Sadler Has A Season For Everything

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Emporia, Va. (January 14, 2003) - There are two loves in the life of Elliott Sadler and each has its own season. As soon as Sadler landed at home in Emporia, Va., last November - he headed straight for the woods. Away from the media and adoring fans, Sadler participated in a passion that comes second only to racing - deer hunting.

Sadler hunts deer every single day in the winter from the time the checkered flag drops in Miami until the track goes green at Daytona International Speedway for pre-season testing. Rising at 5am - much earlier than he ever has to be up at the racetrack - Sadler gears up and heads for the hunt club just down the road from his home. There he meets several family members, friends and hunting buddies to discuss the day's hunt over some warm biscuits. He is just a local guy to the people who join him; no one asks for an autograph or talks about racing. They just swap deer stories, laugh and tease one another about 'the one that got away'.

According to Elliott, deer are very smart animals. They roam the woods and run in paths similar to how cars drive on highways. Since deer don't usually stray from those particular paths, Sadler knows exactly where to find the deer because he has studied these woods his entire life. Growing up, Elliott walked the woods near his home so many times he is familiar with every creek, road, corner and pass.

Elliott is the clear leader for his hunt club, due in part to his knowledge of the area. He leads each pre-hunt gathering. On a typical day, Elliott hands out numbers for folks to draw for deer stands. He describes the 'block' or particular area of land the hunt will take place on that day. Sadler's hunting game has its own lingo and rules. The folks who hide out in deer stands are called 'standers', and those who let their dogs loose to chase deer are called 'drivers'. The deer run together on 'highways' through the woods.

Sadler then assigns the 10 deer stands strategically placed throughout the block, dismisses the standers and gives direction to the men who will drive the dogs. In the back yard behind Sadler's home live about 30 Walker hunting dogs. Even though most of the dogs look alike, Sadler knows each one of them by name, how old they are, and how well trained they are to pick up the scent of a deer.

When Elliott backs up his truck to the dog pen, the Walkers are barking and jumping with excitement. He usually chooses 10 dogs, places tracking collars around their necks and loads them into a cage in the back of his truck. The dogs left behind become silent because they know won't get a chance to run that day.

With such a fondness and appreciation for Walker hunting dogs, Elliott's new family of sponsors is the perfect fit. Pedigree brand food for dogs, a sister brand to "M&M's"® appears weekly on Elliott's racecar and nightly on his dogs' menu.

After loading the dogs, Sadler radios to all of the standers and drivers to check their positions. Everyone on the hunt has a radio and Elliott once again demonstrates his ability to navigate anyone through each nook and cranny of the woods. When all the standers are in place - the drivers let the dogs out.

The drivers walk through the woods with the dogs until they pick up the scent of a deer, commonly referred to as 'jumping' a deer. The hunters wait patiently for the howling of running dogs, hoping they chase the deer right into their path. The drivers watch for any dogs that may lose their way, jump the road or lose the trail of a deer. The hunters radio back and forth and move positions to intercept the running deer.

When the hunt is over, each hunter lends a hand to round up the dogs. The hunters use radar wands to detect the dogs that are wearing tracking collars. Once all the dogs are accounted for, the men return to the hunt camp. Depending on how long each excursion takes; they may do it all over again on a second block. Sometimes the hunters return late in the night, only to do it all again the next day.

"I love the sport of hunting," said Elliott. "To the guys I hunt with I am just someone who grew up in this town, ran around like every other normal kid growing up, and who shares the same love of this sport. It's an escape from almost everything for me. I'll tell you what though, deer hunting is really hard work. By the time hunting season is over - I am ready to get back in that race car!"

Sadler emerged from the woods shortly after the New Year - his dogs and hunting buddies will have to wait for the next 10 months to pass before they see him again. Elliott's focus has shifted 100% to racing, but now he is in the hunt to get the No. 38 "M&M's" Ford Taurus into victory lane.

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