Guiding hunters is about more than hunting. A lot of what we do involves mentoring, teaching and, more importantly, learning and making new friends.
Last spring I had the pleasure of meeting and guiding two new friends. The two men brought their wives and son/grandson. The father-in-law/son-in-law combo was admirable in itself. I always appreciate families who connect and get along enough to travel together.
What was more admirable was their 21-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy. He was so excited to make a trip to Colorado. The two hadn’t planned to take him in the mountains to pursue turkeys, but my husband immediately said, “Colter’s coming tomorrow morning.”
Colter’s face lit up, and the family smiled, with a tad of doubt beneath. You see, Colter has difficulty hiking, and the elevation and terrain would be a challenge for him. His parents told us about him being born with cerebral palsy and the doctors suggesting they “pull the plug.” They said he wouldn’t survive without life support, and if he did, he’d be a vegetable. His parents didn’t listen to the doctors’ advice, and the happy young man has finished high school and now holds a job of his own.
Although Colter can hike, he sometimes experiences tremors and large amounts of pain. After some discussion and gathering of gear, we agreed Colter would come with us. We would make the morning hunt a short one, so he didn’t have to hike too far, and he would go with his granddad and Hank.
The excitement on Colter’s face was priceless. It was even better the next day when we returned after the morning hunt to see him with a shed elk antler he’d found. Seeing the rays of excitement beaming from such a person is priceless. Those are the moments we live for.
I didn’t think I could imagine seeing that young man any more excited.
The excitement gets bigger! I received a message the other day. It was his dad, and he said Colter had tagged his first deer!
Colter has been trying to get a deer for about four years. He’d hunted squirrels and turtles in the past but hadn’t been able to catch up with a deer yet. He’d been hunting with his dad, his papa and his nana. That morning, he and his mom headed to the stand. His mom said the deer came out from everywhere. There were does and fawns but no bucks.
The two waited and finally a lone buck came in. He wasn’t the largest buck in the country. She asked Colter of he wanted to take him. Colter said, “Yes.”
The deer didn’t make it easy on Colter. His mom recounted, “Because of his cerebral palsy he has almost no use of his right hand. He had to shoot left-handed, and the buck was on the right side of the blind. The buck headed toward the tree line.” The two quietly swapped places and scooted around. He lifted his Browning A-Bolt 7mm-Mag and positioned himself for the shot. Mom asked if he was on him and he said he was. She said, “Shoot!” As soon as she’d said the word, he took the shot.
Although it was a difficult shot for the young man, he did fabulously. The two cried for joy. They let the rest of the family know and everyone “cried their eyes out.”
It was a memorable moment for that family and yes, Colter was even more excited than that moment I saw him, standing in the high-country, holding an elk antler, on the trip of a lifetime. He and his family have now experienced the hunt of a lifetime, and he’s an inspiration to us all.