Dreams can come true, even though
sometimes they need a little help. Justin Bradford, an 8 year
old from Lapeer, Michigan received just that. Benefit4Kids (B4K),
along with support from Safari Club International-Detroit Chapter
(SCI-Detroit), together helped put that ‘Dream’ in
Just over four years ago, Justin was diagnosed with Adrenoleukodystrophy
(ALD), a rare genetic disease effecting young boys. They generally
have a history of learning disabilities and/or behavior issues
such as attention deficit disorders. The disease worsens over
several years, and usually in less than two years from diagnoses;
the child will lose all cognitive, mental, and physical functions,
and deteriorate into a vegetative state leading to death.
After receiving a bone marrow transplant 2 years ago, Justin was
doing great. When they started to wean him off his immune suppression
medication, his body started to reject the donor blood. After
spending about one week in the hospital each month, and at one
point for five weeks, he is up and mobile. However, the outlook
is still not good.
A few years earlier, Justin had an older brother, Michael, who
was taken from his family and friends by the same disease. Michael
was provided the opportunity to go on a dream hunt of his own.
He wanted to harvest a Corsican Ram. With his vision deteriorated
so far, he was unable to accomplish this task so many of us take
for granted. This is where Justin came up with his idea of a dream.
He wanted to harvest a Corsican Ram for his older brother. This
led him to B4K
Upon hearing about Justin, his condition, and his choice of a
‘Dream’, B4K decided that he was not only going to
be able to fulfill the hunt for his brother, but also a ‘Dream’
of his own. This ‘Dream’ contained a Fallow Deer hunt
The hunt was scheduled for November 2005, then in December, which
again was cancelled due to hospital stays or doctors orders. Finally,
January 16, 2006, after all the roller coaster rides of his health,
Justin was feeling great, and with the doctor’s ok, he was
going to Texas. This trip was not just for Justin, but it was
to include his whole family: dad (Mike), mom (Denise), and his
sister (Ashley). To be included, this meant that they would accompany
Justin out in the field to enjoy this adventure as ‘a Hunter
and his family’.
The plane ride was Justin’s first. He thought it was fun,
sitting at a window watching the view. Once in the Great State
of Texas, it was straight to More or Less Game Ranch outside of
Abilene, Texas. Meeting the guides, staff, crew, and dropping
off the gear, it was straight out to view the all the critters.
As it being evening, they wanted to scout some Rams that would
be great for Justin.
After scouting for half an hour, they spotted a group of Rams.
When asked if he wanted to harvest one of these, Justin stated
that he would rather hold off and look around for others. Being
in the field for a couple of hours, they spotted a Fallow Buck,
nice size, possibly a true albino. The guide said it would be
a great selection if Justin would like to take that one. With
no hesitation, Justin agreed, and they grabbed the gear.
Because of his size and health, Justin would not be able to absorb
the recoil of the .243 he would be hunting with. So his gear consisted
of a tripod stand his dad created to hold the rifle. This, with
the help of sand bags would be able to hold the gun steady, but
also help absorb the recoil.
Another item in his gear was extremely special for Justin. It
was a bear paw pouch made into a necklace. This was Michael’s;
it had been made for him to take on his hunt. Now it was Justin’s.
I am sure, that if you ask him about it, he may not directly tell
you how much it means, but that you can see in his eyes.
After stalking up to 80 yards, they setup and sat there waiting
for the deer to provide a clean shot. The buck would come out
of the thick brush, and just as quickly would turn and vanish
back into the brush. Because of this action, they had to setup
and move three times. On this third time, the Fallow deer came
out, hesitated, turned as if heading back but stopped, turned
back, providing the time for Justin to pick his spot, and gently
squeeze the trigger.
The guide wanted Justin to get a shot at about 50-60 yards. But
the way the Fallow was acting, he was not sure if they would get
that chance of getting that close. When asked if Justin would
be able to make the shot, dad stated “if he shoots this
like the .22, there will be no problem”. Mom was almost
sure there would be lots of misses before there would be one that
even made contact. With a little hesitation and thought, the shot
would be taken if provided.
At the crack of the rifle, all eyes watched as the Fallow Buck
dropped, there on the spot. First shot, first harvest. Justin
has his first animal, a nice Fallow Buck. After waiting a short
while, as they walk up, nothing but smiles, a few with some tears.
Justin standing next to HIS Fallow Buck, 17 points in all, and
almost pure albino.
Justin says that he was the most excited after the taking of
the Fallow, but the consensus was that mom was more vocal and
physical, jumping with tears of joy. After the pictures, and the
joys of the hunt told over and over, it was time to go back to
the ranch house. There, more pictures and stories were told. Before
hitting the sack, still all excited, Justin had to call Grandpa
about the good news. It spread quickly across Michigan, as if
hearing play by play.
The next morning mom and dad thought they could sleep in a little,
but Justin still all excited, woke them up. The early morning
and evenings were pleasant, but the midday was hot. All the hunting
would be in the late afternoons. To pass the time, instead of
sitting watching television, they would ride ATV’s and explore
That evening, they went out to setup on the edge of a field that
was known for rams to visit. After a short time, they noticed
some entering the field on the far side. Unfortunately, the rams
had moved away even farther. Because of this, they had to relocate
and set up a second time. Using the binoculars, they counted about
twenty rams. The guide mentioned there was a nice Corsican Ram
out of three of the largest ones that Justin could harvest. The
guide mentioned that it was 160 yards, but after seeing Justin
handle the Fallow, he was sure he could handle the shot.
Being setup, and viewing through the scope, Justin sighted on
the one that was to be his. This was easy, for it had a broken
tip on one of the horns. All that was stopping Justin now was
that the three rams were still grouped too close together to just
hit the one. Justin mentions to his dad “if I shoot now,
I will shot two of them”. A few times the rams would separate,
but as Justin sighted in, they would bunch up again. Being all
excited, it was patience that must have seemed like hours, waiting.
Then suddenly the rams parted, as if it were meant to be.
Again, Justin made sure of the spot he picked, and squeezed the
trigger. A split second after the crack of the rifle, the mighty
ram fell. Again, one shot, one harvest. This time after the nervousness
in himself of hunting had subsided, Justin was sure that he was
the most excited of them all. Dad and Mom were proud of Justin,
but most of all the time spent together doing this as a family
After pictures and more stories, it was off to the ranch house
to clean the game and get ready for dinner. Again when dinner
was over, no television here, too much to do and see. During the
course of viewing the ranch, some of the other animals they saw
were Red Stag, Elk, Buffalo, Aoudad, Black Hawaiians, lots of
turkey, and Armadillos. Justin thought they were pretty cool looking
The next day started again with riding the ATV’s, then scouting
for boar. They were out so long that the staff had to call them
on the radios to come in for lunch. Soon afterwards, they were
back out scouting. The guide decided to take them to another ranch
that was leased by Wildlife Images. Here again they scouted. A
short while later they spotted some boar. Because the guide and
ranch were proud of the way Justin handled his sportsmanship,
they surprised him by telling him he would be able to take one.
Quickly they set up, viewing their choices. Here now were the
true Texas Wild Boar, at 200 yards. The guide picked one out for
Justin, counting out which one was his. Justin sighted in, found
the one that was his, and wow …. this was a big one. Being
sure of his spot and squeezing of the trigger, there was the crack
of the rifle everyone was waiting for. The boar rolled over onto
its side. There was a moment of hesitation. Nothing. The boar
stayed right where it fell. More pictures and stories, everyone
was proud. They started calling him ‘One Shot Bradford’.
Once back at the ranch house, the guide introduced Justin to his
son. He had been dropped off because they were going to go back
to the other ranch to cull some whitetail doe. Excited is not
close to the words from the expression on Justin when he was asked
if he wanted to go. Off they went. Here again, he did his magic.
Another one shot, one animal.
I don’t know, but if you ask me, I would say that the bear
paw necklace carried a little magic inside if there is such a
thing. Or could it be that there really are people out there that
truly care. Whatever it was, it’s good for the heart. Here,
an eight-year-old boy gets his choice of a Dream, but wants to
fulfill someone else’s. In turn, he not only gets that,
but also a Dream of his own way beyond of what he would have imagined,
and as a family. Things happen that way sometimes, this was truly
Benefit4Kids is a 501c3 organization thats primary mission is
to grant outdoor wishes of children with life threatening and
life limiting illnesses. They also work to involve today’s
children in the outdoors and many of the activities it offers
them. Find out more about B4K at www.b4k.org or call 810-441-2579
Safari Club International-Detroit Chapter is proud to have helped
supply that Dream. If you know of others that might benefit from
the Humanitarian Projects of SCI-Detroit, please contact me via
email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 586-792-1145. To see more
about SCI-Detroit on the web, go to www.scidetroit.com.
B4K Michigan Director