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GUIDING ADVENTURES WITH RYAN
a mentally challenged hunter and friend

By Butch


In 03, we received a call from John Viles out of Cleveland TX in response to my Houston newspaper add to go hunting with Butch & Wendys Hunting Adventures in the hill country of Texas. John explained to us that he and his two boys were meat hunters and would like to fill their freezer with venison. He also took some time to explain to us that his oldest son Ryan is mentally challenged. Which in turn, being his first whitetail hunt, it could be a challenge for him and us. He also explained that they had made several trips to the rifle range and he thought he was prepared for his first hunt. We assured John that this was not a problem. We have plenty of deer to choose from, and enough deer activity so as to not get bored. Upon their arrival to Kerrville, we met the meat hunting trio John, Evan, and Ryan at six A.M. We assured the excited team the harvest rate at the Cedar Canyon Ranch for whitetail does is about 99%. After meeting Ryan, I realized what his dad meant when he said Ryan is a special young man. To this day, Ryan is a very special person in our hearts. After putting John and Ryan in a pop up blind, and Evan on his own, Wendy and I hurried back to camp. Waiting to hear shots and a call on the radio to help on the retrieving of the harvest, no shots were heard. I think they were so flabbergasted at the population of the deer, they knew their evening hunt would be a success. That day sitting around the campfire and fishing in the pond, exchanging hunting stories, we became instant friends with the trio. We did the same set up this evening, but this time, the lead flew. Evan dropped his doe, and Ryan unfortunately wounded his, so the search was on. Following the blood trail in the dark, we realized she was hurt, but still on the move. Luckily we found her down, but it took a second shot from John to complete the harvest. I could tell by the look on Ryans face, it was one of great disappointment. No one wants an animal to suffer, especially Ryan.
The next morning I could tell doubt had set in his mind concerning his ability to make a clean harvest. Ryan and Evan set together with the intentions that Ryan would take the first shot. As the does approached, Ryan complained of his shoulder hurting and handed the gun to Evan and asked him to take his second doe for him.
Returning to camp, Evan told us the story. In my heart, I felt that I had cheated or mentally hurt a first time hunter. Wendy feeling the same ran to town with the camera like she was on a mission. Returning from town with a framed 8x10 of Ryan and his doe, Ryans mood changed immediately. Luckily smiles returned to the face of the young hunter. A week after the trios hunt, we received a call from John thanking us and telling us the story of how everyone Ryan saw, had to see his doe picture, no matter what they were involved in, or who they were. John informed us that in 04, the trio would return, but later on to our disappointment, Ryan had backed out. Wendy again sat out on another mission, sending DVDs of their 03 and 04 hunts. At the end of the DVD, Wendy and I told Ryan how much we missed his company in the 04 hunt, and to please return in 05. I badly wanted a second chance to make Ryans hunt a special hunt with nothing but good memories. Wendys plan worked. But this time, it was Ryans special weekend for a buck hunt, with just him and his dad.
After hand shakes and hugs, a mutual decision was made that Ryan and I would sit together, and Wendy and John would set 100 yards behind us and film out of a hay bale blind. John agreed that it would be less stress on Ryan, so the plan was set. Pre scouting, I had picked out a nice eight point management buck for my special hunting partner, Ryan. After setting in the blind for a short period of time, I spotted the buck, and I told Ryan Here he comes. Get ready. I radioed Wendy and John to get the cameras rolling because the buck is on his way. As the buck strolled into the open area, John picked up his binoculars and immediately asked Wendy Are you sure thats the buck? Hes big! Wendy just looked over at John and replied Ryans special.


At this point, I thought to myself, this is perfect. Hes gonna walk right on in and its gonna be a done deal. I explained to Ryan, we must wait on the perfect shot. This buck musta known that he was chosen to be the daily harvest, that he was especially picked out for Ryan. He just would NOT stand still. Each time I would tell Ryan to get ready and take the safety off, the buck would move, or another deer would walk in front of him, or another deer would walk behind him. Ryans breathing was very noticeable each time the safety went off. I kept telling myself I had to make this work and work right for both him and me. After about ten attempts to get the perfect shot, the big buck turned with his tail straight up and trotted off slowly into the brush as if to wave good bye. So close, but yet so far.
This was the second day of a three day hunt, so I was not too deeply depressed that we had missed our chance at the big buck. I assured Ryan that wed get another chance at him or pick out another buck if it was the last resort. On the third day, I was stressing hard. Both of us were crossing our fingers till they turned white. We both had high hopes of the return of the big eight. Talking to Ryan, we both agreed that the last day if the big eight didnt show his face, wed have to take what we could. About that time, in walked a decent seven point, and I looked at Ryan and I asked him What do you think? He replied Looks like a nice buck to me. Lets go for it!
At that moment, I went through all the steps again. Take the safety off, put the crosshairs on the shoulder and squeeze the trigger. After a few minutes of prancing the buck finally stopped and gave us a perfect broadside shot. The breathing in the blind got louder and louder. Relax and breathe I said as Ryan started to squeeze the trigger. I hollered Wait a second! The buck moved again. The safety went back on and we relaxed and waited. Again the buck came broadside, Again, the safety off, Again the loud breathing as he was attempting to squeeze the trigger. Dad Gum it! The buck moved again.
The sweat began running down my forehead as this happened several times. Finally, the buck stopped, and I told Ryan This is it-Breathe and squeeze. Just as the shot rang out, the buck turned towards us. No time to stop Ryan from shooting. Unbelievably, the buck hit the ground like a dirty shirt. Ryan had hit the buck in the neck and it was an instant harvest. The look on Ryans face when the buck hit the ground is something Ill never forget. Both of us jumped up and hollered so loud, you could have probably heard us over the mountain. Ryan high-fived me about five or six times in about thirty seconds. Congratulations! Perfect shot I said repeatedly as I patted him on the back, and then immediately, there was more high fives.
The enthusiasm was not only in the blind with me and Ryan. Wendy said John looked like a jack in the box popping out of the hay bale blind while yelling and screaming All right! That was one proud father that day.
As we approached the downed buck, you could tell Ryan was on cloud nine. I dont think his feet touched the ground, and I tell you what, I was right beside him on that cloud.
For a solid month after the hunt, we kept receiving calls from Ryan telling us about how he so enjoyed hunting with us, and how much he cant wait till next year. We believe the reason the phone calls slowed down the next month is because his dad got the phone bill. But now, he still checks in with us from time to time.
For me, this was such a memorable hunt. For Ryan, it was the accomplishment of a lifetime. So hunters, if you ever have the opportunity to take a special young person like Ryan hunting, dont hesitate. The rewards make for a lifetime of memories for you, and those special people out there who just need a little help, or who just need the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Enjoy your life!
 

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