Kaitlin's 2014 Wish Hunt
The Chapter’s 2014 Safari Wish Hunter was Kaitlin Neff of Fairview, Michigan. Kaitlin was the Chapter’s first female wish hunter. She acquitted herself in an exceptional manner proving once again that “Girls hunt 2”! She was accompanied on the hunt by her mother, Father and two sisters. Kaitlin harvested the great 6x6 bull elk pictured below. Kaitlin’s elk was donated by Jack Pine Safari and the Northeast Michigan Chapter - SCI as were the services of photographer, Thane Whitscell and videographer, Tim Gauthier. Food during the hunt was provided by Connie’s Café in Ossineke and by Gordon Foods of Alpena. Deepwoods Taxidermy in Spruce, Michigan fully donated the mount.
jack pine safari wish hunt wish hunt kaitlin kaitlin wish hunt kaitlin kaitlin kaitlin kaitlin wish hunt
BIG BUCK DOWN!
Jonathon Barton's 2010 Wish Hunt - by Mike Wilmot
We had been in the stand for the better part of an hour and half. Darkness was beginning to fall and low hanging fog was settling in the northern Michigan hardwoods near Lewiston. However, the bone white antlers of the approaching buck were easy to spot. A quick check with my binoculars affirmed that the tall, narrow rack on the approaching animal belonged to one of the bucks that had been spotted by several other hunters in recent weeks. This was clearly one of the bucks that been identified as a good animal for our “wish hunter”, Jonathon Barton, to shoot if the opportunity presented itself.
The unique buck continued toward our stand. In a matter of minutes he was standing broadside; thirty yards in front of the blind. I was uncertain as to the response I would get when I leaned over and told Jonathon to “shoot that deer”! Earlier that afternoon, he had stated pretty emphatically that he was not going to shoot a deer until the second day of the hunt – no matter how big the buck was that might appear on the first evening. Regardless of his earlier statement and without any hesitation, Jon leaned into the .243 caliber rifle and squeezed the trigger.
At the sound of the report of the rifle, the buck spun and retreated back into the woods in the same direction from which he had come. It looked like a good shot and Jonathon insisted that the cross hairs of the rifle scope were right behind the animal’s shoulder when he pulled the trigger. While he was sure that he had done things just as he had practiced many times, the sight of the big buck high-tailing it back into the woods caused Jonathon to think he had missed his first opportunity to take a big Whitetail buck. He was one disappointed hunter!
We let things settle down for a few minutes and then the cameraman, Scott Gauthier and I left the blind to look for any sign that the animal had been hit. As we approached the spot where the buck had stood, we could see hair laying on the ground – no blood - just a small amount of hair. We followed the buck’s retreat deeper into the woods without finding any sign of blood. We proceeded cautiously looking for sign on the ground and then checking the area in front of us with our binoculars. We hadn’t gone far when we spotted the big buck. He was still standing but his head was down and his back was hunched up – it was obvious that the animal was hurt and hurt bad! Without any sign of blood however, and with the fast approaching darkness and fog, we decided to back out and wait for daylight the next morning before looking any further for the animal.
When we returned to the blind and told Jonathon our decision, he was very disappointed! I tried to re-assure him that we would find his buck the next morning but had little success. I could see it in his eyes – he didn’t believe he had closed the deal on that buck! As has been the case with every hunter who has had to leave a wounded animal over night, Jonathon didn’t sleep much that night. When I showed up at the lodge at 5:00 a.m. the next morning, Jonathon was already up and dressed. It was apparent that he had been waiting for us to find his deer for quite awhile.
Daylight was slow in arriving that morning. The sky was filled with clouds and the forecast was for heavy rain and high wind all day. We were hoping the rain would hold off at least until we could find Jonathon’s buck. Just before it was light enough to see clearly, the rain started. It wasn’t a gentle drizzle! It came down in buckets surely washing away any sign of blood from Jonathon’s deer that might have been on the ground. Right after breakfast, Scott, Reno Massetti and Jonathon’s dad, Daryl Barton, donned our rain gear and headed back into the woods. There was no point in having Jonathon get wet until we actually found his deer. We went right to the spot where Scott and I had last seen the buck the night before. From there, we spread out and began to walk. It wasn’t long before Scott spotted the buck on the ground. The deer was dead – the result of one shot from Jonathon’s rifle!