October was a blessed month for the Heart of Texas Chapter of the Buckmasters American Deer Foundation. They conducted two very successful special Life Hunts and a special area youth hunt.
On October 23 and 24, the chapter was privileged to sponsor a Life Hunt in conjunction with the 5F Ranch for Erica Landers. Erica was diagnosed with cancer at age of six. She was not given much hope of survival, but her family's faith overwhelmed the disease. Erica is now 22 years old and is free of cancer. She will graduate from college this coming May.
When Erica and her dad Walt arrived at the 5F Ranch October 23. They were greeted by ranch managers Lane and Pattii Laning, their gracious hosts. Everyone was amazed by the beauty of the 5F Ranch.
Erica got to do a little target practicing before the hunt that evening, and she proved to be an excellent shot. Lane guided Erica on the hunt and it was not long until a nice management buck stepped into the food plot.
As her dad looked on, Erica carefully took aim at the buck. With one squeeze of the trigger, her dream of harvesting her first whitetail buck came true. Everyone on site shed tears of joy as memories were made. Larry and Connie Hart from the Heart of Texas Chapter captured every moment on camera. It was a special day for everyone.
On October 27 Tim Schoen, BADF Heart of Texas Chapter president, and chapter volunteer Chris Wolf, took another Life Hunter on his first buck hunt.
Dustin Becktold, 13 years-old, is another area youth battling cancer. He was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in 2006 and underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2006. He lost his spleen to cancer just before the transplant, and his only chance of survival was to find umbilical cord match for stem cell treatments. A 6/6 marker match was found and treatment was started immediately at Cooks Children's Medical Center.
Rob Moon, a businessman and local rancher, contacted the chapter about donating a hunt for a Life Hunter. His call was a gift from heaven since the chapter needed a sponsored hunt for Dustin.
So, Tim and Chris scheduled the hunt days at the ranch for Dustin and his father, Duane. They arrived around 3 p.m. to settle into a ground blind.
As the sun slowly sank on the horizon, the deer started moving into the food plot area. Tim spotted a large-frame buck headed toward the shooting lane and positioned Dustin for the shot.
As they waited for the deer to turn broadside, Tim told Dustin to take solid aim on the big whitetail buck. The shot was true and Dustin harvested one of the largest whitetail bucks in the Heart of Texas Chapter's history!
The buck was a big mainframe 5x4 with a split P3 on the left side, a kicker off his left side P2, and what could be called a droptine off the tip of the left main beam. The buck had a total of 13 measurable points, an 18 1/2-inch inside spread and will score roughly 143 inches on the BTR system, truly a nice first buck for this warrior, and lasting memories for father and son.
Each year, the chapter helps sponsor in conjunction with the Texas Game Warden Association and Hemphill Family Ranch, the Coleman County Youth Hunt. It's held on opening day of the Texas Youth Hunt weekend.
Larry Hart, BADF Heart of Texas Chapter Disabled Hunter and Youth director, was on hand to help with a hunter safety presentation, chapter BADF gifts for the youth and to help guide the hunts.
Larry teamed up with Jonathan Hernandez, a 10-year-old Coleman County boy who had never fired a rifle, much less hunted whitetail deer before. "We had a crash course on hunter safety and shot placement in the blind before first light," Larry said.
At dawn, Larry saw a big bodied buck headed toward the feeding area. The buck was a 5-year-old, heavy-horned, mainframe 8-pointer with crab claws and a sharp turned-in main beam. This was a perfect management buck to take out of the Hemphill herd.
Larry quickly positioned the young hunter for a shot. When he told Jonathan to get ready to shoot the big buck, the entire blind started to shake. Larry had to hold on to the front window and hug the boy tightly to steady his aim at the deer.
Talking him through the motions, Larry asked, "Can you see him in the scope? Have you got the crosshairs steady behind the front shoulder?"
The boy whispered, "Yes, sir!"
"Ease the safety off like we practiced and squeeze the trigger," Larry said.
Jonathan squeezed the trigger, the shot rang out, and the buck was down! They high-fived and celebrated the young boy's harvest of his first whitetail buck.
The Heart of Texas Chapter thanks all the area businesses, sportsmen and sportswomen, and the area ranches who sponsor the chapter's special hunts. Without the support from all these wonderful people the chapter could not make dreams come true for these special young people.
Sharing skills, knowledge, and compassion with the hunters of tomorrow is what the BADF is all about. Giving to those who are less fortunate, restoring confidence into those who thought they might never get back into the great outdoors again, sharing in the everlasting memories, and shedding tears of joy in their happiness truly makes for a great day in the woods.
God bless the BADF and all our community supporters!