Checking out some youth hunting organizations, I came across the good folks at Youth Outdoors Unlimited based out of Central Washington. The team at Y.O.U. is doing some fantastic work with youth who have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness and/or physical disability and who have a dream to hunt or fish on their own outdoor adventure. These guys are out there making it happen. Y.O.U. is working on a small scale with great plans to grow thier operations and being able to bring thier passoin for getting these kids outdoors to experience a once in a lifetime experience. The work is hard, money is tight and the hours are long but the rewards for these kids, thier families and all who are involved are some of the greatest experiences that can be created.
We asked Cindy Carpenter, Founder and President of Youth Outdoors Unlimited to write up a quick story about Justin Ristine’s Deer Hunt. Justine is an inspiring young man who wanted to hunt with his father, the team at Y.O.U. worked long and hard and helped Justine realize his dream.
Justin came to Youth Outdoors Unlimited in March of 2011. With an interest in being able to hunt with his dad, his parents enrolled him in a hunter’s education class. His mother, Jennifer, was pretty hesitant about Justin hunting because he only had one arm. While in the hunter’s ed class, Justin’s family met another disabled youth, Mikey Williamson, who was taking his class; which is the first thing that Youth Outdoors Unlimited asks a youth to do if they have a desire to apply for a hunting trip. Not only is this a requirement to get your hunting license, but it also helps our directors decide which youth are ready for a hunting adventure and which ones aren’t. As we all know this is not about age but about the desire and cognitive ability to become a safe and ethical hunter.
Moving on: After Justin very successfully passed his class, Y.O.U. made arrangements for Justin to come to Central Washington for his first shooting training, one of four. Well balanced gun rests and modified rifles are key for youth missing limbs or who shoot from a wheelchair as they don’t have the same stability as most youth. Justin was hesitant at first but with hours of one on one coaching from hunt coordinator, Joe Carpenter, Justin soon became confident in handling the 243 rifle that he would be hunting with. By the last training Justin was calling out shots and with incredible success in his accuracy. Justin is a perfectionist and we were very confident in his ability to make a clean shot during his hunt. (FYI, I’ve attached a copy of the target that we use for the kids. We had full size 5×6 vinyl targets of a buck made that we set at 100 to 200 yards. This helps the kids get use to shooting at an animal and also to successfully pick out the vital section)
Justin Ristine is an 11 year old boy from Marysville, WA. In all respects Justin is just a normal middle school boy with a desire to hunt. What’s unique about Justin is that he was born without his right arm. This was simply a birth defect and in all other ways Justin is very healthy.
We have several private hunting areas for Y.O.U. to take these youth on for hunts and one of them is hunting privileges donated to our youth by Tom and Cheryl Kammerzell in Colfax, WA. Tom and Cheryl are owners of Maple K Highlands Farms <http://www.maplekhighlands.com/> , long time residents of Colfax and very involved in their community. Their property is considered by most to be “The Reserve”. This area is off limits to all hunters except their immediate family and one disabled gentleman. We met Tom and Cheryl at the Bighorn Outdoor Adventure show. With their passion for hunting and for youth, they offered our organization an opportunity to bring a youth to Colfax each year. They were amazing! Y.O.U. built a wooden blind from lumber donated by ProBuild <http://www.probuild.com/> and placed on the Kammerzell’s property in early August. Each blind built is designed for the youth, one parent, a Y.O.U. hunting guide and a camera person. Justin was 100% outfitted by Jay Shuler and his staff at Wholesale Sports <http://us.wholesalesports.com/storefront/about.ep> in Burlington, WA. Wholesale Sports completely decked Justin out for his hunt including bibs, coat, boots, shirts, hats, gloves and a gear bag. They were thankful to be able to help Justin have a great hunting experience. The 243 rifle that Justin hunted with was donated to Youth Outdoors by The Mule Deer Foundation <http://www.muledeer.org/> and the local Moses Lake chapter has remained very supportive of our program and continues to help us in an effort to raise funds. Extensive gun modification was done by Aaron Davidson, owner of Gunwerks <http://www.gunwerks.com/> , along with a high quality scope donated by Paul Neese of Vortex Optics <http://www.vortexoptics.com/> . The modifications made to this rifle are imperative for our youth who require the smoothest shooting guns that we can provide. This rifle will remain in the Y.O.U. organization for other youth to use on their hunts. Two days before Justin’s hunt his hunting guide, Joe Carpenter, arrived in Colfax to get camp set, place needed chairs, heater and fun rests in the blind and to meet with the landowner to coordinate the hunt schedule.
Two days before Justin’s hunt his hunting guide, Joe Carpenter arrived in Colfax to get camp set, place needed chairs, heater and fun rests in the blind and to meet with the landowner to coordinate the hunt schedule. Opening day, the hunting crew which included Justin, his dad Roy, guide Joe and cameraman Jeff Burnworth, sent courtesy of Jim Burnwoth and the Outdoor Channel, were up before daylight and in the blind ready about an hour before shooting hours started. This enabled Justin to get into the blind (which he would spend many hours in) and begin the hours of waiting and watching. Vice President of Y.O.U., Curt Carpenter, and president Cindy Carpenter sat on a hillside behind the blind around 600 yards away with binoculars and spotting scopes. This gave the hunting crew advanced notice of deer movement and help in getting Justin moved and ready.
Justin saw some deer movement opening day, Saturday, Oct 15th, 2011. He excitedly held out for that elusive buck as all hunters dream of. Typically Colfax in October is in full fall weather mode with most of the leaves gone off the trees. This years mild weather changed that and created a unique challenge in finding and following deer on the Kammerzell property. After spending 6 hours in the blind that morning the guys picked up and went back to camp to get some much needed breakfast and get ready to head back out to the blind that afternoon. We saw some nice does and then from the hillside Curt, Cindy and Tom Kammerzell spotted a monster whitetail. As the spotting crew watched this buck go into the trees they radioed to Joe the area on the hill that the buck would come out at. Justin had his site on a doe and was prepared to take her and then he appeared! Of course the buck sent the doe out ahead to make sure that it was safe and he quickly scooted across the hillside to the next group of trees. Justin had this buck in his scope but couldn’t get a clear shot and being an ethical hunter had to pass on the shot. The excitement was incredible. Justin was shaking from head to toe as he recapped the minutes. Shooting hours were over for the day and as the crews headed back to camp we ate dinner around the camp fire talking about this incredible first day and what tomorrow would bring.
Day two: Up early again and Justin soon learned the lack of sleep and early hours that all true hunters thrive on. As they headed to the blind for the morning wait the fog set in and even the spotting crew saw little movement for the second morning hunt. This is the hunting experience! After 6 more hours in the blind we again headed back to camp for some breakfast and that great campfire. This next afternoon would be the finish to Justin’s hunt provided by Youth Outdoors. It is the adventure of the hunt that our organization provides and we all know that there is no guarantee of a harvest but the hope was there. We again headed back out to the blind around 2:30 and watched. The deer were quiet and as the end of shooting hours approached Joe prepared Justin for the fact that he may not get his deer this year and sometimes that’s the way it goes. The hours at camp and visiting in the blind were priceless memories to Justin and his dad and regardless of the outcome he had received the experience of a lifetime that we had promised him. 5:45, 45 minutes before shooting hours were over there was movement on the hill. Joe quickly got on the radio and asked me if I could see the buck that was about 120 yards up the hill by the trees. I had to reposition myself on the hill to get the buck in my view. As we waited for this buck to move into a clear shooting position out comes a second buck, a nice legal 4×4. While Justin waited for the ok from Joe that he was legal Justin was ready and had the vital area in his site as Joe had taught him. Don’t look at the deer, just pick the spot and get ready. Joe no sooner said “Justin, he’s legal” and boom!!! Justin dropped that deer in his tracks taking a perfect shot through the heart. As we all waited a few minutes to make sure the deer was down the guys headed up the hill to find his trophy first buck. Justin and his dad Roy were beaming from ear to ear as we all congratulated Justin on his patience and skills as a now established hunter.
Congrats Justin, the directors of Youth Outdoors Unlimited love you and are so incredibly proud of you for your hard work and dedication in becoming yet another member of the hunting community.
If your as impressed by the work that this organization is doing, consider going to thier website and making a donation so they can continue the work that has inspired them.
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