The A-Team

As the holidays neared, my wife and I prepared for the long trip from our home in Brazil to South Carolina. I checked e-mails before heading to the airport on Dec. 22 and saw a message with photos from my friend, 10-year-old Klay Elixson, who lives in Florida: "Dear Mr. Andy, this morning at about 7:30 I shot a 110-pound doe. Here are some pictures of us cleaning it. I'll see you at Bang's on Christmas day. Your friend, Klay"
Since it was Klay's first deer, he received a hunter's baptism with blood from the kill.
When we arrived at Bang's Paradise Valley Hunting Club (www.paradisevalleyhuntingclub.com) in Ehrhardt, South Carolina, a personalized banner welcomed us. If you haven't seen my previous galleries, I have severely limited mobility because of ALS. My good friend Ron Wagner always finds the time and energy to help me enjoy the outdoors.
We love the lodge's family atmosphere. Owner Bang Collins even remembered Ligia's B-Day.
Keeping an eye out for reindeer, we passed this sign while driving back to the lodge after hunting on Christmas Eve. At dusk I had blown a shot at a doe by squeezing the trigger's cable release too soon (Ron helps me aim the rifle). The bullet flew high over the deer's back...it was a Chriss-miss.
When Klay arrived with his grandfather, Rick Hires, I gave my amigo a gift. The shirt reads, "Squirrel...It's what's for dinner."
The next morning we collected some fixin's for dinner with help from my friend Paul Oestreich.
Klay demonstrated his marksmanship skills with a 60-yard head shot, using a Ruger .17 HMR and BSA scope.
Paul and I hunted and fished together frequently when I lived in Philadelphia. He enjoys hunting small game and waterfowl in southeastern Pennsylvania but had yet to take a deer.
Here I'm holding the A-Team Squirrel Eraser.
The Marlin 917VSCF bolt-action .17 HMR is topped with an Alpen Kodiak 6-24x50 scope that brings 'em in so close we can read the rodents' minds. Bushytails don't fear us--only because they never see it coming.
We had good news when we got back to the lodge on New Year's Eve: At 5:10 p.m. Ron and I heard a shot from Paul's stand, about 800 yards to our northwest. Fifteen minutes later we saw four does at the edge of a food plot and dropped one with a shot to the boiler room.
Ligia, Bang and Tom Collins help celebrate the A-Team's success. Paul shot the larger doe on the right.
I knew what was coming when Tom probed the entry hole in Paul’s deer and said, “I think that’s a bullet fragment. See if you can feel it, Paul.”
Shlaap! Tom administers the baptism rites while Ligia and I witness the ceremony like proud Godparents.
Paul said he wasn't too surprised by his baptism, he just didn't expect it to happen quite like this.
Memories like this last forever. It's always fun to welcome friends into the Deerslayer Fraternity.
I can't take fresh meat with me to Brazil, and Ron's freezer is full of mule deer and antelope from our Wyoming trip. That means Paul will take home lots of tasty venison.
Hmmm... Ron is normally calm but here it seems he lost his head while helping load deer for the trip to Southern Spice Deer Processing.
Never one to waste valuable resources, Paul cuts off a deer tail to use for tying flies and jigs.
New Year's Day: South Carolina's deer season ends and Bang makes sure his booth is ready for "show season." Look for him at the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show (Harrisburg, PA) and other events.

Andy Hahn and his team of merry men take on South Carolina for a holiday hunt of a lifetim.