in large part to Colorado fans who rallied in her support, Gross left this week for Zimbabwe to fulfill her role as Tahoe Films' "Extreme Huntress" of 2012, pursuing a Cape buffalo for a forthcoming episode of the TV show "Eye of the Hunter." She didn't exactly leave her fiancé standing at the altar, but for the time being he's playing understudy to an ornery African beast.

"TJ and I had to postpone our wedding because our wedding date conflicted with the scheduled hunt," Gross said. "Conflict or not, we chose rifle shells over wedding bells."

Gross, who grew up hunting and fishing in Louisiana before relocating to Colorado's Western Slope, considers her African hunting safari the opportunity of a lifetime. The contest runner-up wasn't willing to forgo her shot at showcasing women in the outdoor world after being given a second chance when original "Extreme Huntress" winner Tiffany Brewer declined the trip because of a personal conflict.

But even Gross' wedding date wasn't conflict enough to keep the hunter as passionate as her out of Africa.

"It's not that hunting is more important than getting married," she said, blushing, "but it is Africa! So we postponed it."


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The couple make their way to Johannesburg, then on to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and into the bush by Jeep to join the Tahoe Films crew and big game guide Martin Pieters for the hunt next week. Gross has been practicing with the new Blaser .375 H&H rifle won in the contest, firing off shooting sticks, which she had never done before.

"It has been more difficult than I originally anticipated," the 5-foot, 100-pound huntress said. "The rifle kick rocks my petite body after every shot."

Just the same, the vivacious sportswoman is sure to rock the outdoor television world when her episode airs later this year (date to be determined).

"Without the support of the community, I wouldn't be experiencing this amazing opportunity," Gross said. "Everyone came together to support the local gal."

Fans can follow Gross on her website, bowkrazy.com. Women interested in following in her footsteps have until Oct. 25 to submit an essay stating their case in the 2013 Extreme Huntress Contest at tahoefilms.com.

Bear check. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has lifted the voluntary fishing closure on Bear Creek. That's not to be confused with the mandatory fishing closure on the other Bear Creek.

After a summer of critically low flows and high water temperatures, anglers were asked to keep away from Bear Creek upstream of Bear Creek Reservoir in Jefferson County. CPW lifted its request now that cooler weather has arrived.

The Bear Creek in El Paso County, however, is another matter. After recently discovering the state's last remaining strain of pure greenback cutthroat trout in the creek southwest of Colorado Springs, CPW has instituted an emergency fishing closure of that Bear Creek from the headwaters to Gold Camp Road.

Youth pheasant hunt. The first 25 children from ages 10 and 15 to register will get an early shot at pheasant hunting at the Mike Higbee State Wildlife Area near Lamar on Nov. 3. CPW and the Lamar-based Rebel Roosters chapter of Pheasants Forever are offering the youth hunting clinic in Prowers County.

Reservations are first come, first served. Contact Linda Groat at 719-336-6608 or Kevin Kaczmarek at 719-940-3590.

Scott Willoughby: 303-954-1993, swilloughby@denverpost.com