"Hunt of a Lifetime"
W/ Steven Mitchell

About a month ago I was on Arizona Hunter.com and posted an add for a lion hunt. Rules of the forum is to be able to post an add you had to donate in some way to a youth hunt. Well I got hooked up with Stephanie Rainey about a "Hunt of a Lifetime" hunt. She said they had a kid out of Alabama that was signed up for a lion hunt. Stephanie then got it set up to have him fly out with his dad to hunt.

We didn't really have a date of when yet, so I called a few people and got them interested in maybe helping out when the time came. A few weeks had gone by and I haven't really heard anything back. Stephanie sent me a few emails and called saying maybe a date but still no definite word yet. Saturday, February 4th came and Stepanie calls and notifies me that Steven will be out on Wednesday February 8th. With not a whole alot of time to plan I called some hound guys, and girls, to see how available they were. Brandon Hancock from Happy Jack, AZ and Amber Marshall from Jakes Corner, AZ jumped on board.

After scrambling to get dogs, equipment, food and supplies by Wednesday, I was ready to go. I headed down to 23 south by Tonto Basin Tuesday night to start scouting for tracks. Brandon was out Tuesday scouting as well. The kids flight didn't arrive til late that Wednesday morning so he wouldn't be settled and ready to hunt til Thursday. So Wednesday we had time to scout as well.

Meeting at Jakes Corner, AZ early Thursday morning we set out to find some tracks and hopefully run the dogs to a tree. With two trucks full of dogs and a Nissan Pathfinder rental, we were off. We ran alot of roads and put the rental car to the test. We had only found one track, a small female from the night before. We decided not to run it due to size and country it was in. Getting a little warm we decided to call it a day.

Friday we meet as we did the day before, ready to start trailing a lion. This time we have another hunter with us, Rodney Jones from Globe, AZ. Now with three trucks full of dogs and the trusty rental we were off again. Running roads looking for tracks we tried a few new areas. This time we dropped a few dogs and made a nice circle by the Blue Bird Mines. Steven and his dad being from Alabama have never really seen country like the Arizona Desert. Today they definitley had the chance to see it up close, close enough to have to pick some cactus out thier trousers. With no luck and it being a little warmer then the day before we moved on. About 09:30am stephanie asks if we were calling it a day due to how warm it was. I told her that we had a few more spots to check. Coming to a wash Amber found some tracks. We stopped there to find out which way the tracks were heading and to maybe have some lunch. Brandon kinda determined a direction, so he, Amber and Rodney grabbed a few dogs and went to see if the dogs could pick up a track. Grabbing a bite to eat i let a couple more dogs out and told steven that we were gonna head up the hill. Stephanie let me know that the other guys were headed down, so Steven and I decided to wait to see if they had a game plan. After a few minutes we heard the dogs starting to open up a bit and before you knew what was going on Amber come running over a hil yelling to bring a rifle. Scrambling like fleas on a hound we ran up the hill. Within two hundred yards of where we first found track and were having lunch, the dogs had that lion treed. Steven got to the tree and took his lion hopefully making this truly a "Hunt of a Lifetime" for him!

There isn't nothing better then seeing a survivor. This kid has been through almost four years of hard Kemo. not to mention the mental stress of being a seventeen year old with Lukemia. I spent two full days with the kid and sure enjoyed his company. Spending time with someone that has endured so much at a young age really opens the eyes to what you have, or I guess you can say what you never had to go through! Good luck with the rest of your life Steven, you deserve the best!