On December 10th through December 14th Benefit4Kids sent 13 year old Steven Butts on an Outdoor Wish hunt for a big buck on the Eastern shores of Maryland. Steven is on the heart transplant list in New York and needs to receive a transplant by this summer. Steven was hunting with Steve Rupert who is one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to whitetails. The weather during their hunt absolutely sucked and for the most part kept the deer from moving much. They saw some deer but no where near what they would have under normal circumstances. Although they hunted hard they didn't get a deer. Some might think the hunt was unsuccessful. They couldn't be more wrong.

I talked with Steven last night on the phone and you could still hear the excitement in his voice. Steven did have a few does and small bucks that he could have taken but he was hoping for a big buck. They just weren't moving much in the bad weather. Wednesday brought driving rains, heavy winds and ice and they were unable to even get out hunting. On Thursday they did see several does and a small buck and at 9:30 a really good buck but there was no shot opportunity. Thursday evening they again saw 2 small bucks but Steven held out still hoping for the buck of his dreams. Friday once again the weather turned sour with heavy rains moving into the area again. Friday was also Steve Rupert's birthday and though he could have stayed home with his family the day found he and Steven out trying to get Steven his buck. They hunted the whole day but with the bad weather only saw a few small does. Maybe Saturday would be Steven's day.

Saturday morning found the deer still bedded down from the brutal weather from the day before and Steven's chances of taking a big buck grew dim as they went out for the final hunt that afternoon. As Steven and his Dad sat in their blind they quietly talked about the hunt and the coming trip back home. Neither of them expected what happened next. As they whispered back and forth Steven looked out the window of the blind to see not one but 3 bucks and a doe standing 70 yards out in front of them in the woods. One of the bucks was a big 140 class with a drop tine. It was the type of buck Steven had hoped to get a crack at during his hunt. Steven slowly raised his gun as the buck stood there unaware of the hunters hidden in the blind. Then it happened.

Steven slowly lowered his gun and told his Dad "the shot's just not right" and they watched as Steven's buck and the others slowly melted into the woods. Darkness soon came with 2 button bucks and a small doe being the only other deer to come by them that night. Steven's "Outdoor Wish" hunt had come to an end. As a hunter I know how hard Steven's decision was to make and I could not be prouder of him if he had taken that huge buck. When we talked on the phone I asked him why he didn't shoot and he told me it was "because he wasn't sure he could put a good shot on the deer where he was". To me when Steven made that decision he showed that he was a true hunter.

Although Steven didn't get his "dream buck" this story isn't over yet. Steve Rupert says Steven is an incredible kid and has extended an open invitation to Steven to come back next year for another go at the huge bucks on Maryland's eastern shores. Steven said after he gets his new heart he's going to go back and instead of a wish hunt they'll have a celebration hunt. With any kind of luck they'll have another "successful hunt".

Steve Pray
President, Benefit4Kids

B4K Notes:
Steve Rupert of Shore Bet Outfitters in Maryland donated Steven’s Hunt.
Benefit4Kids paid for Steven’s travel, food and lodging.