A special experience

PRIZE BUCK: Bradley Hall of Sand Lake was among the participants who was able to fulfill a dream during the annual Special Youth Challenge Hunt. Hall shot an eight-point buck at the ranch on Friday, Aug. 23. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

PRIZE BUCK: Bradley Hall of Sand Lake was among the participants who was able to fulfill a dream during the annual Special Youth Challenge Hunt. Hall shot an eight-point buck at the ranch on Friday, Aug. 23. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

BITELY — Legends Ranch in Bitely was open again last weekend for a special hunting venture.

Every August, the ranch sets up its annual Special Youth Challenge Hunt, which is dedicated to the dream of a special child.

Ranch officials note that the event is set up to use the outdoors as a vehicle to help participants with disabilities have some unique enjoyment, build self esteem and increase confidence while going on a deer hunt.

Skipper Bettis of Remus and his family have been involved with the ranch for 16 years. The ranch, right off M-37, between Brohman and Baldwin, encompasses five square miles.

“These youngsters are from all parts of the country,” Bettis said during the event last weekend.

The Bettis family have had the special hunt for 15 years.

“On this week we have eight that come in,” Bettis said. “Some of the original ones get picked, but because of health reasons might not be able to come for this week so we bring them back later. This is the special week for this.”

Bettis said the ranch looks for those who never thought they’d be able to participate in a hunt.

“There are possibly some health factors that have really come to light, maybe they won’t be around as long as we’d like them to be,” he said. “It’s word of mouth and folks that have been involved in the program from the beginning. If you look at Virgina, North Carolina, we have folks from there, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan and Pennsylvania … they’ve been involved through visiting with us, somebody they know was chosen, and they get involved.”

Bettis calls it a “fun” weekend.

The goal is for the participants to have hunting success in their quest for a deer, although there are no guarantees. But the experience remains unique.

Bettis notes that some have severe disabilities including paralysis and sometimes need a blow tube to pull the trigger.

Stanwood area resident Randy LaPreze of the local Whitetails Unlimited charter was also at the event and notes that the chapter helps play a role in supporting the activity.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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