Finding A Way To Hunt

Our mission is to provide you with everything you need to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle and we feel everyone deserves the opportunity to take part in our natural heritage. The following story comes from our friends at Big Rock Sports and it illustrates how with the right equipment, the right situation and, most of all, the help of friends, family and community, even the greatest challenges can be overcome.

“Deer, deer, deer!”

Peyton Kelly's shooting rig was a string attached to the trigger that he fired by pulling with his teeth.

The eight-pointer slipped quietly into the opening on its way to dinner. When 12-year-old Peyton Kelly saw the large buck, he erupted with excitement. Considering the size of the deer and the fact that this was only Peyton’s second day of hunting ever, his reaction was understandable. Deer hunters with decades of experience will miss an easy shot or forget to even pull the trigger because of “buck fever.”

Pete Rae was sitting in the blind next to Peyton, texting Peyton’s mom that the afternoon hunt appeared to be a bust. When Peyton exclaimed, “Deer, deer, deer!”, Rae looked up to see the large buck moving toward the food plot and quickly reminded the boy to remain quiet. Fortunately, the deer didn’t notice the commotion and kept his focus on the oats that awaited him.

The two hunters then followed a procedure they had developed the previous day. Rae helped zero in the Remington .308 and then placed a small, plastic bead in Peyton’s mouth. The bead was attached to a length of string that was tied to the rifle’s trigger. After a few tense moments, the buck finally paused and turned broadside. Using only his teeth, Peyton pulled the trigger.

A Team Effort

In many ways, Peyton Kelly is your typical energetic and busy 12-year-old. The seventh grader and member of the Future Business Leaders of America is consistently recognized on his school’s honor roll.

Outside of school, Peyton has always enjoyed the outdoors, but taking part in many of his favorite activities requires extra effort because Peyton has cerebral palsy. In situations where people use their hands and arms, Peyton must rely on his feet. However, that has never stopped him from trying sports or outdoor pursuits.

“He’s the last of four kids, so we’ve always gotten out and practiced what the others were doing," explains Peyton’s mom Jackie Wilcox, Assistant Brand Manager at Big Rock Sports. " He doesn’t know he can’t. He told me he was going to join the wrestling team and he wanted to run track in his walker.”

When Peyton and his mom lived in Kentucky, he often rode horses. After moving to the Newport, North Carolina area, Peyton traded in his riding boots for swim trunks, goggles and a snorkel that he uses to explore the local shallows. He also fishes with his family and friends.

Using a rod and specially adapted Elec-Tra-Mate reel that Carl Huffman, the company’s president, customized for him, Peyton caught a large bigeye toro while deep-dropping in 550 feet of water off of the Big Rock. A picture of Peyton with the toro and several snowy grouper that he caught on the same trip was featured in the November 11, 2010 Fisherman’s Post.

“We don’t think there is anything he can’t do,” says Wilcox. “We’ll figure out a way for him to do it.”

The deer hunt required a team effort with help from Rae’s friend Lee McLamb. When he found out that Peyton was interested in deer hunting, McLamb invited the boy to hunt on his farm in Smithfield.

After securing a spot to hunt, the next step was to create a blind that would accommodate a wheelchair. McLamb offered his assistance again, supplying a large plastic cistern and a platform. Rae transformed the container into a deer stand by turning it upside down and cutting out a door and three shooting windows. He bolted the cistern to the platform and created a ramp so Peyton could drive his wheelchair into the stand. Rae also built a shooting table to steady the rifle.

On the morning of the first hunt, a button buck appeared at the food plot. Peyton turned down the shot because he wanted to wait for a bigger deer. Later that day, a good-sized doe ambled up to feed. Peyton decided to take her, but his shot missed.

“When he pulled the trigger with the string he yanked it kind of hard and he shot over the deer,” says Rae. “but he was very excited. His spirits weren’t down. He wasn’t upset that he had missed the deer. He was just excited and ready to see another.”

The two hunted from the stand the following morning, but didn’t see any deer. By 5:00 that afternoon, Rae assumed the hunt would be unsuccessful and contacted Peyton’s mom to let her know.

Found His Mark

Peyton Kelly's first whitetail deer.The crack of the rifle filled the still air and Peyton’s bullet found its mark. The eight-pointer ran a short distance into a swamp, where Rae found him soon after. The buck weighed in at about 130 pounds and sported a 13-inch spread.

“I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve been to Africa and hunted over there. I’ve done a lot of deer hunting and this, by far, was the most special animal I’ve ever been a part of taking,” says Rae.

And according to his mother Jackie, young Peyton is now hooked on deer hunting.

“He wants to do everything that everybody else does,” says Wilcox. “That is what was so cool about this hunt. Peyton got to do what every other kid his age would love to be able to do. Somebody figured out a way for it to happen.”