When Daniel was 18 years old, he started experiencing difficulty breathing. This problem was particularly noticeable when he played basketball and discovered that sprinting up and down the court was difficult. Even walking up the stairs became a challenge for him, and severe night sweats made it difficult for him to sleep. During an EKG, his heart rate was abnormally high, and they transferred him to the local hospital.
“They ran several tests while I was in the intensive care unit for a week,” Daniel stated. My chest had a tumor the size of a chicken breast that they discovered. They found it hard to believe. Between receiving my diagnosis and continuing, so much happened that it seemed to blur.”
After chemotherapy, the tumor shrank, and Daniel was transferred to the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Unit for several months. He underwent treatment for the next four years, staying in and out of the hospital for a considerable amount of time. “I saw the light at the end of the tunnel when I started going in for chemo treatments every other month,” Daniel said. “I was living day by day, and I was starting to appreciate spending more time outside.”
Daniel had never gone hunting, but he had always enjoyed fishing and target practice. That’s why he was excited to learn about his impending deer hunt at White Ghost Ranch. Daniel felt a little anxious on his journey from New York to Texas because he was doing a lot of firsts for himself, including flying for the first time, traveling alone, and being far from his family. But after he arrived in Dallas, he was more at ease. Then, his trepidation disappeared when he met Bob Samson at the airport in San Antonio, and his anticipation skyrocketed.
Daniel and Bob got to the ranch and settled into their rustic accommodations. After meeting with their guide, Cass, they went directly to the shooting range to get the Creedmoor rifle dialed in. After that, they spent several hours fishing and came away with multiple catches, including Daniel, who reeled in a 2.5-pound largemouth bass. They had a delicious dinner at the ranch after returning there.
Early the next day, the ranch owner, Brent Geistweidt, and Daniel, Bob, Cass, and Cass’s wife, Danielle, headed out to their blind and settled in for the hunt. Shortly after, a doe wandered out of the mesquite, feeding. When he had it in range, Daniel shot it, and it ran off to the left before dropping. After a while, another doe appeared, and Brent gave him the go-ahead to shoot. Daniel took the shot, and the doe ran off to the right before it fell. The third doe appeared, and Daniel made another perfect shot, causing it to run straight away from them before it went down.
Daniel exclaimed, “I remember the first time pulling the trigger; it was an adrenaline rush. Then, after the second deer, Bob gave me a nickname for being an accurate shooter. I felt like I was home. They all treated me like family. I felt like I had known them for a long time. Learning to track the deer was a great experience, and Bob and Cass taught me how to field-dress them, too.”
Later that afternoon, they headed to Onion Creek, located on a beautiful property in Texas Hill County. Daniel and Cass entered the first blind at the top of a hill, Bob the second, and Brent the third. As the shadows lengthened, a doe wandered out of the mesquite in front of them, and not long after, an 8-point buck came out into their field of view. Daniel said, “That’s the buck I want!”
Daniel watched the buck approach the doe through the scope after Cass quietly set up the rifle. When the buck was within shooting range, Cass gave him the go-ahead to take it. “The buck jumped up, all four feet went off the ground, and I could see him in the scope,” Daniel explained after making the shot. As I watched, he descended the hill, and we saw his antlers emerge. We assumed he would fall, but he didn’t; instead, he threw up his head again before dropping.”
After the hunt, they had a delicious dinner consisting of a huge steak, potatoes, and a salad. Since it was Danielle’s birthday and Daniel’s was a week later, Pam Geistwidt made a chocolate cake for both of them. They sang each other happy birthdays and shared their cake.
“The best part wasn’t taking the shots or getting the deer; rather, it was spending time with each other in the deer stand, spotting bucks and does. If the last four years of treatment have taught me anything, it’s patience. My patience has increased significantly, and I am beginning to see the positive aspects of all things. Everything comes together when the timing is perfect.”
Thanks to Brent & Pam Geistweidt and White Ghost Ranch, Bob Samson, Jerry St. Pierre, Dziuk’s, and NY Sponsors for providing a once-in-a-lifetime hunt. Congratulations, Daniel, on your unforgettable hunt and a warm welcome aboard the USSA Advisory Council. God bless!
If you are interested in getting involved or know of a deserving child or veteran, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].