Keith Tatum's Outdoor Wish
Day One, Sunday December
While driving to Michigan
from Southern Georgia Keith and his dad saw a little snow in a plowed
field in Ohio. Keith's dad told Keith "there's some snow, why
don't you take a picture". Keith was convinced that it was actually
cotton in the field instead of snow and didn't figure they'd see any
snow on their hunt. Little did he know what awaited him in Michigan's
Bill met Keith and his dad
at 10am at their motel in Gaylord, Mi. and took them out for breakfast.
Although they had spoken many times on the phone this was their first
"in person" chance to talk. Keith and his dad expected to
go right to the ranch after breakfast but we had a little surprise
stop off for them first. Bill told them they needed to make a quick
stop to "pick up a few things for the hunt".
Soon they pulled into Jay's
Sporting Goods in Gaylord and as they entered the store Bill let the
folks at the store know that "the kid with the birthday"
They were led to one of
Jay's conference rooms where there was a surprise birthday party waiting
for Keith. A cake was sitting there along with just a few items donated
to Keith by Jay's. Jay's store manager Mark Copeland presented Keith
with a new insulated camo jacket, insulated bibs, a great pair of
LaCrosse boots and numerous other items like grunt calls, hand warmers,
etc. to make sure this young boy from Georgia was nice and warm while
hunting the frigid northern Michigan woods.
Then just when Keith thought
it couldn't get any better he was presented with a $500 gift certificate
to use for a shopping spree at Jay's for any other outdoor goods he
needed. Keith used part of the gift certificate to buy a new .22 mag
rifle and scope so he could go small game hunting back home with his
brothers. He was so excited at this point he didn't even know what
else to get with the remainder of his gift certificate. Keith and
his dad decided to come back to Jay's Weds. on their way home to pick
up the gun and spend some time shopping then.
After leaving Jay's they
headed out to Muy Grande to get settled in for the next days hunt.
When they got to the ranch Keith and his guide went to the range to
"check the zero" on Keith's gun so if his buck of a lifetime
stepped out he'd be ready. Back at the lodge Bill sat looking out
at a large pond when a 140-class buck stepped out of the woods. The
buck walked out onto the pond that was mostly frozen over only to
fall through the thin ice. Bill said it was quite a sight to see this
big buck fight his way out of the pond, shake himself off and saunter
back into the woods with his pride seemingly just a little hurt.
Keith returned from the
range ready for the morning hunt and as they sat by the evening fire
they couldn't help but admire the beauty of the newly fallen 6"
of fresh snow covering the area. Tired from their long trips the hunters
relaxed and told stories, as hunter will do. Tomorrows hunt looks
promising. Maybe, just maybe tomorrow a dream will come true.
Day Two, Monday December
2nd The Morning Hunt
This morning as Keith, Bill
and Derrick Keith's guide headed out in the pre-dawn darkness they
were greeted by -4 degree temps and a beautiful Turkish cresent moon
shining down on the fresh snow from the evening before.
Not long after getting set
up this morning they spotted an awesome 150 class 8 point that Keith
and Derrick decided to go after. The buck never offered Keith a shot
before melting back into the woods. They decided that this afternoon
with the new snow they would try to do a spot and stalk hunt for this
Keith and Derrick left Bill
back at the lodge to take some pictures while they headed out after
the buck. Keith told Bill one thing he wants to do before he leaves
the ranch is to take the time to accomplish another of his dreams
he never thought he'd get the chance to do, he wants to build a Snowman.
Bill has promised him that as soon as they get the chance they'll
live that dream and spend some time making Keith's snowman.
Day Two, Monday December
2nd Afternoon Hunt
This afternoon Keith and
Derrick were able to spot 5 different bucks including the one Keith
is after but no shot opportunities presented themselves. One of the
bucks was estimated to be around the 200 class and they rattled him
in but he just wouldn't give Keith a clear shot. Keith is having an
absolute ball and has had the pleasure of meeting and swaping stories
around the fire with famed hunting author and videographer Mark Sullivan.
Keith was so pumped up from
today's hunt that he asked if they could skip breakfast in the morning
so they can get out and get set up earlier tomorrow. Not much more
to report tonight but tomorrows weather is looking real favorable
for the hunt and with lady luck on his side maybe tomorrow Keith will
be able to finally get a crack at his dream buck.
Day Three, Tuesday December
3rd as described by Bill
This morning's temperature
was a whoppin 8 degrees! No moon this morning, but in the dawning
light, the glistening of the ice crystals on the trees and grasses
was beautiful. Today began with sitting in a blind again, but only
for a short time. After about an hour, Derrick had some other ideas.
I cannot say enough about Derrick. Take someone that has a degree
in wildlife biology and forestry, toss him into a place like Muy Grande
for over 4 years, make him Ranch Manager
.and then have him guide.
.Derrick has more knowledge of whitetails than anyone I have
.and the owner of Muy Grande, Glen, wanted only the
best for a guide for Keith..so Derrick was our man. So
to do a bit of spot n stalking.
About 9 am, a buck was seen
one could get a good look at him at first, but his body size indicated
that he was large
so the stalk was on ! The temp was now about
15 degrees, with about 6 inches of snow on the ground
to say the least and not ideal stalking conditions. Getting within
about 100 yards before the buck sensed what was going on, Keith and
Derrick set up for a shot
but the buck didnt get that big
by being stupid..it took off, white flag flying. As the buck neared
the 150 yard mark, Derrick grunted to him
the buck topped a small
rise, and Derrick grunted again. The buck stopped
then, as if the ultimate Birthday present, he turned
His tail was starting to
it would be only a matter of a few more seconds before
he bolted into the woodline, a scant 20 yards away. Derrick told Keith
to take him if he thought he could make the shot
dropped to one knee, steadied the rifle, clicked off the safety and
squeeeeezzzed the trigger. WHAM ! THWACKK ! The buck kicked up like
a mule and dove for the woodline. Unbelievable
.if I had a picture
of that buck standing broadside, and showed it to Keith and put a
red mark right where he should shoot it
.well, thats EXACTLY
where he hit it ! After waiting a bit, everyone eased up to the rise
and looked down into the woodline
.there he was !!!! A mere 25
yards from where he was initially shot.
Later examination would
reveal that Keith had completely taken off the top of the heart. 154
yard shot, offhand/kneeling with only a brief few seconds to make
.I gotta tell ya, I couldnt be prouder !
Well, lets fast forward
to the late afternoon
.the snow sucked
it for anything, so a snowman was out of the question. That evening,
we had a grand Birthday dinner
.Sauteed backstraps (the Professional
Hunter offered up his, so that Keith could take his home), with a
wild cherry demi-glace, asparagus, ceasar salad, and then a
fantastic birthday cake made by Jeannie
Keith got more presents,
including a shirt/hat logoed with Muy Grande on them, a video of Muy
Grande hunts and Mark Sullivan gave him an autographed copy of his
latest movie too ! Benefit4Kids gave him a custom made hunting knife,
and then he also got a PSE Spyder bow, COMPLETELY setup including
arrows, compliments of our own Maco12, owner of JJT outdoor
sports. I had a birthday card for him that was signed by everyone
at the ranch
.15 total signatures, and we sung happy birthday
to him. After dinner, Glen invited us over to his house (just next
door) to watch videos
.well, unbeknownst to us, we entered a
MASSIVE log home, and went into an actual theatre ! Glen had this
theatre built in his house, and the chairs were leather, reclining
lazyboys. We watched some more of Marks safari movies, then
back to the lodge to get some sleep. Oh, by the way
buck will be mounted for him also, so that he can display it in his
house and keep them memories flowing.
Day Four, Wednesday December
Wednesday morning found
Keith and his dad headed for home with some memories that will last
them a lifetime. On their way they stopped by Jay's to pick up Keith's
gun and finish his spending his gift certificate. Somehow I don't
think they had any trouble finding something to talk about on the
Thanks to all of you who
have helped to make this hunt possible for Keith by donating to Benefit4Kids.
Tonight you can go to bed knowing you made a difference in the life
of a young man and have helped put a smile on his face that I don't
think you could get off with dynamite. God Bless each and every one
B4K Notes: Keith's
hunt was donated by Muy Grande Ranch
Keith's lodging, travel, shopping spree and taxidermy were covered
Keith also received many gifts from Jay's sporting goods and their