Just back from the second annual Pender Possible Hunt hosted by the men of Pender Outdoor Ministries and sponsored by Van Products and Karl Reichardt with Wildlife Preservation Specialists. (If you need a great taxidermist, Karl's the man to call.)
Once again the hunters were all lodged at Camp Kirkwood. The beautiful fall foliage and lakeside lodges were welcomed sights and every one was so appreciative of the wonderful meals provided by Pender Outdoor Ministries and the staff of Camp Kirkwood.
We had a great hunt even though it rained a lot during the evening on Thursday and on Friday. The big buck was taken by Ricky Morrow seen here being congratulated by Karl as he awarded a free mount as the prize for getting the trophy deer.
Even though these guys took top honors, the real prizes were in the smiles I saw throughout the 3 day hunt. Who could be prouder than Sean Houston? The father of three boys, Hunter, Cole and Luke, ages 15,13 and 8 respectively.
Cole has been fighting cancer and has had to have numerous brain surgeries over the past few months. I'm told that after each one, the first question from him was always "Do I still get to go hunting?" And his anticipation was rewarded when he shot his first deer using a special rig provided by NC Handicapped Sportsmen (NCHS) that allowed Cole to control everything by using a joy stick apparatus. Not far away but in a separate stand, his Dad and brothers watched the joyous shot but not losing sight of everyone's ultimate goal, his Dad and Hunter reacted quick enough for Hunter to get a doe within seconds after Cole took the buck. It was Hunter's first deer also. The next day we all agreed that Hunter was appropriately named when he shot another doe!
Another one doing alot of smiling was Debra McKenna. I first met Debra's husband Ray, back in March when they attended the Dixie Deer Classic and stopped by to see the GoShichi wheelchair accessible truck that Van Products had just acquired. That outing was also when Debra first met Tony Robinson. Tony is a retired game warden and currently the Vice President of the NCHS. He asked Debra was she a hunter? When she said no, Tony set out to give her husband a new hunting partner. Ray may never be able to hunt alone again! Debra's hooked and got a nice spike to brag about with her very first shot.
And then there's Lee Hogan. Lee and his neighbor and hunting partner, Bob Pershelli came all the way from the Charlotte area to hunt and I was fortunate to be able to use one of our vans to help get them in and out of the woods. And boy did we go into the woods! The first evening was unproductive and quite disheartening for Lee. By the time we got back to camp he was so tired and hurting so much that all he wanted to do was take his meds and crawl into bed. Lee's journey includes losing his home and belongings when Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans. His dependency on a leg braces and a wheel chair date back to an injury while working as a roofer. Top that off with an aneurysm that is truly a ticking time bomb and a recent diagnosis of cancer and you can get a sense of the courage that it takes for him just to face each day. Lee hadn't been in the woods hunting in a very long time. He had no way. He had no gun. But then he found out about the NC Handicapped Sportsmen and started planning to do something he thought he'd never do again. With Bob's help and a borrowed gun from Tony Robinson, I took Lee back into the woods. Way back into the woods. We actually drove 7.2 miles down a dirt road/path that runs along side the Cape Fear River.
The land owner was a little concerned about the Van Product's Chrysler Entervan making it through some of the mud and muck and I don't think I've ever gotten a van that dirty, but we made it and both Lee and Bob were rewarded with two deer a piece over the course of the weekend. Even though it felt like it took an eternity to get to the sight where the owner had both a tree stand for Bob and a ground blind positioned just for Lee, it was truly a deer haven and all along the trek I could since Lee's anticipation.
We could just tell it was going to be a good outing, and in less than 45 minutes, Lee took a four point buck and Bob using black powder took a doe just a little while later. I even shot one, course it was with my camera, but I felt lucky just to get the shot.
The experience was the best dose of medicine Lee Hogan could have ever been given. His testimony to us all at the closing meeting didn't leave many dry eyes. Bob's having bypass surgery in just a couple of weeks and he certainly brings a whole new level to the meaning of "good neighbor." It is such a rewarding experience to represent Van Products as we support the endeavors of the North Carolina Handicap Sportsmen association.
Every time I'm involved with these hunts and see all the volunteers as they help with weighing and skinning and all the effort that these landowners put forth to insure that each disabled hunter will have an ideal opportunity for success, I know that I am truly blessed to be able to witness the very best of humanity.
It takes a lot of time and effort to make an event like this successful and the land owners and volunteers and folks like Sean Horsely, a wounded warrior and the Hunt Master for this hunt, can't be thanked enough for all that they do.
There are so many that I have left unnamed and many that I didn't even have the opportunity to meet. The Third Annual Pender Possible Hunt is already in the works and I look forward to having another opportunity to meet you then. To everyone involved and until next time, thank you and Good Hunting.