Fall Youth Hunts!

Kicking Bear Wisconsin Youth Hunt 2023

By Kevin Bonnar

As we rolled into October, we were very excited about our annual youth hunt here in Wisconsin. We had a larger group this year and a great mix of new hunters and guides, as well as many returning friends.

We also had a of couple new locations to hunt this year, so a crew of us headed up the weekend before to scout out the areas and set up our ground blinds. Being fairly new to the hunting world myself, this is actually one of my favorite parts of the youth hunts. We have so many awesome guides who volunteer with Kicking Bear. Just soaking up all their wisdom from years of hunting is a real blessing for me. I also enjoy the stories of past hunts. The excitement and laughter as those memories are shared really remind me that hunting is about a lot more than just the harvest of an animal. A huge thank you to the guys for sharing that knowledge and for working their tails off to set up the kids for a successful hunt this year!

We gathered Friday night and headed up to our wonderful host sites outside of Hixton, Wisconsin. Friends of Kicking Bear, Melanie and Dennis Simon, are so generous and they let us put a big group at their beautiful place called Living Waters Weddings, Retreats, and Cabin Getaways. Rick Teska also opens up his cabin for folks to stay there. With 14 young hunters and 16 guides, we needed all the space. It was so cool to be able to stay together and not be too spread out. We were very thankful.

Once settled in, we took some kiddos out to sight in rifles and then gathered for a safety meeting led by Sarge Symons. Sarge does a great job of reminding us all how to have a safe hunt and make a clean harvest too. After that, we were all off to bed with visions of venison dancing in our heads.

Saturday morning we all rolled out early to get ready before the sun came up. I was lucky enough to be paired up with Jayla, a first-time hunter, as well as Kaylie, a new guide who has graduated out of youth hunts and wants to give back by guiding the next generation of hunters! We had five brand new hunters out this year and two new guides with the Kicking Bear team as well.

With everyone settled into their blinds, we shared prayers through the famous “text thread” that keeps us all connected for the weekend. We asked God to provide safety as well as the chance to see/harvest some deer. Shortly after shooting light three of our hunters got on the board. Gunner, out with his guide Rick, got a nice doe to start. Then first-year hunter, Ethan, and his guide, Tyler, got another nice doe. Another first-year hunter, Devin, and his guide, Sarge, rounded out the morning harvest with the first buck of the trip! Many others saw deer as well, so the whole crew was pretty excited after the morning sit.

It is always fun to come back into camp and hear the stories and see the smiles! We gathered around bowls of Sarge’s famous chili as all the young hunters discussed the morning hunt. We were then treated with an amazing message from Larry Guthrie. He reminded us to trust God in all things and see how He works for good no matter what.

With bellies full of chili and a good word from Larry turning in our minds, we were ready to get back out in the blinds. Two veterans, Jack and Heather, whom Ray had been hunting with at Al Dittrich’s place, joined us for the afternoon hunt as well! There is nothing better than connecting these youngsters who enjoy so many freedoms with the folks who stepped up to protect those freedoms.

Lots of deer and turkey were on the move Saturday evening, but David and his guide, Bobby, were the only pair to harvest. He got a nice buck to close out the day.

We headed back to Living Waters and as the hungry crew grabbed supper we were blessed by Michael Rambo and the Collective Choir who led worship for us. It would bring tears to your eyes seeing this beautiful barn lit up with lights and amazing Gospel music pouring out of it. Believers shared testimonies and prayers. It was just a beautiful time for all to thank God for such an amazing time together.

Sunday morning rolled around and although the crew was moving a little slower, we got everyone out to the blinds and locked in for our last chance to fill tags. Our friend Reese, and his guide Tony, who was a first-year guide, locked in just after sun up and harvested a nice doe!

The rest of us saw a lot of deer again, but they were either on the move or just out of reach. Around 10 am we started breaking down blinds and headed back to Living Waters for church together.

This is another favorite time of the weekend. All the hunters and guides gather and stories are told with so much encouragement and laughter in the group! Pastor Billy shared his testimony and a message with us all. Then we prayed together. We were all so thankful for God’s creation, His provision, and to be connected with each other through our belief in Jesus. It was really beautiful.

We want to thank Dennis and Melanie Simon, Rick Teska, LTM Farms, Duane Dutton, Larry Guthrie, Michael Rambo and the Collective Choir, and Al Dittrich for everything they did to help make the weekend awesome. Also, a HUGE thank you to all the guides who stepped up to mentor kids on the hunt. The biggest thanks of all goes to the Lord. We know these opportunities He provides have a lasting impact on us all long after the hunt is over. Thank you, Jesus!

Foundation for Hope Youth Hunt 2023

By Ray Howell

I am sitting in a tree with my bow this morning, waiting for the opportunity to harvest a deer. I can’t stop thinking about all that went on last week with the Foundation for Hope hunt at Cedar Hollow Ranch in Grayling, Michigan.

When I arrived, I met up with lots of friends and volunteers. Every year, FFH puts on several camps like this to give less fortunate kids a great hunting experience. We had six kids in camp and all of them were dealing with some form of cancer or other health challenge. The whole heart of the weekend was to let these kids unplug from those challenges and have the time of their lives chasing after dreams of harvesting a big deer!

On this hunt, I had the opportunity to guide Ashton, who is 17. He had never harvested a buck. On the first day, we hunted a large field that had several deer feeding in it morning and night. There were two bucks in particular we were watching for. They were both big mature animals.

The afternoon was going great. I was sitting in the blind with Ashton, and his mom Nina. Listening to the stories of how cancer affected their lives just humbled me. But on this hunt, they were away from the doctors and hospitals and just enjoying God‘s creation in the outdoors.

The rut was just starting, and we were fortunate enough to have a few does feeding in the field. As the evening went on two young bucks came out and started chasing the does around. The girls wanted nothing to do with them. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this big mature buck stepped out, shaking his head and displaying his antlers. Then he went after the younger bucks. He ran them off and headed back toward the does.

Ashton stayed calm and did it just like we practiced. For me, my heart was pounding loudly, and my breathing was a little out of control. I was trying to keep myself calm. Ashton waited until the buck turned broadside to take the shot. It seemed like forever before he pulled the trigger.

When the shot rang out the buck dropped in his tracks. Ashton made a perfect shot. As we walked up on the deer, there was no ground shrinkage. It got bigger the closer we got! We were hooting and hollering with tears of joy. Ashton and his mom accomplished a dream together. And I got to be a part of it. God is amazing!

All of the Kids on this hunt got opportunities and harvested magnificent bucks. During the day, there was lots of fun and camaraderie. We got to shoot arrows and throw tomahawks with a lot of laughter. We hunted early in the mornings and in the evenings.

At night we had a big campfire. We stayed warm with lots of songs and laughter. There were testimonies shared on how God has been working in their lives. Again, this year it was an incredible hunt for me. I am so blessed that God has allowed me to do the calling He has given me and to be equally yoked with great people like the Foundation for Hope. To share the truth of God’s love is amazing!

Kicking Bear is so very thankful for another great year of camps, hunts and mentorship, thank you Jesus!!

Kicking Bear Ministry has been taking youth off the streets and changing their lives for over 20 years God has allowed us to keep His camps and outings completely free-of-charge to all participants due to the great partners He has brought to the ministry. Under the direction of God Kicking Bear has changed the lives of thousands of kiddos and their families!  Thank you for your prayers, partnership and support.

We are able to continue to host free events to the public and change the lives of the ones who need us most because of the continued financial support of people like you. Please consider either a one-time, tax deductible, year-end gift or a monthly recurring donation by clicking the “Support Us” button.

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