Terminally ill youth get hunting wish

By Larry S. Moore

The Statesman Journal our of Salem, Oregon has published a great story about a non-profit group called Hunt of a Lifetime:

    After hearing testimony that was emotional, even tearful, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday approved issuing up to 25 free hunting tags to be used by terminally ill youngsters.

    Danny Benson of Klamath Falls, the Oregon ambassador for the non-profit group Hunt of a Lifetime, broke down several times while describing the experiences of one of the two participants in the first such hunts in 2005.

    "His dream was to come out West, preferably Oregon or Wyoming, to hunt mule deer," Benson said in describing Troy Brewer of Pennsylvania. "He found out about Hunt of a Lifetime in October of 2005, turned in his application and was accepted into the program."

We are all familiar with various groups that provide special trips for very ill or terminally ill young people. Many such groups will not include hunting trips in their agenda. It is great to see Hunt of a Lifetime filling that void and making something special happen for these youth. The people involved in this effort certainly deserve a hearty thank you and a gold star in Heaven.

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As I read the story, I thought about a different perspective. I had to stop and think about how busy our lives and schedules are. I am very guilty of this. I experienced this last weekend as the Greene County Fish and Game Association held our annual picnic. I made it to shoot sporting clays on Saturday but could not get there on Sunday. Unfortunately my three children were also busy with their families and volunteering to rebuild a trailer for an upcoming Ohio youth outdoor camp. Those activities resulted in them not getting a chance to shoot with me. It happens to all of us.

Two of the youth attending the outdoor camp the last weekend of August come from families that do not shoot or hunt. My daughter and son are sponsoring these kids. We hope to mentor them after the camp. One has completed the Ohio Hunter Education Course and the other has not. The goal of these very healthy and normal kids is to go deer hunting in Ohio this fall. We are fortunate to have private property to hunt and often invite new hunters. Over the years I have acquired some youth shotguns and muzzleloaders especially for the purpose of taking young people hunting.

We will be using the Apprentice Hunting License to take one of these youth hunting. It is a new tool that permits the purchase of an Ohio hunting license without first completing the Ohio Hunter Education Course. It is designed to aid getting youth into the field, under the guidance of an experienced mentor, to try hunting or trapping.

The volunteers who make Hunt of a Lifetime happen for those very special young people are heroes in my eyes. However, many of us have opportunities to take young people hunting. The State of Ohio, based on the requests of sportsmen, has provided the tool to assist us. It is up to us to set aside a little time for the young people and to share our heritage. We get wrapped up in activities of scouting, putting up deer stands, and pursuing that big buck we’ve watched for several years. I’d love to take a trophy Ohio Big Buck. Maybe someday I will. This year, I am taking some time for a couple of youngsters to have their first experience. We may not get a wall-hanger trophy but I’ve got a hunch we may have something even more special!

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award.

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