Keith Tatum's Outdoor Wish

Day One, Sunday December 1st

While driving to Michigan from Southern Georgia Keith and his dad saw a little snow in a plowed field in Ohio. Keith's dad told Keith "there's some snow, why don't you take a picture". Keith was convinced that it was actually cotton in the field instead of snow and didn't figure they'd see any snow on their hunt. Little did he know what awaited him in Michigan's frozen north.

Bill met Keith and his dad at 10am at their motel in Gaylord, Mi. and took them out for breakfast. Although they had spoken many times on the phone this was their first "in person" chance to talk. Keith and his dad expected to go right to the ranch after breakfast but we had a little surprise stop off for them first. Bill told them they needed to make a quick stop to "pick up a few things for the hunt".

Soon they pulled into Jay's Sporting Goods in Gaylord and as they entered the store Bill let the folks at the store know that "the kid with the birthday" was here.

They were led to one of Jay's conference rooms where there was a surprise birthday party waiting for Keith. A cake was sitting there along with just a few items donated to Keith by Jay's. Jay's store manager Mark Copeland presented Keith with a new insulated camo jacket, insulated bibs, a great pair of LaCrosse boots and numerous other items like grunt calls, hand warmers, etc. to make sure this young boy from Georgia was nice and warm while hunting the frigid northern Michigan woods.

Then just when Keith thought it couldn't get any better he was presented with a $500 gift certificate to use for a shopping spree at Jay's for any other outdoor goods he needed. Keith used part of the gift certificate to buy a new .22 mag rifle and scope so he could go small game hunting back home with his brothers. He was so excited at this point he didn't even know what else to get with the remainder of his gift certificate. Keith and his dad decided to come back to Jay's Weds. on their way home to pick up the gun and spend some time shopping then.

After leaving Jay's they headed out to Muy Grande to get settled in for the next days hunt. When they got to the ranch Keith and his guide went to the range to "check the zero" on Keith's gun so if his buck of a lifetime stepped out he'd be ready. Back at the lodge Bill sat looking out at a large pond when a 140-class buck stepped out of the woods. The buck walked out onto the pond that was mostly frozen over only to fall through the thin ice. Bill said it was quite a sight to see this big buck fight his way out of the pond, shake himself off and saunter back into the woods with his pride seemingly just a little hurt.

Keith returned from the range ready for the morning hunt and as they sat by the evening fire they couldn't help but admire the beauty of the newly fallen 6" of fresh snow covering the area. Tired from their long trips the hunters relaxed and told stories, as hunter will do. Tomorrows hunt looks promising. Maybe, just maybe tomorrow a dream will come true.

Day Two, Monday December 2nd The Morning Hunt

This morning as Keith, Bill and Derrick Keith's guide headed out in the pre-dawn darkness they were greeted by -4 degree temps and a beautiful Turkish cresent moon shining down on the fresh snow from the evening before.

Not long after getting set up this morning they spotted an awesome 150 class 8 point that Keith and Derrick decided to go after. The buck never offered Keith a shot before melting back into the woods. They decided that this afternoon with the new snow they would try to do a spot and stalk hunt for this particular buck.

Keith and Derrick left Bill back at the lodge to take some pictures while they headed out after the buck. Keith told Bill one thing he wants to do before he leaves the ranch is to take the time to accomplish another of his dreams he never thought he'd get the chance to do, he wants to build a Snowman. Bill has promised him that as soon as they get the chance they'll live that dream and spend some time making Keith's snowman.

Day Two, Monday December 2nd Afternoon Hunt

This afternoon Keith and Derrick were able to spot 5 different bucks including the one Keith is after but no shot opportunities presented themselves. One of the bucks was estimated to be around the 200 class and they rattled him in but he just wouldn't give Keith a clear shot. Keith is having an absolute ball and has had the pleasure of meeting and swaping stories around the fire with famed hunting author and videographer Mark Sullivan.

Keith was so pumped up from today's hunt that he asked if they could skip breakfast in the morning so they can get out and get set up earlier tomorrow. Not much more to report tonight but tomorrows weather is looking real favorable for the hunt and with lady luck on his side maybe tomorrow Keith will be able to finally get a crack at his dream buck.

Day Three, Tuesday December 3rd as described by Bill

This morning's temperature was a whoppin’ 8 degrees! No moon this morning, but in the dawning light, the glistening of the ice crystals on the trees and grasses was beautiful. Today began with sitting in a blind again, but only for a short time. After about an hour, Derrick had some other ideas. I cannot say enough about Derrick. Take someone that has a degree in wildlife biology and forestry, toss him into a place like Muy Grande for over 4 years, make him Ranch Manager….and then have him guide. Wow….Derrick has more knowledge of whitetails than anyone I have ever met….and the owner of Muy Grande, Glen, wanted only the best for a guide for Derrick was our man. So… to do a bit of spot ‘n stalking.

About 9 am, a buck was seen…no one could get a good look at him at first, but his body size indicated that he was large…so the stalk was on ! The temp was now about 15 degrees, with about 6 inches of snow on the ground…crunchy, to say the least and not ideal stalking conditions. Getting within about 100 yards before the buck sensed what was going on, Keith and Derrick set up for a shot…but the buck didn’t get that big by being took off, white flag flying. As the buck neared the 150 yard mark, Derrick grunted to him…the buck topped a small rise, and Derrick grunted again. The buck stopped…..glanced over his shoulder…then, as if the ultimate Birthday present, he turned broadside !

His tail was starting to flick…it would be only a matter of a few more seconds before he bolted into the woodline, a scant 20 yards away. Derrick told Keith to take him if he thought he could make the shot….Keith quickly dropped to one knee, steadied the rifle, clicked off the safety and squeeeeezzzed the trigger. WHAM ! THWACKK ! The buck kicked up like a mule and dove for the woodline. Unbelievable….if I had a picture of that buck standing broadside, and showed it to Keith and put a red mark right where he should shoot it….well, that’s EXACTLY where he hit it ! After waiting a bit, everyone eased up to the rise and looked down into the woodline….there he was !!!! A mere 25 yards from where he was initially shot.

Later examination would reveal that Keith had completely taken off the top of the heart. 154 yard shot, offhand/kneeling with only a brief few seconds to make it happen….I gotta tell ya, I couldn’t be prouder !

Well, let’s fast forward to the late afternoon….the snow sucked….couldn’t pack it for anything, so a snowman was out of the question. That evening, we had a grand Birthday dinner….Sauteed backstraps (the Professional Hunter offered up his, so that Keith could take his home), with a wild cherry demi-glace’, asparagus, ceasar salad, and then a fantastic birthday cake made by Jeannie…Glen’s wife.

Keith got more presents, including a shirt/hat logoed with Muy Grande on them, a video of Muy Grande hunts and Mark Sullivan gave him an autographed copy of his latest movie too ! Benefit4Kids gave him a custom made hunting knife, and then he also got a PSE Spyder bow, COMPLETELY setup including arrows, compliments of our own “Maco12”, owner of JJT outdoor sports. I had a birthday card for him that was signed by everyone at the ranch….15 total signatures, and we sung happy birthday to him. After dinner, Glen invited us over to his house (just next door) to watch videos….well, unbeknownst to us, we entered a MASSIVE log home, and went into an actual theatre ! Glen had this theatre built in his house, and the chairs were leather, reclining lazyboys. We watched some more of Mark’s safari movies, then back to the lodge to get some sleep. Oh, by the way…..Keith’s buck will be mounted for him also, so that he can display it in his house and keep them memories flowing.

Day Four, Wednesday December 3rd

Wednesday morning found Keith and his dad headed for home with some memories that will last them a lifetime. On their way they stopped by Jay's to pick up Keith's gun and finish his spending his gift certificate. Somehow I don't think they had any trouble finding something to talk about on the way home.

Thanks to all of you who have helped to make this hunt possible for Keith by donating to Benefit4Kids. Tonight you can go to bed knowing you made a difference in the life of a young man and have helped put a smile on his face that I don't think you could get off with dynamite. God Bless each and every one of you.

Steve Pray
President, Benefit4Kids

B4K Notes: Keith's hunt was donated by Muy Grande Ranch
Keith's lodging, travel, shopping spree and taxidermy were covered by Benefit4Kids
Keith also received many gifts from Jay's sporting goods and their employees.