Stories from Camp Alumni

My First Hunt

By Kelsey Hilderbran

I started putting in for tags the second I could after I attended a camp called the Maison Ortiz Youth Outdoor Skills Camp, when I was about 11 years old. I continually put in for tags, but never seemed to draw anything, until this year. I drew a mule deer tag up in the Gerlach area and I was ecstatic; I had finally drawn a tag after putting in for 6 years. I was quite lucky with this tag because my best friend got a tag in the same area- which meant we could go hunting together.

The sequence of events up to the week of the hunt weren’t very interesting, packing getting ready nothing special. We decided to leave Sunday the 25th of October. After a couple hours of driving and having to turn around once because we forgot the binoculars, we arrived and found a place to camp. We started setting the tents up and unloaded the truck. By the time we finished it was about 3:30-4 in the afternoon on Sunday. We decided to make the most of the daylight we had and see what we could find. We spent 2-3 hours driving around and we didn’t see a thing, until the sun was going down and we saw one buck and a few does on the mountain. We raced up the hill (more like slowly walked) just to find out that it was too dark to see where they went. We decided to go back to camp for the night and start again early in the morning.

The next morning we were up just before the sun came up. We rushed to pack some snacks for the day not knowing how long we would be away from camp. We got in the truck and started our day, starting where we had seen the deer the night before. We slowly crept along the dirt roads for about an hour maybe an hour and a half seeing nothing.

My best friend was looking out the passenger side window with binoculars and her dad was looking out the driver’s side with binoculars, although they didn’t see anything where they were looking.  Her dad started to creep forward in the truck until my best friend told him to stop and he slammed on the brakes (mind you he wasn’t going over 5 mph).

She had spotted some deer right in front of the truck maybe 125-150 yards away. I slowly got out of the truck and moved away. I saw the deer in my scope, 2 males one with smaller antlers and another with a little bit bigger antlers. I sighted in on the bigger buck and I pulled the trigger.

I shot my first deer on October 26th, 2015 with the help of my best friend and her dad. I was very lucky that the deer were so close to the truck and I was jokingly told “This isn’t how it normally goes, you’re lucky!” To me this day couldn’t get any better, but it did. Not even an hour after I harvested my deer my best friend filled her tag as well. We were both very happy campers. For my first hunt, I would have to say it couldn’t have gone any better and I definitely enjoyed who I was with. This is a memory that I will cherish forever.

 

 

My First Deer Hunt- By Hannah Dutton

My name is Hannah, ever since I could remember my Dad has gotten me into hunting. I remember playing games on the computer that involved hunting and I’ve never seen anyone get so happy over killing a pixelated deer like my Dad. As I grew older I decided to take Hunters Ed, cause just catching trout wasn’t working for me anymore. When I went in to the class and handed in the packet over to the Hunters Ed instructor I was terrified! After 8 hours of listening and watching, it was time to take the test. Everyone left with a hunters license while I was still taking the test. When I finished I handed the test back and it only took me a few seconds to see that the license was in my hands.

As months rolled by my Dad asked if I would like to go hunting this year and I was all for it. In April my Dad put my name in for the youth draw. After a month went by I found out I had gotten my tag! On October 12th the hunt was on, well not really because the first couple of days we saw nothing. As we were leaving from our third day of hunting my Uncle stopped the Ranger and hopped out of it so fast I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. “Get out and get your gun Hannah” my Uncle whispered, trying not to yell. I jumped out, grabbed my gun and walked to where my Uncle had been standing and pointing. My Dad and Aunt also came over from the Ranger and the Quad. I looked up to where my Uncle was pointing and I saw the most beautiful big 3×4. I put my gun up and my eye by the scope to look through it. As I turned off the safety and put my finger by the trigger the lucky boy moved behind the trees. We had to move on the other side of the mountain to try and get a clear shot. I never got one because that sucker moved away while we were going towards him. My Uncle gave me the choice of either going after him or to go home, I said I would give it a try and go for it. We walked up and down and all around that mountain, but found nothing. I went home that day disappointed but still had the fever to get a deer. The next couple of days My Dad and Uncle asked if I wanted to go hunting after school on October 24th, I was thinking I should rather go to my friend’s house but I said I would go. After school Me and my Uncle got dressed and headed out with my Aunt’s Dad. I was sad my Dad couldn’t go cause he had to work. I told my Uncle that since today was my last day of hunting, I would not go home empty handed. When we got up to a certain point my Aunt’s Dad yelled “stop” and pointed to a group of does. We all jumped out and I grabbed my gun and shooting stick, but there was one problem because the “Y” to the shooting stick was gone. So my Uncle put his hand down on the stick to support my gun. We sat there for about 15 minutes watching the does and waiting for one to get in a clear shot. Finally one of the does moved to where I had a perfect shot. I took a deep breath and fired my rifle. I looked up and saw the beauty stumble backwords and lay by a tree. My heart was beating so fast and we still didn’t know if she had died or not so my Uncle went to investigate. The doe stood up and was walking away fast so me and my Aunts Dad went after it. Once she stopped walking we could hardly see her through the brush. My Uncle said through the walkie talkie “hurry Hannah she aint gunna stay there forever”. When I finally saw her, she was staring right at melike it was do or die. My Aunt’s Dad told me “now just don’t be afraid to pop her in between the eyes”. So I slowly put my gun up, I was kind of struggling cause that was the first time I had held the gun free handed. I looked through the scope and took a big deep breath, counted to three and pulled the trigger while exhaling. After I shot I closed my eyes and put the gun down and opened my eyes to see that she was down! My heart stopped and waited for my Uncle to say “she’s down, you got her” on the walkie talkie. As I walked up to the doe I had just killed I stared at her for a few seconds, looked up at my Uncle and my Aunt’s Dad looking at me

as if they were waiting for a reply. I said “got it” and smiled with joy! My Uncle and Aunt’s Dad laughed and said “yes you did”.

After gutting it and packing it up, I got to my Uncle’s house to see my Dad crying and laughing. My Dad hugged me so tight that my whole body felt numb. Everyone was congratulating me as I walked through the door and I was so happy to see all the support. When I was done resting my Dad, my two Uncles and my Aunt’s dad and I went to the garage to skin her. It probably took an hour before we got done. We were all silent when we got done. We found the bullet that was the kill shot. When we were all about to leave my Aunt’s Dad said “Hannah, come here”. As I walked towards him he held out the brass shell that was to the bullet that was the kill shot. It was like I was a kid that got all of her gifts that she wanted on Christmas.

I had a blast hunting and I’m planning on doing it for a long time. This was definitely a once in a lifetime hunt for most people and I will never forget it. Thank You to the people who believed in me and supported me. I hope my story inspired young or old, new or experienced hunters to go for what they want cause in the end it’s all worth it weather you eat tag soup or not.

 

Mason T. Ortiz Camp

By Jennifer Coffey

My experience with the Mason T. Ortiz camp was an unforgettable one. When I heard about that camp I expected it to be a short camp that you would just learn the basics of the outdoors. But it ended up being so much more than that. Not only did I learn the outdoors basics, but I met great people, made new friends and learned so much more than I expected to.

From right off the bat I was greeted with smiling faces and a free t-shirt, I mean who doesn’t love free stuff. I went to meet the people who were going to be in my group and the leader of my group. I was able to meet everyone and then sit down for a delicious steak dinner. Having my family there with all my friends and soon to be friends was a fun experience. It was a nice way to introduce the camp and why they were doing the camp to parents and the children. I think that might have been the coolest part of the camp. The camp was dedicated to Mason Ortiz himself. He was just a teenager who loved being outdoors always and sadly passed at a young age, so some people got together and said “Hey, let’s keep his memory alive by making a camp and allowing his love for the outdoors to be passed on to others.” And am I glad that they did that. They were able to pass down happiness and the love of Mason’s outdoors to others.

During the course of the camp I was able to learn how to do so much outdoors and learn new skills. Being able to have your own little group with you was fun too because over those 3 short days, they were just like a second family to me. We all slept, ate, and did so much together for the most part. I have to admit that one thing that wasn’t fully enjoyable was not being able to take a shower, but if you are out hunting you are just going to have to get used to that. Besides, none of us got to take a shower so it’s not like one person just smelled funny. I didn’t feel like I was too old or young for the camp. There was such a variety of people. There were plenty of girls to chat with and the guys to talk about shooting and hunting with. You could be looked up to from a younger kid, but you yourself could also look up to someone.

During the camp I was able to shoot arrows, learn how to track, shoot a shotgun, shoot a 22 rifle, learn the basics of survival, and learn how to use a compass and other small things like learning how to make a fishing lure. When we first go to shoot the bow and arrows the instructors were always cracking jokes to lighten the mood since it was our first day. We were able to smile and laugh and realize that it’s okay to relax since we were going to be seeing more of everyone. Even though I have had previous training in some of the others I made sure that I kept an open mind. If I could tell other campers one thing, it would be to keep an open mind. Because keeping that open mind you can learn so many new things and even realize that when you shoot a bow, you are left eye dominant! I was always taught that I was right eye since I wrote with my right hand, but once I listened and used my left I was dead on at every shot. Plus, keeping an open mind is fun. You are able to see and hear thing that you realized used to go in one ear and out the other.

Before I went into the Mason T. Ortiz camp I was iffy if I wanted to become a hunter. I fully supported the sport, but I wasn’t really sure if it was the right thing for me. This camp didn’t change my mind so to speak, but it showed me different and new ideas that made me realize that hunting is one of the most interesting and unique sports still around. Hunting has become a sport that many believe is wrong. But they taught me that being able to respect the wild is also using what you have. I always saw hunting as something fun to do. Hunting still can be fun but it goes much deeper than just “fun”, it is something that we have done for a long time and I want to be able to say that I did that. Just like all of the other things we did at the camp. I can now say that I know how to track animals, I know how to read maps and use a compass. At the Mason T. Ortiz camp I was able to experience a lot that most city people haven’t even thought they could do.

When I was there I had a mentor with me and I was glad I did. But this year I have the opportunity of being a mentor and I am very excited to go. I wanted to go back to the camp but I knew that I should keep that spot open for kids who have never even got to experience the Mason T. Ortiz camp yet. So when I was told that I had the opportunity to be a mentor for other kids I knew that this would be perfect and I could experience everything all over again! I would would recommend this camp to anyone.