I met one of the coolest bunch of young hunters ever assembled on a recent Kids Hunting for a Cure event in Tennessee. KHFAC leads kids, many with terminal illnesses, on organized hunts to raise money for cancer research and to teach them that they can make a difference.
Rain, wind and cold could not dampen the enthusiasm, eagerness and spirit of our kids during the hunt.
Our home base, the Carroll County civic center, was jam packed when we arrived with guides, pro hunters, game call companies and eager kids awaiting the morning hunt. Everybody enjoyed great fellowship, a massive dinner, entertainment and an auction to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s hospital.
Outdoor industry companies, professional turkey hunters, guides and television camera crews gathered at the civic center to meet with their young hunters. All spent their own time and money to get there, but when it comes to helping kids, it’s always worth it. Everyone involved in this hunt did everything in their power to ensure the kids had the hunt of a lifetime.
Guide Kelly Cooper drove all the way from Pennsylvania, Von Eubanks flew in from California, and Terry Phillips, Don Shipp and Mike Miller came in early on Tuesday just to help scout hunting spots.
My brother Marty and I met with our kids when we got there. I hunted with 12-year-old Blake Carpenter and Marty hunted with Blake’s 10-year-old brother Bailey. They are two great kids and we all had a lot of fun together.
Marty and I scouted our farm earlier in the day and we set up blinds for Blake and our cameras. Marty opted to run and gun with Bailey in his area of the farm. Even in the rainy, blustery conditions we managed to hear gobbling and call in turkeys. Unfortunately, Blake missed an opportunity to take a gobbler. He got off a shot at a nice tom at about 30 yards, but it was a clean miss. Bailey didn’t get a shot at a gobbling turkey that closed in on Marty’s calling in thick cover at 17 steps.
But this hunt was about more than just killing turkeys. The four of us all had a great time, and I think Bailey and Blake are now hooked on turkey hunting. Mission accomplished.
As of Saturday afternoon there were 22 birds harvested and 23 reported misses. We only got to hunt for one day, however my long-time friend and fellow road dog, Terry Phillips, hunted our area Sunday morning and took a nice gobbler with his hunter Trent Kelsey.
Fostering an appreciation for the outdoors in the next generation is a primary goal of Kids Hunting for a Cure (KHFAC), which was founded in 2007 by Dr. John Waples and Dave Norval.
“When you take them out, their eyes sparkle,” says “Super” Dave Norval.
Based in Tennessee, KHFAC is entirely volunteer-run, but there’s no problem getting people to donate time, land and knowledge.
“Successful hunters love to teach,” says Waples. “Getting them to take kids out is easy. You just need an organizational base. We provide that platform.”
KHFAC has raised approximately $240,000 nationally through organized hunts, auctions and cookouts. The organization currently operates in seven states and aims to have at least 70 chapters by the end of 2011.