2014 UFFDA Camp Wilderness Hunt Report
2014 UFFDA Camp Wilderness Hunt
Hunt Report by Daniel James Hendricks
The first weekend in October has been a pretty special weekend for a lot of bowhunters from all corners of Minnesota as they gather together at Camp Wilderness, a Boy Scouts of America Reservation just north of Park Rapids. For that one week, Camp Wilderness opens its doors to these rugged outdoorsmen and women along with their physically challenged hunters, all of whom will scatter out across the Park Rapids community in an avid pursuit of whitetail deer with their bow and arrow sets. The 2014 event was even more special however, as it marked the twentieth consecutive hunt for this band of merry folk, a landmark that is not achieved by most marriages in this modern day and age.
On Sunday afternoon, a full four days before the hunt was to begin, the first of the early bird crew members began arriving at camp to initiate the preparations for the masses of volunteer staff, hunters and all of the accompanying family members that would be over-running the camp by Thursday morning, the official starting time of this tried and tested annual hunt. Those first gung-ho arrivals would be joined daily by more and more members as food preparation, blind erection on surrounding properties and accommodation preparations were made for the very special disabled guests that would begin arriving on Thursday. As the crew busied themselves completing tasks that had been done so often that they are routine to most, the excitement and festive tenor around the camp grew in intensity with each passing hour.
By Wednesday evening there was a full staff on hand and a few of the hunters had already arrived. The shooting range had been set up by the Ranger Masters and was ready to make sure the arriving hunters would have their bows tuned to perfection before they headed into the field in pursuit of the wily whitetail.It is an obtainable goal to make sure that each hunter's equipment is performing at its absolute best in a effort to eliminate inexcusable performance of equipment. If there were going to be errors made, and there are many every year, it would not be the equipment's fault.
The kitchen crew was already hard at work preparing the menu items that would feed and nourish hunters and staff alike over the next four days. It would take mountains of delicious food to keep this army of outdoor folks content, satisfied and happy. Chef Ken Sincleair was hard at work directing his crew in the preparations, knowing full well that one of the greatest testimonies of a successful UFFDA event is good food… lots of very good food.
The local ladies from around the Park Rapids area had already started to deliver fresh baked cookies, cakes, pies and other delectable creations designed to please the palate and destroy the waistline of even the fussiest of snackers; and each and every one of those delicacies was prepared with lots of Park Rapids grown love. These goodies are not only a favorite tradition at the event, but they are also one of the sweetest things that anyone could do for a bunch of burley bowhunters hanging out at deer camp in the North woods.
By dawn on Thursday, we were ready; and even before dawn, hunters had begun to arrive at camp ready to slay the dragons, dragons which most folks call whitetail deer. With each passing moment, the excited buzz of the busy hive grew louder and more intense as it gently flirted with the possibility of becoming confusion. When the dinner bell finally rang around 1:00 p.m. the situation relaxed with a much needed break as the first official hot meal of the hunt was served to all.
After lunch there was a quick guide's meeting and then the task of transporting hunters to their evening stands for the first installment of the hunt began in earnest. By 4:00 p.m. a silent calm had once again settled over the camp. Things were still hopping in the dining hall as supper preparations were being made, games of cribbage were being waged here and there and numerous conversations were taking place as UFFDA family members caught up on each other's short term history that had taken place over the past year.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday sped by all too fast with more folks joining the clan every day. But the time the banquet began on Saturday night the mess hall was bursting at the seams with
hunters, staff, landowners and local Park Rapids folks that just came to help celebrate twenty years of a very special mission; one dedicated to serving bowhunters with disabilities and one that had been born, grew up and prospered at Camp Wilderness, just a bit north of Park Rapids, MN.
Some of the highlights from the banquet included, but were not limited to Deb Kalk receiving the second-ever presentation of the "Diamond Arrow Award" along with a small gift for the many years of dedicated service to UFFDA as the Corporate Treasurer and Kitchen Chairperson. It was a very insignificant way for us members to express our thanks, but the Kalk's have been such an intricate part of the UFFDA Family since the beginning that we wanted her to know just how much we appreciate what she has done as well as how much we have come to love her and the entire Kalk family. Thank you Deb for your dedication and service to perpetuate our mission.
The Park Rapids Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association was there once again to present a check to UFFDA for this year's hunt. This proactive group of outdoor's folks has donated thousands of dollars over the past twenty years to help complete and support the UFFDA Mission. That dedicated support earned the club a Lifetime Membership in UFFDA many years ago. Their generosity is greatly appreciated by all of the UFFDA family. Thank you to the entire membership of the MDHA Park Rapids Chapter for your continued support.
One of my favorite special moments was when we honored all of the little people that help to make the UFFDA hunt so very special each and every year. The youngsters of UFFDA are extremely important to our future; and to show our appreciation we presented each of the little people with a special hat and then invited them to pose for a "kids" photo with the biggest kid in UFFDA-Land… this author. We are so pleased that the parents bring these kids along to share the experience and speaking for our entire gang, it is a wonderful pleasure to have those little smiling faces brightening the event for everyone.
Another special photo I would like to touch on is the "Tie-Guy" photo. Jim Moore was one of our disabled members for many years and he passed away a year or so ago. The couple that lived with and helped care for Jim, Mark and Mary Bruer donated Jim's personal clothing items for our members to go through and take whatever they could use. Among those clothing items were a mess of dress ties… someone came up with the idea of wearing Jim's ties in memory of the years that he brightened the UFFDA Hunts. So for the banquet, some of us "fancied up" in memory of our late and great friend, James "One Shot" Moore. And I am quite sure that those that did not get a tie were so very envious of us dudes that had them. Thank you Mark and Mary for helping us bring honor to Jim's memory one more time.
In another presentation, Mike Schruch received the prestigious Kalk Traveling Trophy for the One Shot Archery Contest over seen and judged by our Range Masters. Each disabled hunter is allowed one shot at a target that has been set up at a mystery distance. The archer closest to dead center takes the traveling trophy home for the next year and then must bring it back the next year. Along with the trophy is the guarantee of the number one spot at the next year's hunt. The number two spot is presented to the hunter that takes the biggest buck at the hunt, which this year was Terry Schwartz. So both Terry and Mike are already scheduled to hunt at the 2015 UFFDA Camp Wilderness Hunt. Congratulations to both of you.
Once the special presentations were done we got right into the main event of auctions, the raffle drawings and fun and games that always enhances an UFFDA gathering. Andy Kietzman manned the auctioneer spot and we quickly went down the "to do list" completing each phase of the program with gusto. By the end of the evening we were all forced to deal with the saddest part of an UFFDA hunt… the final good-byes. Most of the folks there lingered chatting, laughing and just plain enjoying the very special, very warm sentiment that is the at very heart of the UFFDA organization and its members.
The deer tally for the hunt tipped the scales at six. Mike Schurch and his guide, Camp Ranger Andy Kietzman scored first with a big doe. It was suspected that Andy had one tied to a tree since Mike was successful so quickly, but Brother Andy assured this author that that rumor was nothing
more than "sour grapes" on the part of those that were purely envious of his outstanding guiding skills and abilities to serve his hunter's needs.
Terry Schwartz and his guide, Steve Miller (No, not the guy with the band) dropped a buck the first night, a buck that would go on to win Terry the Big Buck Award that is presented by Delaney's Sports each year. The knife is a Schrade Uncle Henry's knife that Delaney's had engraved with the words, "2014 UFFDA Big Buck Award".They also donate another engraved Uncle Henry's knife for the official hunt knife, which is auctioned off during the Banquet on Saturday night.
And last but not least, local hunter, Tom Voight was guided by his brother Lonny and took a doe the first night of the hunt. Tom is one of the hunters that seems to get a deer every year and is one of our more consistent contributors to the camp meat pole.
Friday the weather got a little ugly and there were no deer registered on that night of the hunt. On Saturday the weather cleared and the hunters went back to work on upping the body count. Tim Sartwell, who was guided by Rick Knobloch, also took a last minute doe. Brynn Duncan, our "Pretty Princess" hunter, who was guided by the Craft clan (Dean, Kelly and Kody) took a big doe and wore a big smile to match most of the rest of the night.
And the final hunter to take his deer and to win the crossbow that was drawn from the list of successful hunters was Josh Becker. The unfortunate part of Josh's hunt was that his deer wasn't recovered until the next morning and the predators (wolves or coyotes) had eaten most of the carcass over night. He ended up with no deer, but he still had the new crossbow to take home as a trophy.
Our entire gang would like to thank the landowners who generously open the gates of their properties every year to provide a very special hunting opportunity for our very special hunters. The opportunities that are provided by these special folks give our crew the potential to take many more deer than we do, but let's face it… this is hunting and being such it is affected by excitement, adrenaline and all of the other things that make missing inevitable and success fleeting to most.
To all of our volunteers at every level of the organization, thank you for your dedication, generosity of time and continued financial support. You are the greatest and we appreciate all that you do to bring about our continued success. The facts that we have driven this mission for over 20 years and it is stronger than when it first began is an incredible testimony to the high quality of people we have getting the job done.
We would especially like to thank those of you that were here that very first year or two and who have stayed active and dedicated all these many years. You very special volunteers are leaders worthy of recognition for your service orientated hearts, your proven passion for those who need your special assistance as well as your dedication to the sport of bowhunting. You brighten the lives of so many and Karen and I are so very proud to be able to call you family.
To all of the companies, organizations, sportsman clubs and individuals that support our mission with cash and merchandise donations, thank you. Our efforts would not be possible were it not for your commendable generosity and kindness of heart. And that especially includes all of the folks that bring such great items for the auctions and raffles at every UFFDA event. There is never a donation to small and some of you possess a generosity that is indeed remarkable. Thank you one and all.
One special note here along with a incredulous thank you to Nie Bottling from Bemidjiwho for twenty straight years has provided all of the soft drinks, Gatorade and bottled water for our event. Twenty years! Absolutely amazing… thank you so very much to the entire staff at Nie Bottling..
The 2014 hunt has been put to bed and the work has already begun on the 2015 events. The work never stops and the fun is never over. If you have some ideas or would like to help support the 2015 hunt, please touch base with the UFFDA Main Desk at 320-634-3660 or email that desk at email@example.com. You can also touch base with any of the UFFDA Board members that are listed on another page in this publication. We will be happy to entertain any ideas or assistance that you would like to offer our team.
We believe that the UFFDA Camp Wilderness Hunt 21
Is going to be successful and one heck of a lot of fun!
2014 CW Hunt B:
Hunter Mike Schurch and guide, Andy Keitzman with Mike's buck taken the first afternoon of the hunt.
2014 CW Hunt C:
Terry Schwartz and guide, Steve Miller with Terry's first-day doe.
2014 CW Hunt D:
Tom Voight who was guided by his brother, Lonny with their first day doe.
2014 CW Hunt E:
Tim Sartwell with his doe taken on the last day of the hunt. Tim was guided by Rich Knobloch.
2014 CW Hunt F:
Brynn Duncan surrounded by (l to r) Richard Swenson on ground, Kelly, Dean and Kody Craft (3-generations of excellence).
2014 CW Hunt G:
Here is one good looking bunch or the "Little People" who attended this year's UFFDA Hunt wearing their special UFFDA hats and surrounding the biggest kid at the hunt.
2014 CW Hunt H:
UFFDA President Daniel Hendricks presents Deb Kalk with the Diamond Arrow Award for outstanding service, awarded for only the second time in UFFDA history.
2014 CW Hunt I:
"Nothing in the world can make feel this way, but Tie Guys!" A formal tribute to dearly departed UFFDA Hunter, Jim "One-Shot" Moore.
2014 CW Hunt J:
Head guide, complete with grandson in arms, Mark Skidmore presents Terry Schwartz with the Delaney's Sports Big Buck Award; an engraved Uncle Henry hunting knife donated by Kevin and Deb Lempola.