Eric Peterson's Outdoor Wish Hunt

14-year-old Eric Peterson is suffering from brain cancer. He's been fighting it for some time now. He fights hard but it's a tough fight with little time for all of the things a 14-year-old boy should be out doing. That is until now. This time he faced another battle, one he's been looking forward to for some time now. Thanks to the funding made available by the auction at the 2003 MOJAM Eric was able to enter a battle of wits with a big bull elk on the bull's home turf.

Our friend Bill Klein from Deer tracks Ranch guided Eric in his search for his dream of bagging a big bull. Thanks to the generosity of so many people not only was Eric able to hunt the hunt of his dreams but also his Mom, Dad, brother and 2 sisters were able to accompany him on his trip. I'd like to thank all of you who have supported Benefit4Kids in our quest to help kids. It's because of what all of you do that we are able to grant the Outdoor Wishes of kids like Eric. Please join me in congratulating Eric winning his battle with the majestic Bull Elk. Who knows, it may be a steppingstone to winning an even more important battle Eric will return to after his hunt. God bless.

Well as we all know sometimes bad weather can affect the outcome of any hunt no matter how well planned. Just prior to Eric's hunt some really nasty weather moved into the area and things looked grim. Eric had one thing on his side and that was Bill Klein at Deer Tracks.

After lunch on Friday Eric and Bill headed out in search of Eric's bull. I had just talked to Bill on the phone and even this veteran of many hunts was more than a little nervous about the weather. He told me "Steve, if we don't get him one tonight I'm not sure what's going to happen. The weather looks really bad for the next few days and Eric can only hunt until Sunday night" before he has to head back for more treatments". I wished Bill luck and silently prayed that things would go well and they could tag Eric's bull that night. They hunted hard that night and got a glimpse of a few bulls but no shots presented themselves. As darkness fell they were still empty handed and the predicted rain was starting to fall and the winds whipped at 40+ mph.

Once back at the lodge Eric told Bill "don't worry we'll get him tomorrow". Bill smiled and told Eric "you bet" even though the weather was suppose to remain just terrible for the next 2 days. Eric and his family shared a great meal with Bill and they sat around the fireplace sharing stories of past hunts and hopes for the days ahead. That night as they headed for bed Bill crossed his fingers and said a few prayers. He told me that somehow he felt Eric was right and they'd get Eric's bull even though experience told him it wasn't going to happen.

When the alarms went off early Saturday morning the wind was still howling pretty steadily. Although the weatherman had promised continued rain throughout the day there seemed to be a break in the clouds and the stars shone brightly overhead. Bill was sure his prayers had been answered and they quickly ate breakfast and headed back out to where they had seen a nice 6X6 the night before. Bill figured they didn't have a lot of time so he brought one of the other guides along to try and help locate a bull for Eric. He wasn't sure how long their luck would hold with the weather and figured and extra body would be a big help.

As they were setting up to do some calling several bulls bugled in the distance. Bill hoped he could get one in close enough for Eric to get a shot. As the wind whipped around them it was sometimes hard to tell where the few bugles they heard were coming from. Bill told Eric it would be tough to get one in this weather but Eric just smiled seemingly knowing something Bill didn't.

As the morning hours ticked by Bill became increasingly anxious as the clouds started rolling back in. They were hanging low and threatening rain and the wind seemed to be picking up again. Suddenly Bill saw movement off to their left. They hadn't heard anything from that direction earlier but in this wind anything could happen. Bill got Eric turned just as a big 6X6 walked out about 70 yards away. Eric quickly raised his rifle and though he thought his heart would jump out of his chest he calmly squeezed the trigger on his .35 Marlin. The bull stumbled at the shot but didn't go down. Eric quickly put another round in the bull and he crumpled to the ground from 2 well placed shots. Eric's outdoor wish of harvesting a big bull elk had come true and even if only for a short time his medical condition, doctors and needles were forgotten.

After a short time admiring Eric's trophy and taking some pictures Bill started the work of getting it back to the lodge. He and Eric were both anxious to get back and share their good fortune with Eric's family. As they arrived back at the lodge and were met by a bunch a smiling faces thunder rolled in the distance and a steady rain started to fall. It didn't matter now though. The kid with the infectious smile and the man who guided him to his dream had beaten the odds and both had memories that would last them a lifetime.

Our thanks to all of you who have helped make Eric's and other kids like him Outdoor Wishes come true. Without your caring and generosity kid's like Eric may never have the chance to live their dreams. May your quivers always be full and the winds in your favor. God Bless.

Steve Pray
President, Benefit4Kids

B4K Notes: Eric's hunt was donated in part by Deer Tracks Ranch.
Eric and his families travel and expenses were paid for by Benefit4Kids as was his mount.