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Young buck gets his shot

| Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009

Although Hunter Lynch won't be able to obtain a license to hunt for another five years, last week he lived up to his name and bagged his first deer.

Hunter, 7, is a second-grader at Shannock Valley Elementary School. He used a Rossi Youth Model, .243 caliber rifle, a present from his grandparents, Dan and Anita Lynch of Templeton, to become possibly the youngest hunter in the state to harvest a deer.

Hunter's great adventure took place at the Shilo Ranch, a fair-chase hunting preserve in Fenelton. Hunter took a 125-pound doe, accompanied by his father, Charles T. Lynch, grandfather, Dan, and Shiloh Ranch guide Bill Kovel.

In the world of hunting, it's always a great story when a young person bags their first deer, but the greater story is how Hunter came to be the recipient of a Shilo Ranch hunt in the first place.

In 2007, a hunt was won by Dave "Wally" Schrecengost of Sarver at a gun drawing held in Saxonburg. However, Schrecengost died before he could claim his prize. Later in 2008, his brother, Ray Schrecengost of Tarentum, contacted Shilo Ranch owner Roy Allen to inform him that his brother would not be able to claim the hunt. Allen said he would still honor the hunt and that Ray Schrecengost could take his brother's place.

However, Schrecengost decided to give the hunt to a young person to give them a chance to get a first deer. After a conversation with Daniel Lynch at a local gun drawing, he gave the hunt to Lynch's grandson, and arrangements were made with Roy Allen for Hunter to come out to the 108-acre preserve.

"I have no sons or nephews, so Dan and I were talking at a gun drawing and I decided that his grandson would love the opportunity to get his first deer," Schrecengost said.

Several weeks prior to the hunt, Hunter's grandfather and father made sure that he would be able to make a good shot by providing plenty of opportunities for target practice. Dan Lynch set up one-gallon plastic jugs filled with water. When hit with a bullet, the jugs explode in a dynamic spray, leaving no doubt that the shot was on target. Hunter learned to not only handle his rifle safely, but to shoot it accurately.

At Shilo Ranch, the three generations of hunters were met by ranch manager Ed Augustine and taken on an ATV tour of the ranch. Hunter and his father later took up a stand on the ground in what seemed like a good position. Several deer passed by during the first hour, but none offered a clear shot. Dan Lynch stationed himself a short distance away, armed with a video camera.

Finally, a lone deer was visible in some thick cover but offered only a head shot at about 50 yards. After a quick whispered consultation with his father, Hunter decided to take the shot. To his disappointment, it was a clear miss.

However, not all was lost. The deer was not badly spooked by the gunfire. It ran a short distance through thick cover and made a semi circle. When the doe reappeared, it was about 75 yards away and in a small clearing, offering a near-perfect side shot. Hunter had reloaded his single-shot rifle, and when the deer came into view again his shot connected.

Later that day, Dan and Anita Lynch were busy making cuts of venison and processing most of the meat into jerky. Hunter, his father and grandparents decided to give half of the processed meat to Ray Schrecengost. Hunter will have a deer hide, dozens of photos and the memory of a lifetime as well. He'll have to wait five long years until he can hunt again, but when he does hit the woods, he'll go in as an experienced hunter.

Information about Shilo Ranch can be viewed at: www.shiloranch.com.

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