Legends Ranch in Bitely, Michigan offers a Special Youth Challenge Hunt for four to six youth each year at the start of the season. In the two years since SCIF’s Youth Pathfinder Program was developed, we have funded travel expenses for disabled, handicapped or terminally ill youth under the age of 18 and their caregiver to travel to the Ranch as well as shipment of their trophy after the hunt.
The committee thanks Randy Flanery of Westwind Taxidermy for providing the taxidermy work free of charge. This year the hunt took place Aug. 27-30. I was fortunate enough to be with these youth for the hunt. This was my third time to take part in this hunt.
The recipients of the SCIF Youth Pathfinder Award are Anthony Brayall, a young man with spina bifida and over 50 brain surgeries; and Maisy Martindale, who has had over 30 surgeries and lives with a pacemaker. Both were very much a pleasure to be around.
One of the things that I remember most about Maisy is when we picked them up at the airport in Grand Rapids. I looked at Maisy and said, “You must be Maisy.” She said “Yes, I am.” I offered a handshake and she came back with, “Now, can I get a hug?” Anthony’s big thing was going around tagging everyone, saying, “You’re it.” He never tired of this.
The youth were provided the opportunity to go to the range and site and fire their rifles to make sure they were still zeroed after travelling and, for some, to familiarize themselves with the firearm that was provided by the Lodge.
Our first morning out, I went with Maisy and her dad, Mark, and our guide, Sam. I was there to video the hunt and to write about the experience. Some of the buck deer that we saw were awesome, scoring 200 inches or better. After watching numerous big bucks, two management bucks were sighted. They were almost identical in size. One offered a better shot, so he was the one that Maisy chose to harvest. At the shot, I could see that it was perfect. The buck deer started to run, but I told Maisy that she had gotten him. The deer ran fewer than 20 yards before going down. I was able to capture all of this on video.
Unfortunately, I was not with Anthony when he harvested his deer. It, too, was a beautiful 10-point buck and looked almost identical to Maisy’s buck. His guide, Greg, made sure that everything went well on the hunt and that Anthony got his deer.
The hunt was an exceptional experience for our Youth Pathfinders and will live in their memories for the rest of their lives. The Legends Ranch is hard to describe adequately. In my opinion the lodge is 5-Star all the way, but what really makes the total experience is the staff. They all exemplify what true humanitarian services are all about. Our thanks go out to Robert Sergi and the people at the Legends Ranch and the Hunter Legacy Fund for making these hunts possible.-- Randall Bush, Humanitarian Services Chair