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Posted on Wed, Aug 28, 2013 : 10:09 a.m.

The final chapter for The Moriah Ranch - memories of elk hunt live on

By Rick Taylor

Editor's note: See previous stories about the Moriah Ranch:

An elk hunt to remember starts with a detour for fly fishing
An elk hunt to remember includes a magic moment of being surrounded by a herd
Elk hunt ends with great geological find, memories of comradery

Prelude: “There’s a feeling I get, when I look to the west And my spirit is crying for leaving.” - Led Zepplin, Stairway To Heaven

I’ve heard “Stairway To Heaven” hundred’s of times on the radio but never paid attention to the lyrics. But, combine this song along with the “hunting experience of a lifetime,” and it becomes a whole different story.

I was recently driving on the highway when this song played, and I was suddenly overcome with emotion; those above-mentioned words hit me like a freight train. Not only was my spirit crying; but my eyes filled with tears thinking about the ranch that changed so many lives forever.

This story is about Stu and Robin Phillips and their family, God Almighty, Richard Stearns, poverty stricken families around the world, World Vision and all those people who’s lives have been affected by a little known hunting property formally known as “The Moriah Ranch.”


Stu Phillips and his son at Moriah Ranch.

photo by Rick Taylor"

I had written a three-part series regarding the Moriah Ranch hunt and you’d probably think I’ve covered everything there was to cover.

The truth is, there was one thing I didn’t cover in my articles because Stu asked me not to. Stu is a very private individual and doesn’t want this story to be about him. Stu explained to me his experiences are to glorify God and his Word, so I’m here to honor Stu’s wishes. Stu had a calling, and I believe my calling was to write this humbling and beautiful story.

It all starts with a book called “The Hole In Our Gospel” written by Richard Stearns, president of one of the world’s largest non-governmental agency’s (NGO) by the name of World Vision.

So, what is the “Hole” all about and what compelled Richard Stearns to write this book? Also, what impact has this book had on millions of readers like Stu and Robin Phillips?

The “Hole In Our Gospel” challenges the personal relationships we have with God. To be more specific, the word “hole” refers to the void that would exist in the bible if all references to serving the poor were removed.

How can we call ourselves Christians if we do nothing when we openly see starving and hurting people around the Globe, let alone in our own backyard? The book tells us to expand upon our Sunday visits to worship and really get out there to help those in need. Calling ourselves Christians while knowing people are dying throughout the world is empty, at best.

It’s a profound book, as it forces us look deep within ourselves and know we could do so much more to help those in need.

Stu Phillips read this book, and it changed him forever. It opened his eyes to God's true calling and made Stu look within himself on many levels. It was then Stu had a profound conversation with God, and Stu knew what he had to do. Stu had to sell his most beloved personal treasure called the Moriah Ranch.

Stu explained how he questioned God's message but knew deep down in his soul it was God's will to do so. Stu confided to his wife Robin what God had planned and she, too, knew what had to be done.

Stu put his ranch on the real estate market, and something magical happened soon afterward. The State of Wyoming decided to buy it, making this the largest land acquisition in the history of the Wyoming Land Investment Department.

Stu and Robin had done it; they had the ranch under contract and could use the proceeds of the sale to help so many starving families around the globe. It was about this time when Stu and I first met on Main Street in Chelsea. Stu had invited me to hunt on his ranch because he appreciated my writings on the outdoors. It was such an honor that I still wonder why I was invited; I didn’t think I earned the right to go.

What the public didn’t know was that I initially turned Stu down with his invite to hunt the Moriah Ranch. I had explained to Stu that my daughter was only 8 months old at the time, and I also had two boys as well. Being gone for 10 days would be too hard on my wife, and I just couldn’t do it.

I thanked Stu for the invitation but asked if I could push it off a year when my daughter was a bit older. I’ll never forget Stu’s answer, “there won’t be a next year Bud, I’ve sold the ranch so it’s now or never.” Stu filled me in on the details on how the book changed his life, among other things.

I went home and told my wife of our conversation and she told me to have a great time in Wyoming; she wanted me to go. The three-part series I wrote describes, in detail, the majesty of the Moriah Ranch and the wonderful experiences we had that year. But, there was one thing I left out in those detailed stories.

Stu led the way while we hunted the ranch covering miles of territory up and down the mountains. Throughout those experiences, it was always Stu leading the way, and I lost count how many times I’d focus on Stu while he guided me through the mountains.

I’d look at him from time to time in awe knowing what he and his family were giving up. There were so many times I wanted to stop and talk to him, to thank him for such a glorious experience. More than anything, I wanted Stu to know that he didn’t waste his time in inviting me there.

I knew how magical this place was and I looked up to him because of it. Stu will tell anyone listening that this is not about him but rather the Glory of God. I’d say he’s right, but leading by example helps others in questioning their own existence and relationship with God.

The hunt was over, the ranch was closed up for the season, and we made our trek home after 10 amazing days. I wanted to get back to my wife and hold her, tell her how much I loved her and try to learn from what I had experienced.

This was so much more than a hunt, it was a journey that I was so graciously invited to witness through the Phillips family and the Holy Spirit.

See a YouTube video of Stu Phillips discussing his decision to sell the ranch and give to World Vision here.

Rick Taylor warmly welcomes your comments and story ideas. Feel free to contact him at .


Jim Pryce

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

Great story Rick. We all must come to appreciate the days the Lord gives us afield with family & friends. To see a Sunrise or a Sunset, is something a lot of people do not encounter in their busy lives. Stu's message to give back to others & share what he has is a fantastic message. Thanks, & God bless


Thu, Aug 29, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Great article Rick - I had the pleasure of working closely with Robin for 10 years while she was praticing law in Ann Arbor. There was a hole left in my day when she decided to retire and spend more time with Stu. But obviously, their time has been well spent. I have not met too many others more dedicated to the glory of God than Stu and Robin. What courage to walk the walk, and what an example to their family and the rest of us. Again, thanks for sharing.