Next to October, April is my favorite month, filled with fond memories of fishing trips with dad and grandfather, getting a new BB gun, cause my birthday is the 15th, and then the most elusive, sacred memory of all: My first wingbone! Roger Sockwell, next door neighbor, gave me a wing bone while sharing a stories of calling up gobblers to within feet. It was worse that a Stephen King horror movie for getting my blood pumped! This kid couldn't sleep! That event ended up costing Roger, for my brother and I were over there every day shooting BB guns, pleading to go on bird hunts, while making plenty of noise on our wingbones.
What a pure thrill and true taste of life is that for a young man? Cannot be equaled or bettered as well as the feeling that Roger got, for he continued to take my brother and I on many such outdoor experiences. I know that now because I am quite involved with D.A.R.E where we take young, exemplary kids of their first hunt as well as some that are interested but have no one to take them. It is truly by giving that one receives and so goes the testimony of any man or woman that took a someone for a hunt of special meaning.
Drew, Tony, Todd
ENTER: Drew McCartney, my turkey hunting companion for the second week of April, my birthday week! Drew is president of PCBA (Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America) as well as quite involved with Pope and Young, NRA and Kansas Bowhunters. I had known of Drew for a while but first had the opportunity to meet him at ATA. Drew is like spring, before you know it everyone around him are blooming! OK, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.
We had a turkey hunt planned for months on the Wullfe Cedar Creek ranch near Brady, Texas. We, being Drew, Pat Hunt of Pro Video Hunter and myself. I am currently a columnist for bohunting.net and bowhunting coordinator for Trophy Quest Outdoor TV, and one of the things I had hoped to accomplish is bring youth and physically challenged hunts to public TV on the Men's Channel. The ranch has the geographical marker that signifies the exact center of Texas. Being a bit of a hopeless, sentimental romantic, I chose this ranch for our hunt.
Not only does the ranch have tons of Rio Grande turkey, but owner Mike McCullar and staff are childhood friends of mine. They operate an extremely nice, comfortable lodge what we'd call around here, "All Star" (note more that 5 star, we're talking Texas) and chef Dean Gibson cooks the best SW food you can imagine.
I picked Pat up at DFW airport and then met Drew at a local sporting goods store to get our licenses. We then all headed out hiway 67 toward Wulffe Cedar Creek ranch.
We arrived in time to hunt, but chose to ready and familiarize gear, check cameras and bows and just enjoy the incredible view at the lodge. As we tuned up and shot in our bows, people were not sure how to handle Drew's tightly grouped arrows shot with a mouth tab. It was beautiful to watch. The arrows continued one after another in cener of the target, I believe we all shared a sense of pride in that silent moment.
Drew, hitting the middle
Our hunt was a 2 1/2 day hunt. I had acquired a local turkey caller and good friend Todd Harmon to guide for Drew. Todd was excited for two reasons, one because he loves to hunt turkey and two, because he spent a major part of his life in a medical situation (just like me) that dictated he might never walk again and he had beaten it. Not that Drew needed a guide, as he is a most experienced, competent hunter, but because I needed it filmed for Trophy Quest TV and Todd would not take no for an answer. Beside my Trophy Quest cameramen had an important, last minute change of plans. So I was it.
The vibes kept getting better but no results that had put any gobblers in the cooler. Each day Todd and Drew worked birds, several birds, but either cattle, ranch hand, a hot hen or Murphy, just seemed to screw it up. Sometimes it was a matter of yards. The boys saw lots of turkey all day but couldn't get a shot off.The bluebonnets started to bloom and the sunsets got later and prettier in central Texas. No birds on the ground but things just don't get bad on a trip like this.
Meanwhile, I had Pat Hunt in a Double Bull right off the runway and told him to hold on. Robert Hoague of Bowhunting.net had set here last year and took photos of over 50 strutting toms. The assumed vision came to fruition just before 9 am, the second part of my prediction. The only thing wrong were they were Jakes. Not very interested in our decoys, the birds meandered within yards of the Matrix blind. I couldn't believe Pat opted to wait but admired him at the same time. Pat hails from Georgia and this was his first Rio encounter and he had his sights set on a longbeard. Although the wind was gusting at over 30 mph at times, I assured him he would get another chance.
By hunts end, Pat had passed again on jakes and had longbeards within yards. Something just always happened to prevent the shot. I took an opportunity to hunt and film myself and had a tom at 5 yards but couldn't get the camera on him. He kept us both out of the movies. Otherwise he and one of four other toms, on a separate occasion, would have either had to "duck or bleed."
The last night we had the pleasure of sitting around the lodge and really getting to know Drew. I'm not talking about his hunts for lion and moose, and they were great to listen to, but about what beats in his heart. Staff, other hunters and I all circled this usually quiet, modest man with a certainty we were about to hear something important and fun.
Earlier that day Drew had explained the origination and purpose of PCBA. This night he covered the ground from his own perspective and rewarding experiences. He glowed a bit more after recounting each event. It changed your temperature.
Drew had lost his arm due to an electrical accident years ago, The accident did nothing but enhance his focus on his love of bowhunting and the magic of a sunrise. By the time Drew had given us his story of the accident, the recovery and involvement and workings of the PCBA, we had become an even better audience in several ways.
Drew went to his favorite part, the part about seeing people in wheel chairs, people with terminal diseases, some even blind, having the experience of a bowhunt. He spoke about their unimaginable appreciation and happiness. By the time Drew had told his second or third story, the room had taken on a glorious feeling.
By the last story, I think PCBA had close to a half dozen new members and numerous financial and personal promises for assistance. Point: PCBA will never ask for, but do need money, but more importantly, they need able bodied people to help physically challenged people. Like you I, they dream of and love to bowhunt, and treasure the escitment, the smells adn the sights of the hunt. But they can't experience what many of us take for granted, without some help! These are our brothers and sisters and we have the chance to make a differance. Most of us are concerned about keeping our rights and doing something for our sport to make it more attractive to new members and keep the anti's at bay. Well, HERE YOU GO! I challenged each of you to contact PCBA and ask what you can do to help this worthwhile group.
Truly, for every dollar and hour I have put into any similar cause, my quality of life has been enhanced. This is the way our Creator works. Once again, it is by giving that we receive.
FOOTNOTE: This past year D.A.R.E. was sponsored by Ted Nugent's "Spirit of the Wild," TV show. The previous year by Texas Fish and Game. This year looks like the show will be put on by Double Bull and hosted by Fred EIchler and myself.
*Special thanks to:
Mike McCullar for donating this hunt and Randall, Bubba, Todd and Dean for their help and involvement. To book a great turkey hunt at the Wullfe Cedar Creek call: 512-474-9422 or 512-970-5425.
To Double Bull Archery, Delta Decoys, Predator camo, Nikon, Primos and Cass Creek calls for their donations to the hunt.
And to Drew McCartney and the Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America for sharing with us such a memorable good hunt and experience and for their wonderful cause. Contact PCBA at wwww.pcba-inc.org.