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  • Writer's pictureJerald Kopp

Walking Tall in Texas

Imposing. Synonyms include impressive, impactful and awe-inspiring. At around 4' 2", Kameron Hagler of Lake City, Florida hardly towers over you. That is, until you spend any time around him and get to know him. At age 2, Kameron was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Additionally, he deals with stunted growth resulting from steroid treatments. A young man of faith, Kameron is a great conversation. He is active in his community and is passionate about hunting and fishing as well as caring for and showing livestock. He also has a great love and knowledge about trucks, ATVs and tractors and lights up when talking about them. Perhaps most impressive, he freely talks about life with his condition, including the surgeries he’s had along the way.

Kameron enjoyed hunting around his Florida home, but dreamed of a hunting trip to another state. With a hunting application to the Buckmasters American Deer Foundation (BADF) submitted, Kameron anxiously waited for months. Then he finally got the call. He had been invited to Texas for a whitetail hunt. Having seen his share of hunting footage from Texas on hunting shows, he was elated. After all, there is quite a bit of mystique about deer hunting in Texas.

In conjunction with Buckmasters, the Texas-based organization, the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON), had arranged a hunt for him in the Lone Star State. Kameron was ready. In November 2017, he and his mother Kelly made the trek to North Central Texas for a deer hunt with JI Outdoors at the Flying L Ranch. Owners Jodie and Justin Ingalls not only provided a great hunting experience, but one filled with great food, ATV rides and camaraderie. This was Texas hunting paradise.

Though, the time was right for the rut in this area, there weren’t many sightings of mature bucks for the first couple of hunts. However, there was no shortage of deer sightings and each hunt was full of anticipation – and guide Justin Ingalls knew it was just a matter of time.

In the meantime, Kameron spent much time practicing shooting – particularly seeking a comfortable shooting position to be employed in the stand. Through a lot of trial and error (and patience on Kameron’s part), an effective standing position was discovered. His aim was steady and true. It was on.

On the last morning, it didn’t take long to see that big things were to come. With ears pinned back, mature bucks started to come out of the woodwork from several directions. For Kameron in particular, it was a feast for the eyes as several large bucks cruised in ready to prove their dominance. “I’ve never seen this many deer at once, let alone bucks!”, Kameron said. Eventually, one old buck appeared and Justin excitedly whispered, “he’s the one”. A few tense minutes ensued as the buck refused to provide a good shot. Despite all the excitement and flurry of antlers that morning, Kameron stayed calm and ready – and it was a good thing, because the buck soon disappeared out of sight. When he luckily reappeared a few minutes later, Kameron controlled his buck fever enough to steady himself and drop the deer in his tracks. Elation followed, and the rest is history.

Kameron had topped off a great three days of hunting in the Texas deer woods. As we made our way to the airport later that day, he gratefully and colorfully recounted the morning hunt and weekend in general. Once again, it was obvious that Kameron really is an imposing figure and we’re so glad he got his Texas buck – thanks to JI Outdoors and the perseverance of this impressive young man. Walking tall indeed.

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The Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) is a certified 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that proudly serves disabled and terminally-ill children and youth through hunting and the outdoors.

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