Hunt Of A Lifetime is a nonprofit organization with a mission to grant hunting and fishing dreams for children ages 21 and under who have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses. Firefighter and avid hunter Pat Beard shares the life-changing impact of HOAL on kids across the USA. He talks about some of his heartwarming adventures with these kids and opens an opportunity for the rest of us to help. You can be involved in this wonderful project by reaching out to Pat or donating directly to the organization. Learn how in this episode.
Listen to the podcast here:
Amazing Hunt Of A Lifetime AZ with Pat Beard
This is the second edition of Hunt of a Lifetime and Hunt of a Lifetime in the national program. I have Pat Beard on from Springerville, Arizona. Pat is a first responder, a firefighter with the Edgar Fire Department. Pat, welcome.
Let’s start right off and tell people about Hunt of a Lifetime.
Hunt of a Lifetime is a great program for the kids that got problems like life-threatening illnesses. I describe it as we go from A to Z with this program to help these kids. It’s a great program. Ms. Tina Patterson is the one that founded it. She’s supportive in making sure the kid’s dreams come true.
If you go to their website, you will find Tina’s story and why she started after the loss of her son. Pat, why did you get involved in the program?
I took it over from a guy in the valley. I was asked if I would accept it and we thought about it, we prayed about it. I’ve got a good support of my family here. That helps you. I asked my boy. I deal with kids and I love kids. I want to do something for them.
If somebody there in Arizona wants to get ahold of you, how would they do that so they can nominate their son or daughter to Hunt of a Lifetime?
They could call me or they can email me on my email address.
What would that be?Tears flow when you see a kid light up from a successful hunt. Whether they harvest a critter or not, it’s an experience of a lifetime for them. Click To Tweet
Is there a form on the website that they can fill out previous to doing that?
Not that I’m aware of.
What is the home page for Hunt of a Lifetime? Do you have your website?
Our Facebook is Hunt Of A Lifetime Arizona.
They can reach out there. How many kids do you take hunting each fall?
It differs a bit. We work on donated tags. We’ve got some tags, but it’s going to be good for bulls because of the moisture we had. The last couple of years, the first year, we did between thirteen and fifteen kids with help for my partners.
How many people on your crew?
It depends on the day. I got one, John Bennett. He’s only dedicated to this. He just loves to be out in the woods and he knows a lot of secret spots. We’ve been pretty successful with these kids. It’s all up to the kids if they like what we put them onto.
Do you only hunt elk or do you hunt Catalina, Coues deer or mules?
Most of the kids that come from back east, we do ask some local ones. They want bigger bulls, some of them will take the cow tags. We’ve done deer hunting, Catalina, turkey and stuff like that. It’s hard to get a kid out here for a few days.
Typically how long does the hunt last?
Some of them are five to seven days. A later hunt will be close to two weeks.
That’s a real hunting experience. That isn’t just show up and we’re going to spend a weekend chasing from elk. You might see one, you might shoot one, but at the end of the day the odds are against you.
I think even if they don’t tag out, what an experience for the kids coming to the mountains. We’re at 7,000 feet, so we have good elk country here. The deer should be good too.
Are you near the Flagstaff area?
We’re about roughly three hours from Flagstaff.
North, south, east or west?The greatest fee is seeing a child smile after he has tagged an animal. Click To Tweet
You’re off the rim then, down towards Phoenix?
No, that would be the southeast, up towards Show Low. Probably we’re twelve miles from New Mexico state line.
You’re pretty close to the Gila National Forest then. You’re butt right up against it, I think.
We got a little girl come in a couple of weeks to go out on New Mexico side though and it’s an opening. She can have a bull or she can have a cow. She has her choice of weapon. She wants to shoot it with a bow or muzzleloader. She’ll bring her seven millimeter.
Let’s talk about the kids. They all have life-threatening illness, is that correct?
Are most the kids terminal or are they just in remission? How does all that work out?
We’ve had them all. We’ve had a lot that’s been in remission for several years now. We stay in contact with them. We’ve had some that are terminal, but just the experience they share, being there with those kids and the support, it’s awesome.
Why don’t you share a couple of stories about the kids you’ve met over the last few years so people can get a sense of what it means to come out on Hunt of a Lifetime?
We had a little guy from Long Beach, Mississippi come out. He’s paralyzed. He’s in a wheelchair. I didn’t meet him the first time he was out because he couldn’t make contact. He had several shots and couldn’t make contact with the animal. We brought him back the next year. This kid who was gung-ho was trigger happy. We ended up packing him a mile and a half on a handcart and crossing not steep canyon, but we’re pretty rocky out here. We got him set up and there was a bunch of cows, smaller bulls and stuff in there. This kid, he was wanting to take anything that move and it’s like, “You’ve got to hold still because we know there’s a big one in here somewhere.”
I said, “Why don’t I sit with you?” We finally saw the bull move because he was lying under a big shade tree and the kid thought it was a big rock in the tree. He couldn’t tell that was his bull. The bull, probably once he shot it, he probably went five feet of that. I said, “Put another round in. I like to make sure. I don’t like chasing myself.” Especially with these kids, some of this terrain is tough to get them around. He shot it and I said, “Put another one in him,” and he dropped that baby. He had his dad, his mom and his uncle were out with him. It was just a great morning. Once we got the bull down, one of the other guys said, “Let’s pack it back to the truck and drive to the bottom.” I said, “Nope. I’ll pack him.” It was 45 pounds or maybe 50.
He was such a great kid with a good attitude. We packed him down, we got down this little belt trail and we got to the bottom. We’re still a little away from his bull and his mom was behind us. He reaches over and slashed me and he goes, “You should have hand me back to my mom. I feel safer.” I gave him back to his mom. We packed him over there. There’s the head rush and the adrenaline with these kids. Once they are able to make contact with an animal like that, you can’t put a price on it. It’s an awesome picture. A lot of people say, “What do you get paid to do this?” You look at a kid smile on his face after he’s tagged an animal, that’s my pay right there.
The tears and the smiles that flow, they’re priceless. That’s for sure.
That little guy there. He was quite a character. He was exhausted. We got it down. He took about a 45-minute nap while we were waiting for some guys with some low quads to come out and help us get it out. He slept and then the kid, he’s hunted with a guy back east. He’s a big guy. He couldn’t wait to get back to the motel and say, “You’re not the big man no more. I’m the big man. Look what I did.”
He’s still living? Did he pass on?
Pretty quick, he’s going to Wyoming to hunt antelope.
With Hunt of a Lifetime?
Back east, they’ve got several different programs for these kids. I’m not sure. It’s not with Hunt of a Lifetime. This little guy graduated high school and he could tell you everything about animals. He’s the character that day. Good parents, all-around good people that come with their kids.
To support them in that type of endeavor they got to trek around the mountains, it’s not all that easy. They’re supporting her kid and that’s a good thing. Let’s name some of the other guys on your crew that helped you do this out there in Arizona?
Let’s start with the wife. She’s really supportive. We’ve had families come over for Thanksgiving and stuff during that time. I call them family. We have family together and stuff eat. We sit around and talk. John Bennett is an older guy. He’s an older gentleman and a good friend of mine. I’ve known him for a long time. This guy’s got an eye like you wouldn’t believe. He always wants to bet these kids. He’d say, “I bet I could see these animals before you do.” He lives to go out in the woods and the season’s already started and spotted elk and stuff for the kids coming up. My little guy is a hunter. He loves to go with us. He’s got an eye on him. We’ve got some guys over in the Show Low and Taylor area that help out. David Cross, he’s here. He helps out. We’ve got some guys that’ll call us and we’ll come help you pack it out and stuff. Mandy Kitchens, she helps put on the benefits and stuff, the banquets. I’ve got some pretty good help.
You just go to the Facebook page, Hunt of a Lifetime Arizona, and you can get ahold of Pat and the crew. He’ll get you lined out if you’re any place in the country. Do you help them with transportation or the transportation is on them? Do they get to you and then the hunt is on you guys?
The foundation, their capital is back east. It’s a long distance. If they fly into an airport, the foundation has a rental vehicle for them. They’ll go to Phoenix and they can drive up to the mountain here. It’s like a four-hour drive. They have their option depending on how many of the family comes. If it’s just the dad and the daughter, dad or son or something, we’ll go out in the truck. If they want to take their rental vehicle, they’re more than welcome.
They need to get to where you guys are, no matter what chapter they’re working with. From there on you take care of them.
When you think about your hunting experience, let’s talk about your hunting tradition.
I’m not a pro at it, but I love to be out in the woods and see the animals moving around and be able to help these kids. It touches your heart to see their dream come true.
Did your grandfather start you? Did your dad start you or did you start hunting yourself?
My dad was an advocate hunter and he loved to be out there. I followed his footsteps.
I’ve talked to a number of guys with Hunt of a Lifetime with this promotional program we’re doing for them. It brings tears to your eyes to see the kids. It is a hunt of a lifetime. It’s a dream. Kids see the magazines or film and say, “I’d like to do that.” All of a sudden you guys got them on the mountain, got a big bull down or a cow. That’s got to be so rewarding for you.
It is to see the smile on the kid’s face and the generosity out of the family for what we do for them.
It’s got to be an amazing thing. One more time, Hunt of a Lifetime, get ahold of their website or go to Hunt of a Lifetime Arizona Facebook, get ahold of Pat. Raise your hand if you want to get on the list and apply for one of the slots they have in Arizona. Are you the only chapter in Arizona or are there other chapters?
No, I cover the whole state of Arizona. We got the better out in the mountains. There’s good deer hunting and stuff around Tucson down south. There are a lot of kids and this is why I come up here. We’ve got good fishing lakes, we’re not that far from Grand Canyon and there are a lot of artifacts and stuff here that a lot of kids want to learn.
It’s a rich area at the time I spent down there. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s amazing to take the time to talk to somebody like you, that’s given everything they got and then you have full-time jobs that are first responders. When the bell rings, you go whether it’s for a kid or for a family that’s in distress because of a fire. Good on you.
What’s cool with the job is the boss understands what’s going on. We’ve gone once so far, but a kid got one down in the canyon and it was just him and his dad. My partner, he couldn’t walk back in there because he got bad knees and stuff. They came and asked him. We gathered up a couple of fire guys and we’re out there and packed it out for them whatever it takes.
Pat Beard, thank you so much for sharing a few moments. I thank you for what you’re doing and keep it up.
- Hunt of a Lifetime
- Hunt Of A Lifetime Arizona – Facebook page
About Pat Beard
My name is Pat Beard. I have been the Ambassador for Arizona with Hunt of A Lifetime for 4 years. I enjoy working with all the kids and families. It is really a highlight of my life.
I am a full-time firefighter with Eagar Fire Department. I have been with them for over 30 years. It was my lifelong dream to be a firefighter and made it happen.
I am a husband, father and grandfather. I spend a lot time in the woods with my youngest son. I also enjoy watching my kids and grandkids play sports. I do a lot with my small-town community when needed.