Submitted by NYSOWA member George Franke:
Back in April 2014, Adirondack-Catskill Safari Club International Chapter (ACSCI) President, Larry Steiner contacted me about finding an individual for the SCI Pathfinder Hunt. The all-inclusive, all expenses paid hunt would be for a disabled youngster, age 11-17. A trophy red stag or rocky mountain elk would be the quarry at the Laurentain Wildlife Estate in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada in the fall of 2014.
Thanks here begin with the New York State Conservation Council for putting the blurb in Grassroots News, advertising my quest for a young hunter who would qualify for the Pathfinder Hunt. From the notice seen in Grassroots News by members of the Trenton Fish and Game Club, Holland Patent, NY then contacted Stan Kocyba, the dad of a young disabled hunter who attended Boy Scout troop meetings at the club. Stan was one of four applicants I received, to which I passed on to President Steiner and the Pathfinder Hunt Selection Committee.
Unfortunately Stanley was not chosen by SCI for the Pathfinder Hunt.
In June, Stan and Stanley attended an ACSCI monthly meeting held in Poland, NY. All the members of ACSCI immediately took a shine to young Stanley who is 12, lives in Remsen, NY and suffers from both muscular dystrophy and pseudoachondropasia (pseudoachondroplasia is a type of short-limb dwarfism). In talking with Stanley it was learned that he was in the Boy Scouts, was an avid hunter and had a dream of shooting a ram. ACSCI member Bill Mayer literally took the “ram by the horns” and began the process of fulfilling Stanley's dream.
Bill met with other members of ACSCI and discussed putting together the “Stanley's Dream Hunt”. As Bill has hunted several times with Cody Mikalunas of Wild West Trophy Hunts in West Edmeton, NY, he inquired with him as to what it would take to get a ram, have the hunt and make this young man smile from ear to ear.
Cody and wife Cindy Mikalunas have owned the 180 acre high fence preserve in West Edmeston since 2001. Currently it is stocked with bison, elk, red stag, fallow deer and rams. Other species are obtained through many of Cody's contacts, thus many other animals can be harvested there. The operation is open from September 1st to mid-March. This family-oriented, family-owned business caters to whatever the hunter desires...from meals and lodging to caping and butchering the game. Its a First Class operation with Cody as the only guide on the property and they only take one group at a time.
On October 18, 2014 ACSCI members Stan Swears, Vinny Miglori, Richard Hazard, Larry Steiner, Ron Meek, Bill Mayer and George Franke got together with Cody and Cindy Mikalunas and presented Stan and Stanley Kocyba with a ram hunt. We all gathered in the lodge to share hunt stories, asked plenty of questions of the Mikalunas' operation and dove right in to Cindy's homemade apple pies.
The morning rains didn't damper any spirits as Cody put Stanley in the front seat of the UTV and the rest of the members and guests piled in the tag-a-long trailer and took a tour of the preserve, viewing all the animals and looking over the ram that Stanley would later track down. They all returned for some warm beverages and to get ready for the hunt.
About noon, as the rains subsided, the hunt began. Everyone hung back a ways while Stan, Stanley and Cody made a slow stalk on the ram. At 38 yards, Stanley let go with a shot from him Savage .243 and one shot put the ram down and the High Fives began! By 1 pm the ram was up on the game pole, tons of photos were taken and the skinning and quartering began. Just then the skies opened and the downpour began, but it did not dampen anyones spirits. Everyone on hand was elated at Stanley's success and Cindy's pots of fallow deer chili and fallow deer stew were served up warming the happy crowd.
No trophy hunt is ever complete without putting some long-lasting memory on the wall, thus Stanley was notified that Mike Vickerson of Adirondack Wildlife Studio in Caroga, NY would be mounting the rams head for him, and Larry Steiner made the announcement that ACSCI would be paying for his membership in the International and also making him a Life Member of the Adirondack-Catskill SCI Chapter.