This all started
with someone Tyler nor myself knew very well, but he thought
that this would be something that might be a great
experience for Tyler. We cannot thank Chuck Lafoon enough
for thinking of Tyler. Chuck had chatted with Joe Moehlman
online at the Virginia Deer Hunter’s chat site, and then the
ball got rolling. Joe contacted me and asked if Tyler would
like to take a dream vacation in the great outdoors. I told
him sure and put him in contact with Tyler. This turned out
to be the best vacation I had ever had. Tyler and I had a
great experience that we will not soon forget.
I set out for a trip I will not soon forget. This was the
first time Tyler or I had ever been on an airplane. We had
no idea what to expect, but it was a wonderful ride. We
landed in Detroit, Michigan and we were almost there! We
had just a short plane ride to Flint, Michigan. When we
arrived, a wonderful man named Al Baggett met us. We soon
became good friends. From then on, we received the utmost
hospitality from everyone.
We stopped at
Gander Mountain to pick up hunting and fishing licenses. Al
then pointed us in the right direction and we were off on
our adventure. We headed for Jay’s Sporting Good Store in
Claire, Michigan. Upon arriving at Jay’s, we met Jeff, who
was the store manager. Jeff gave us a tour of the sporting
goods store and we were able to admire some nice mounts.
Before leaving the Jays, Jeff presented Tyler with some very
nice gifts that I know Tyler will be able to put to good
Jays, we headed out to Edgett’s Lodge, a small piece of
heaven a short distance from Cadillac, Michigan. We spent
three wonderful days resting and taking in the local
scenery. We took a nature walk and saw things we had never
seen before, like two porcupine and black squirrels. We
relaxed and had a peaceful time in a log cabin in the middle
of the woods. The cabin was so nice it was hard to believe
we were in a place like this.
morning finally arrived, the day we had been waiting for. We
had four days of hunting and fishing in front of us. We were
now on our way to Deer Tracks Ranch where Tyler was going to
go deer hunting. We arrived there around twelve noon and met
a couple of the guides who work there. We also met back up
with Al Baggett. We took time for Tyler to sight a gun and
he did a great job. Bill, one of the guides, deserves a
great big thank you for being able to get Tyler to relax and
make good shots on the target range. We then had a late
lunch, early dinner so that Tyler could start hunting that
We set out
for our evening of hunting and Tyler’s guide Dave and John
the camera operator joined us. That’s right; John was
filming the whole experience. Eastman Sports Show, seen on
the Outdoor Network, was filming Tyler’s hunt to be possibly
televised sometime next season. That is so cool!
still getting comfortable in the blind when Tyler saw the
first deer of the night. A small doe had walked out into
the field and then it was on. Deer after deer filed into the
field from all sides, even right beside the blind. We
really had to be still and quiet. As the evening wore on, we
had a couple of nice deer come into the field. A nice buck
had come into range, but there were so many deer in the
field, Tyler could not get a clear shot. We waited until
dark and returned to the lodge we were staying. This
particular lodge was also a very nice place to stay. There
were mounts of elk, moose, bear, and even mountain lion. We
were so tired; it wasn’t long before we were ready for bed.
We got up
around five in the morning to start our day. We met up with
our guides and had a light snack so that we could get right
into the hunting. However, there wasn’t enough room for me
to fit into the blind with Tyler and his guide. (Did I
mention the camera operator John with Eastman Sport Show?).
Al and I took a seat in a loft over looking a small field
where we saw some nice deer, hoping to hear a shot from
Al and I
had a long talk and I told him Tyler’s story, the compact
version, about some of the struggles that Tyler had met head
on, as well as, his accomplishments. Tyler suffers from
cerebral palsy. Tyler has been through several surgeries.
His last was when he was eleven and the doctors had to break
both of his legs to straighten them. They also had to
operate on his flat foot. All went well and within six
months, he was riding a bike, which was the one thing he
really wanted to do! Tyler also plays coach-pitch
baseball. To see him accomplish things that most children
take for granted is simply amazing. He is now 16 years old
and in high school. Where have the years gone?
back from his morning hunt to tell Al and me that he and his
guide had seen some very nice deer, but they had not had any
luck yet. During the time between hunts, the owner, Dave
Tuxbury, took us on a tour of the ranch. Dave even let
Tyler drive the golf cart. Tyler was having a blast! We
road around looking at some of the amazing sights. Along
the way, Dave asked Tyler if he knew where the brakes of the
golf cart were. Tyler replied, “Sure, the big one on the
left.” I was wondering what all this was about, and I was
soon to find out.
We came up
to the swamp and Dave had built a long bridge to the other
side. As we started across, Tyler must have been nervous
because he drove straight off the side! No one was hurt
thankfully. John, the camera operator, helped Tyler and I
and had us on our way in a jiff with no harm, no foul, just
a good laugh! We finally reached our destination across the
swamp and came upon an incredible house. A log cabin you
could hunt out of as well as spend the night overlooking the
during our time between hunts, Tyler was able to get in some
target practice. I also want to thank Rich, the caretaker
of the ranch, who spent a lot of time with Tyler taking him
for rides on the four-wheeler.
headed back out for the evening hunt, I set with Al in the
blind that Tyler and I had set in during the first evening
hunt. We saw some nice deer, heard some shots and hoped
that the shots were from Tyler, but they were not. Tyler
told me later that he had made a very hard decision during
the hunt. Just before dark, he was lined up on a nice buck,
but decided it was too dark to shoot. Boy was I proud that
he made a good decision. I told him that was all part of
hunting. There is always another day to try again.
out for the morning hunt and Bill was going to be our
guide. We reached our stand in a log cabin blind before
daylight. It was not long before we had some deer coming
into the field. In the meantime, Tyler was becoming
overheated. He had been a bit chilled the previous morning
so had put on a couple extra shirts. So, he removed a shirt
and took a nap. We sat there hoping for a nice buck, but
none showed up. According to the guide, there had been some
nice bucks the previous day, but we were not so lucky.
Hunting goes that way, though.
got up from his nap, he opted to take a shot at a real nice
doe that was still in the field. The guide helped him get
his gun out the window so he could take a shot. It took him
a few minutes to get straight, but when he did squeeze the
trigger, the doe went straight to the ground. What a great
shot he made. Again, he made me a very proud!
down out of the blind and went over to the deer. It was
finished. Tyler was so happy, and I was so proud. Al came
out and shared in the moment as well. We took a few minutes
to take some photos and then took the deer back to camp.
All, taking pictures with Tyler and the deer, had a great
time. We stayed around long enough to eat another wonderful
meal prepared by the camp cook.
off after breakfast to our final stop, Arrow National Hunt
and Golf Club in Clare, Michigan. We met some very nice men
who had given up much of their vacation time to host Tyler.
We wasted no time and soon were on our way pheasant hunting.
(I had really been looking forward to this part of the trip
myself when I could get my gun out of the case and have some
fun too.). Everyone tried to make it work for Tyler, but it
was very difficult for him to keep his balance while turning
on the birds. However, he did enjoy watching a black lab,
named Chip, hunt and dad take out four of five birds. Chip
even had one that he caught.
time pheasant hunting, Al received a call and had to leave
for a family emergency. We said our goodbyes and were sad
to see him go, but we understood. We stopped for the day as
it had become too hot for the dog to hunt. We returned to
the lodge were the cook, Mike, cleaned the pheasant we had
killed and prepared them for dinner. The pheasant were
excellent! We also enjoyed some walleye fish, a first for
both Tyler and me.
early the next morning to a wonderful breakfast and headed
out for some light squirrel hunting. Unfortunately, we did
not have any luck. Tyler and I had never seen black
squirrels. We thought we would “give it a try”, but it
proved to be a better day for the squirrels, thanks to all
the leaves on the trees. After trying our hand at some
squirrel hunting, we decided it was time to do a little
fishing so, we loaded up the rangers four-wheel cart. I
rode with Zane in the ranger and Tyler went with Chuck to
the store fro bait. We arrived at Bass Lake where a friend
of Chuck and Zane’s met us to let use his boat for the
afternoon. We had such a great time catching blue gill. I
had not caught fish like that since I was a little boy
Tyler’s age. We could have kept fishing, but a shower came
through so we decided it was time to go. We returned to the
lodge for dinner and were served some wonderful “vinie
burgers” which are burgers made from deer meat. They were
great! Tyler almost finished off two, but I had to help with
a bite or two!
The next morning we were on our way back home.
We had such a great time; we hated to see this dream trip
end! Thanks to so many good people…it’s hard to name them
all, but I’ll try.
Dave, Jenn, Bill, Dave, Rich and the rest of the
at Arrow National Hunt and Golf Club—Chuck, Zane,
Terry and Mike
This was the best hunting
experience for Tyler! We cannot thank you enough!