Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Ethan Brown had been in the deer stand for 90 minutes with his guide and hunting partner. Two previous hunts had not fulfilled the dream of harvesting his first buck.
Patience and persistence have produced more success in the field than any other tactic. According to the Lowcountry Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) president Freddy St. Laurent, Ethan Brown possessed such qualities.
Ethan grew up in the Upstate. Like most young boys, sports occupied his time. His uncle was a hunter, and Ethan enjoyed looking at his photos and trophy mounts.
Life took a sharp bend in the road at age 16 for Ethan. Diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2), Ethan would not be able to pursue his interest in hunting until his early 20s. His life-threatening condition produced tumors in and on his body.
The tumors took their toll on his young frame, but not his spirit, despite the fact that he was confined to a wheel chair. Ethan endured three surgeries in 2007. Fighting back, Ethan finished his high school years back on the football team, leaving the wheelchair behind.
Several years passed, and Ethan, and his family dealt with the health issues day-by-day. Sam, a special friend of Ethan’s, kept encouraging him to submit an application to the Anderson-based Outdoor Dream Foundation (ODF). Ethan finally agreed, and within two weeks of submission, his application was accepted.
The ODF sent Ethan on an all-expense paid trip with his parents to Utah to hunt Elk. Provided with all necessary hunting gear, including a new rifle, Ethan, his family, and South Carolina Wildlife Officer DJ Riley, struck out for Utah, and came home with a 700 lb, 6x6 Elk. (The SCDNR produced an eight minute video that is currently on YouTube.) The ODF continued contacting Ethan after his return for other hunting opportunities. Deer hunting on Hope Plantation was next on Ethan’s list.
The hunt on Hope Plantation did not produce a harvested animal, but it did grab the attention of QDMA volunteers. Ethan’s great attitude and eagerness encouraged volunteers to contact Freddy St. Laurent to help this young hunter fullfill his dream.
St. Laurent arranged another hunt on a property in Williamsburg County. Ethan had a missed opportunity on a buck on that hunt, but did kill a doe that evening. Ethan was excited about his doe, but St. Laurent was not satisfied. He arranged another hunt on the same property the week after Christmas to help Ethan harvest his buck.
Sitting next to his friend, Wes, Ethan sat patiently for more than 90 minutes in that two-man stand. One can only imagine what was going through his mind: Second-guessing decisions, analyzing every sound, and movement, hoping, and “willing” for “big boy” to appear. Eighty yards out, they spotted movement.
Ethan eyed his target and steadied his new rifle. Safety off, Ethan squeezed the trigger and the shot rang out. There would be no blood trail to patiently follow. Ethan put his round just above the shoulder, dropping the eight-point buck dead in its tracks. Patience, persistence and belief had paid-off.
The ODF, and QDMA has put Ethan on approximatley seven hunts in the last year. Volunteer support is critical.