EOTech and CAMO DREAMS
We were on the calendar to hunt for 3 days at Lily Pad Ranch in Jackson County. This was going to be an extra special dream hunt because of some very special guests. Former major league baseball player (New York Mets) Tombo Martin and his best friend Bamm Woodham, both now with Buck Commander, were going to join us on the hunt. Our special hunter was Bradford Whited, a 12 year old from Panama City, FL who has Muscular Dystrophy. This was going to be Bradford's first ever deer hunt. That first afternoon when Bradford and his Mom Karen arrived we spent some time at the rifle range letting him get used to shooting the EOTech equipped .243 that we had for him to use. He proved quickly that he was a good shot with it. Friday and Saturday found all 7 of us comfortably overlooking some great looking green fields from inside our specially modified peanut wagon. We refer to it as the Dream Wagon. Mike's Custom Welding helped us with the modifications and roof structure that provide almost 100 square feet of wheelchair accessible, highly mobile, deer hunting comfort. While we saw plenty of deer during our 3 days at Lily Pad, the stars were not in the right alignment or somebody was not holding their mouth right and we did not get to connect on a deer for Bradford. So Sunday when everybody was getting ready to head home, Bamm and Tombo said that they wanted to try again to get Bradford a deer and that we could come hunt with them on their personal properties. We got everyone together for a quick Wednesday afternoon hunt for Bradford. Myself, my son Christopher, Chad Redding (Camo Dreams, Inc. vice-pres.), Tombo, and Bamm were going to be hunting at Bamm's place in Calhoun County just west of the Chipola River. He had a stand in mind that had not been hunted since Christmas, the Cadillac Stand. It just did not have room for all of us to sit together like the Dream Wagon. So Bamm and Chad would be close by in stands while Tombo, Christopher, and I would be with Bradford. The anticipation was high and the text messages flying..when or would we even see anything. Then as they typically do 5 does magically appeared at the end of the food plot. We had a doe tag and our goal was to get Bradford a deer, antlers did not matter. As luck would have it none of the does would give him a broadside shot they just kept feeding directly towards the Cadillac stand. This gave us the opportunity to get him positioned at the window and for me to get ready for a follow up shot if need be. We were all ready and the camera was rolling. Bradford had the red dot of the EOtech on the biggest doe in the group waiting for her to turn. We asked him several times if he was on her and if he was ready. When she turned I told him to make sure the dot was behind her shoulder and to fire when he was ready. We waited and waited and waited. Tombo looked over at him and he was watching the deer on the screen of the video camera!!!! That gave us all a chuckle and actually helped settle the nerves. Bradford got settled on the doe and was about to shoot when I noticed a doe at the back of the group getting nervous and looking into the woods. When she bolted out of the food plot I quickly told Bradford to wait just a second that something else was coming out into the food plot. His rack was the first thing I saw as he stepped into the plot. His main beams were shining in the setting sun. I told Bradford that it was a good buck and he needed to shoot him instead of the doe. It seemed like an eternity before he pulled the trigger and the buck lunged into the woods, obviously hit. The celebration began!! After a quick look where the buck had been standing and very little sign to go on we called in the reinforcements. Bamm's cousin Chris has a great tracking dog named Rock that we hoped would make quick work of the limited sign. By the time they got there to start on the trail it had been a nervous hour. Would we find him? Rock however is a superb tracking dog. He trailed that buck across a field, across a creek, and through numerous thickets. Without him we would not have been able to find Bradford;s first deer more than a half mile from where he shot him. When they finally found him we could hear the whoops and hollers rolling through the cold evening air. Since the whole thing happened so quickly we really did not have any idea about the size of the buck. But when we pulled him into the light for Bradford to see for the first time up close everyone was amazed. I took some quick measurements on the 3.5 year old 9 point buck and came up with 120 2/8 B&C, a fantastic first deer. Bradford's smile was from ear to ear and he was speechless. Back at the barn we took a few pictures and recounted the story several times while watching the video. It was a hunt that will forever be etched in the minds of those involved. Bradford's Cadillac Buck.