Story written and submitted by NYSOWA member Ed Noonan:
Early this past spring I got a call from Dave Vanderzee, owner of the Easton View Outfitters Ranch in Rensselaer County asking if I could help him with a very important hunt. He had received a call from the Jones family in Vermont about fulfilling their son Mikey’s wish to deer hunt with his dad. His mother, Wannetta explained that Mikey had some severe health problems and heard that Easton View and has hosted several Wounded Warrior hunts, one of which I helped with. Easton View is an ideal set up for these type hunts. Obvious these hunts are paid hunts but not this one for Mikey.
I told Dave I would help and as soon as I got off the phone I emailed all the board members of the New York Outdoor Writers Assn. explaining Mikey’s hunting wish and requested a $1,000 donation to offset some of the costs. I also emailed Katie Mitchell, Corporate Public Relations for Bass Pro Shops asking her for hunting gear. Three days later I received a box of Red Head hunting camo that would cover them from head to toe.
At noon on Thursday October 12 Dave and I met the Jones family. Mikey was eager and was ready to go but two things had to be done; one was to put on their Red Head outfits and the other was for them to check the sights on their guns. Dave thought that the best gun for Mikey would be a .243 and he handed it to him at the range and pointed to the target out about 100 yards out. I honestly was surprised when Mikey’s first shot touched the red quarter sized bullseye. “THIS KID CAN SHOOT”
Before leaving Mikey gave Dave a hug and “Thank you” and handed him two gifts that he had wrapped in camo paper. The first one he opened was an engraved plaque thanking him for making this hunt a reality. The smile on this young man’s face turned on the tears for both Dave and I. The second gift was a blanket with painted deer on it.
TIME TO HUNT
The Jones family then got into a four seat KUBOTA RTV and I followed with the other one. For the first hour we rode around the ranch’s perimeter and saw elk, sika, fallow and whitetail deer, Texas Dall and also a glimpse at a rare Piebald deer. We then climbed into an elevated box blind overlooking a large field. That afternoon we saw a lot of animals that included an awesome 21 point whitetail that was not to be shot. But that afternoon there was no shooting.
At dinner that evening Mikey was a bit worried about getting his deer but I told him tomorrow we had all day and I promised him I would get him one; even if we had to stay out all night with a flashlight. He laughed but I personally was worried. I WANTED THIS YOUNG MAN TO GET A DEER.
The next morning started very slowly sitting in the blind with only a few sightings of out of range whitetails. Doug, one of the ranch hands, volunteered to put on a few deer drives and although he did move deer but none came within range. “Are we going to get a deer Ed?” Mickey said with tears in his eyes. I had to get this great loveable kid a deer!
Time to do some riding and we were back in the Kubota and started again around the perimeter but all we saw were elk and Texas Dalls. We were just about to enter the swamp when I saw movement in the high brush and it was a deer. I got Mikey ready and when it came out it was a big doe. “No horns” Mikey said. But when I saw it was a Piebald I explained to Mikey that this would be quite a trophy. It was a 162 yard shot and it dropped immediately. I think I was crying before Mikey this time – especially when I saw that big smile. And now it was lunch time and I was relieved now that the pressure was off.
After a leisurely lunch we all climbed in the Kubota to see if we could get dad a deer or one of the Texas Dall. We made a trip around the preserve and as we were coming down through a field I notice deer with just their heads sticking out of the heavy brush; and they both had antlers. Sneaking into position dad turned to Mikey and said: “I have shot plenty of deer Mikey; you take him.” His son was reluctant but when I told him it was a special 8 pointer he changed his mind. Another one shot, this time at 170 yards Mikey put him down and we all were excited. What was special about this deer? It was a Piebald buck. I wonder how many hunters have taken both a Piebald doe and a buck ON THE SAME DAY. Mikey you are now in a very special hunting group.
There were a lot of wet eyes that afternoon and I was ONE VERY HAPPY GUIDE. I would like to thank the Jones family for letting me hunt with them and their VERY SPECIAL SON.