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Here's a post from a hunting bud of mine, thought I'd pass this along:

First and Last hunt


By: Denny L. Vasquez

There was a soft shuffling of feet, then a low, muffled cough. Next came a slight creaking as someone shifted around, trying to find a more comfortable position in which to sit. Finally came the first whisper of the day from my anxious young hunter friend , "Mr. Denny, will I see my buck today?"

The early morning Light began to slink into the fog that shrouded the landscape before us, and small songbirds flitted from bush to bush, welcoming the new day. I slowly leaned over to my 13 year old charge, and putting a conforting hand on his shoulder said , "I'm sure we will see your buck today. You just have to be ready when Mr. Chris tells you to shoot. OK?" I exchanged a knowing look with his father before returning my attention to the video camera I was using to tape the hunt.

This was the third sunrise we had watched together, my young hunter and I , as we sought his dream buck. The time in the stand was the easy part.

Each morning in the hunting camp, he had gotten up an hour earlier that the rest of us so he could take the medical treatments that would allow him pursue his dream hunt. This was the third morning I had rolled over in my bunk, pretending to sleep and give him some space and privacy. I would listen to him moan in pain as his mother tried to find a spot that wasn't as tender as all the rest in which to administer his daily IV of drugs, which allowed him some semblance of a normal life. you see, my young charge suffered from an advanced case of Hodgkin's disease.

Hodgkins disease is a type of lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system. Because there is a lymph tissue in many parts of the body, hodgkin's disease can start almost anywhere, and if not found early can spread to almost any organ or tissue in the body. my hunter's cancer had gone undetected before being accidentally discovered during a yearly check up for football, and by then it had already spread.

At the time I received the request for help in arranging his dream hunt, the doctors had predicted that he had less than three months to live. Through the graciousness of our host we accelerated his hunting trip, and here we were, hoping for success in a hunting blind on a low-fence south Texas Ranch.

Appearing early that third morning was a flock of Rio Grande turkeys. They slowly made their way out of the mist;ethereal apparitions that seemed to float on top of the ground fog as they moved toward the corn we had spread on the ground. As they began to peck their way across the field, they were joined by a herd of javelina, which because of their short legs appeared to materialize straight out of the fog.

Chris, the rancher who was hosting us, leaned over and told our young hunter that he could shoot a turkey or javelina if he wanted to, and we could try for whitetail later. He replied, "thanks, but no thanks, I came after my buck, and that is what I want to shoot." Chris and I exchanged a knowing look, both of us hoping that a buck, any buck, would make an appearance this morning."

As we were watching the turkeys and javelina, a doe stuck her head out of a distant brush line, about 125 yards down the send-ero. She cautiously searched the open area before slowly making her way towards the feeding turkeys. She had almost reached them when my young hunter leaned over toward his dad and whispered that he thought he was going to be sick. His dad shook his head knowingly and pulled out the plastic bag he had brought along just for such a situation.

The medicine he had to take everyday often made him sick, and Chris and I watched the doe, turkeys, and javelina high-tail it for parts unknown as our friend endured his all to familiar retching. Looking at each other, Chris and I knew that his chance of taking a good buck was that much slimmer now.

When he had finished, he looked out at the open field and asked where all of the animals had gone. Chris told him that it was just time for them to move on, but that we would sit a while longer to see what else might come in to taste our corn.

My Young charge nodded slowly, positioned his arm on the windowsill of the blind, and laid his head down. His father reached over tand rustled his hair, staring at him with a look that any parent would recognize. He saw me watching, smiled, and whispered to me that even if his son didn't get a deer, he'd finally had a chance to do something he always talked about - going deer hunting on a real hunting ranch.

It was about 30 minutes later that Chris noticed the doe coming back out to feed. i asked if we should wake our young hunter up and he said ,"No, let him rest until a buck come in." Several more does, young spikes, and fork-horned bucks made their way up into the field. Suddenly, they all stopped and looked back down the sendero. Chris told our young hunters father to wake him up because a buck was coming in.

Just as we got our friend up and awake, a good 10 pointer stepped out of the brush line about 250 yards away. You could feel the tension in the stand as we collectively held our breath. Would he come closer? The range limit we had set for our young hunter, based up his timeat the range was 125 yards.
Our hearts continued clamoring in our chests as the anticipation grew stronger. I glanced over to see how the young man was doing and saw that he had a great big grin on his face. He looked over at me, giving me a wink and thumbs up before whispering ,"I'm ready when you are!"

As the buck slowly moved closer, I heard his dad murmuring a prayer; I guess that the power that be heard his request because the buck came to within 50 yards of our stand before stopping and turning broadside to eat. Then everything began moving in slow motion.

Chris whispered that it was OK to shoot. Our young hunter whispered "Yeah!" I was trying to watch both the deer and our shooter. His Dad ws whispering "Now son, shoot him now!" Then came a resounding BOOM!!! as our young hunter pulled the trigger on his .270. Watching through the video camera I saw his shot hit home, and the old buck reared up before falling on his side, never to move again. Then as I turned to pat the young hunter on the should he grinned and said, "I did it Mr. Denny, I did it! I finally got my Buck!"

Pandomonium broke out in the stand, Chris and I were jumping up and slapping our hunter's father on the back, high-fiving each other and shouting out our joy that our hunter had gotten his deer. His father got ont he radio back to the lodge, telling his wife that their son's lifelong dream had finally come true.

As his father turned toward Chris, I looked down and noticed that our young hunter had laid his head back on his arm, and I though he had gone back to sleep. Slowly I sat back down to look at him closer, and I noticed that there was something terribly wrong.

I shouted that there was a problem, and Chris and the boy's father stopped their celebration and turned to look at our young hunter. His father eyes began to tear up as he slowly sat down next to his son. He softly called his name but received no reply; the boy was not breathing. Then, looking into my eyes he gently reached out to shake his sons shoulder. At his touch, our young hunters body tilted slightly before losing balance and collapsing gently into my lap.

My eyes began to tear up, and his father shook my shoulder and said, "No, don't cry for him. We knew that he might not have lived long enough to have even made this trip, but he did. And now he has had the chance to take the dream buck he always wanted. He died doing what he always dreamed about and not laying up in bed in a hospital somewhere with all those needles in his arms. No, don't cry for him. Be happy for him, because he got to do something that most of us never will: he realized his dream in life."

No one will ever now why he was taken from us so early, or why he'll never have the opportunity to accomplish the things he aspire to. He loved being a boy scout, and he planned to earn his Eagle Rank. he was a typical teenager with plans for high school and college, and he planned to be a doctor so that he could help others who suffered as he did. He once told me that he thought God had let him suffer so much pain, so the when he finally became a doctor he would be able to understand his patients' needs that much better.

His pain ended, but it had ended surrounded by the natural world, as he participated in the circle of life. He accomplished one of his goals in life that morning in texas, fighting through the pain and adversity to accomplish it; reminding us all that it's not the length of the journey, it's the character you display along the way that is really important.

Red X Angler
13,664 Posts
yeah, that's a tear jerker...
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