I approached Dave Louk to get his thoughts of honoring his son Cody by establishing a foundation that would help youth who wanted to enjoy the outdoors but might need some assistance. Cody was one of the founding members of the Northern Outdoors and one heck of a young man. He was tragically killed in a car accident not long after his graduation from Lowry High school. At the time of this conversation I was thinking of a seven year old boy named Dillon Maestrejuan. Dillon has cerebral palsey and has trouble walking and communicating. But that is all that Dillon has working against him because he is sharp as a tack and has a spirit you cannot believe. Dillon was the inspiration for the Cody Louk “Dream Keeper” Foundation. It is only fitting that Dillon would be the first recipient of the “Dream Keeper” Foundation.
We did have some experience as we helped with a hunt in conjunction with Nevada Outdoorsman in Wheelchairs last hunting season. The foundation purchased a landowner antelope tag for a 15-year old boy from Gardnerville named Joey Jacobsen. Joey was able to harvest a great buck for his first big game animal.
This year Dolan Miller, from Trident Farms in Kings River, Nevada was gracious enough to donate a landowner tag for the 2011 hunting season. This tag was going to Dillon. Dillon was presented his tag at the annual Nevada Muleys dinner in front of a packed house. Then a rifle provided by Nevada Muleys was auctioned off with the proceeds going to the “Dream Keeper” Foundation. The gun was purchased by serveral very generous sportsman and donated back three times. The last winner of the gun was Dillon’s grandfather, Isidro Echeto. This was also the gun that Dillon would use on his hunt. In all, over $9,000 was raised for the foundation. What a night!
Now preparations had to be made for the hunt. First of all we had to figure out how Dillon was going to be able to actually pull the trigger. Dillon’s mother, Tina, found a device that would activate the trigger when Dillon would push a siring like a plunger. One problem accomplished. Next we wanted Dillon to be able to look at the animal and be part of the aiming process. To do this we needed to find a device that would allow Dillon to look at a monitor which would allow him to be a major part of the action. After many failed attempts at either trying something on our own or looking online, we finally found the solution to our problems. We found a rifle scope that you could actually hook a monitor up to. This would allow Dillon to see what was going on in the scope and he could decide when to communicate to the person sighting the rifle when he was going to punch the plunger and activate the trigger. All of this is good in theory but as we would find out, it would be a little more challenging in the field. After many times at the range figuring out the gun, scope, trigger and many other factors, we felt confident that we could shoot up to 300 yards. The scope would allow us to put in a ballistics chart from gun and ammunition. If we knew the yardage, all we had to do was change a setting in the scope and it would adjust to the person sighting the gun and would just have to put the crosshairs right behind the shoulder. Again, it all sounds good in theory.
Finally, it was time to go hunting. The Louk Foundation crew, Brad Bauman, Cody Binkerhoff, Eddie Booth and Todd Goodale had a camp setup for Dillon’s familywhen they arrived. After a great dinner, plans were made. Dillon, Tina (Dillon’s mom), Cody and either Brad or myself would be in the blind running that camera. I was having issues with my recent surgery and I was hoping to make it out before the crew left for the hunt. Fortunately I was able to make it there before everyone left which put me in the blind behind the camera. Brad and the rest of the crew would be spread out looking for groups of antelope that we would go after if the blind did not work out. A well laid out plan. Again, in theory.
After several hours in the blind without much action, it was determined to get more mobile and set up in the back of the truck and we would go after the antelope rather than have them come to us. The crew had done a great job finding a buck that we would be able to put the stalk on. Because Dillon has limited motor skills, it was decided that Cody would be the person in charge of sighting the gun on the buck. Tina would make sure the monitor was powered up and that Dillon could see everything through the monitor. When everything was right, Dillon and Cody would decide when to shoot. When Dillon activated the plunger it had some delay so Cody was going to have to stay on the buck. Not an easy task.