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September 17: Tyler Finchum

This story began 2 years ago. After a year after I lost Evan, Dream Season The Journey cast traveled to Hulett, Wyoming for a group hunt.  That is when I met Lloyd and Jan Pruett. The competition was held at their ranch Buckhorn Ridge. When we drew for the ranches to get to hunt I drew theirs as well. I was fortunate enough to take a nice 10 point that year.

After the hunt Lloyd called me to the side and asked if either of Pam's boys hunted and I told him that her youngest Tyler was showing some interest. He said that he and Jan had talked and wanted invite us out on a hunt ! They knew I had lost my only child and hunting buddy and reached out with this kind gesture! I was so touched and I will never forget them for it either! The next year went bye without Tyler drawing a tag. Then this year he drew and the hunt was planned.

I set Tyler up a PSE Toxic crossbow for the trip. I set the scope on the bow and then I let him shoot the bow. He had never shot a crossbow and I was impressed with the performance of the bow and with Tyler on how well he shot it. Out to 50 yards he could keep his groups in a 2 inch circle. I knew he was ready!

This hunt was going to be a lot of first for Tyler. He's never flown on a plane, never been out west and had never bow hunted. He was nervous on the flight for the first leg and after that he was fine.

When we arrived into Rapid City, South Dakota we rented a car and had an hour and a half drive ahead of us to Hulett. Tyler loved the sights and the landscape. We got settled into the room and gave Lloyd a call to see if we could come out and shoot the bow and make sure it had not been knocked off during the flight. It was still right on when he shot it and we were ready to hunt!

After hunting for 3 days and passing some good bucks and does and seeing a lot of turkeys and I do mean a lot of turkeys we were down to the last evenings hunt. We were hung on the shady side of an Alfalfa field in a Big Game 2 man ladder stand. We new that the deer would come out there first to feed until the sun set and the temperature dropped.

They seemed to be moving a little earlier that day and we hoped one of the shooters that Lloyd had been seeing would come out and give Tyler a opportunity. We were watching a few small bucks and doe when I seen movement in the timber so I threw up the Nikon binoculars and knew the buck immediately ! It was the buck Lloyd told us about with the warts on him ! A nice mature 10 point buck! I told Tyler to grab his bow and get ready. As he did he ranged the distance with his Nikon range finder and told me 38 yards. As the buck stopped to feed on the Alfalfa and turned broadside I told him to take him when he was ready! When he squeezed off the trigger the buck did the classic kick and I heard the Rage Extreme find it's mark! As the buck ran into the timber we knew he was hit hard!

While we were giving the buck some time, I reloaded the bow for him because he had a doe tag as well. After about 40 minutes a mature doe came in and gave him a shot and the Toxic found it's mark again! This time at 30 yards ! She fell in the field and in 40 minutes we went from being bummed out for passing all the other deer and not seeing a good buck to taking a double! 

After retrieving his doe we started tracking his buck again and after going about 60 yards we decided to back out and go look at the footage and get Lloyd. After that we decided to let him lay overnight. The next morning at daylight we picked up the trail and started tracking the buck. After about another 90 yards after we stopped the night before there he laid ! Tyler's first archery buck!

I cannot thank Jan and Lloyd enough for what they did for us! It was a very kind gesture that they did and it will never be forgotten! Since I lost Evan memories are one of the most important things to me in life and this hunt built more for me ! To be a part of all the first for Tyler was amazing for me and I hope they are memories that he will never forget ! The most important memory for us both is that we knew Evan would have been so proud of Tyler for what he had done and that we both knew he was there with us both every step of the way!