Updated: Aug 18
Here is Part 2 from our pro staffer Lance about the Wheelin’ Sportsmen hunt he helped with back in December. If you haven’t read Part 1, check out the previous post! Enjoy!
Author: Lance Howard
When I arrived for the second day of the event, Travis asked me to accompany a boy named Jaybee to film his afternoon hunt. His grandparents, Jack and Peggy, would also be tagging along. The first obvious thing I noticed about Jaybee was that he was in a wheelchair. I started talking with Jaybee and Mr. Jack, trying to get to know them a little bit before we spent a few hours together in a 6×6 box blind. As we talked, I couldn’t help but notice how respectful and well-mannered Jaybee was. Every response included a “yes sir” or “no sir”, and he literally smiled from ear to ear the entire time. I wasn’t telling any jokes, so it was clear that he was just a happy kid, and extremely excited about the afternoon ahead. You could just tell he was about to do something he really enjoyed doing. After a half hour or so of chit chat, we decide to go ahead and get all our stuff loaded up and head to the stand.
When we arrived at our spot for the afternoon, Mr. Jack and Mrs. Peggy took the gear to the blind and I stayed back to help Jaybee back into his wheelchair. As I’m helping him get situated he looks up at me and says, “If you get hungry, I got some beef jerky in my pocket” and taps his pocket. I don’t know if he said it because I’m a little on the husky side, or maybe he just thought I looked like the kind of guy that would get hungry easily, but where I’m from, anyone who offers you their beef jerky is probably good folks. It may seem simple and insignificant, but it was a heartfelt gesture, and I think it was his way of making friends and bonding as hunting buddies. I will never forget that for as long as I live.
While Jaybee, Mrs. Peggy, and I were getting situated in the blind and waiting for Mr. Jack to come back from parking the truck, Mrs. Peggy begins to tell me a little about Jaybee’s condition. He suffers from a rare muscular disease that prevents him from developing any muscle strength. She told me about the multiple surgeries that Jaybee has had to endure over the years, and about an upcoming trip to see a doctor in Cincinnati. She also told me about him having broken both of his legs on Christmas day the past two years in a row. All the while, I keep glancing at Jaybee, only to see him smiling back at me. I then began telling Jaybee some of my old hunting stories to lighten the mood, not because he was getting upset, but because I was.
When Mr. Jack arrived back at the blind we got settled in for the afternoon with Mr. Jack and Jaybee in front and Mrs. Peggy and me behind. The blind is situated on a 1 ½ acre food plot surrounded by 10 year old pines. Unlike my hunt the previous day with Madison, Jaybee’s hunt didn’t take long at all to get going. We may have been in the blind 45 min before the first two deer arrived. After letting these two does graze out into the middle of the field, Mr. Jack looked at his grandson and asked him, “Do you want that deer?” Jaybee replied with an exaggerated head nod and a grin “yes”. Mr. Jack gets the gun in position for the shot. As I’m watching Jaybee take aim, I can’t help but notice it requires him extraordinary effort just to get his hand high enough to reach the trigger. However, unlike Madison’s hunt where her choice to hunt with a crossbow had me praying and shaking like a leaf, I was confident that Jaybee was going to execute his shot. For the two hours that I’d known him, I watched him conquer physical challenge after challenge, all with a smile on his face. When Jaybee finally got his hand on the gun and his finger on the trigger, he didn’t waste any time. I can remember Mr. Jack telling him to wait until the deer turned broadside, but he wasted his breath. As soon as he got those words out of his mouth Jaybee squeezed the trigger. The deer folded like a lawn chair in her tracks. And wouldn’t you know, as I looked over at Jaybee, he was of course smiling. We all were.
Often as hunters we consider the person that bagged the deer to be the lucky one, but that weekend I believe I was the one that got lucky.