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Outdoor Dream Foundation visits White Hall Plantation

2017 ODF Lowcountry Youth Hunters. Photo by Jeff Dennis

Deer hunting season in the Lowcountry is hitting full stride heading into the October rut, despite a fresh mosquito hatch compliments of Hurricane Irma’s ample rainfall totals. A very special youth-oriented deer hunt came to the White Hall section of Colleton County on Sept. 22 – 23, involving a philanthropic organization from the Upstate. The Outdoor Dream Foundation sponsored 8 youth hunters suffering from illness, and they harvested three deer and two hogs, invoking the Outdoor Dream Bill signed by Governor Henry McMaster.

A youth-oriented deer hunt takes an army of volunteers behind the scenes, and while Colleton County residents and businesses made up the vanguard of this armada of helpers, there was statewide support too. A banner for the 2017 Lowcountry Dreams Youth Hunt listed over 80 sponsors that came together in an effort to provide a quality hunt experience for the 8 youth hunters and their family members.

Did you know that the Outdoor Dream Foundation (ODF) was founded in Anderson, South Carolina back in 2005? Over 12 years they have granted the outdoor dreams of over 400 kids with terminal or life threatening illnesses. ODF board member Skip Still came down from Pendleton, S.C. to oversee the hunt. “ODF is 100-percent volunteer-based and our hunts have taken place in 30-states so far, and this organization is growing,” Still said. “This deer hunt is just one of many ODF deer hunts that will happen all around the state in 2017.”

“Our outreach efforts include social media such as Facebook and we produce the Outdoor Dream TV show that airs on the Pursuit Channel,” said Still. “We are filming here at White Hall Plantation during the youth hunt, and we appreciate that the hunt plans here in the Lowcountry were ready to execute when we arrived. We want to recognize the support we received from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, for putting up our hunters overnight at the Donnelly WMA, giving them another chance to view the wonders of the ACE Basin.”

One hunter that made the most of his opportunity to hunt a prime property like White Hall Plantation is 11-year old Lee McClain from Anderson. During his Friday evening hunt, Lee saw three deer and was able to harvest a fine 11-point buck using a .308-Remington rifle. “This is a wonderful organization. They give children a sense of normalcy they don’t have in everyday life,” said proud father Chris McClain. Not every hunter brought down an animal, because some shot and missed, but that is all part of hunting.

SCDNR’s top brass attended the hunt in White Hall, including Director Alvin Taylor and Law Enforcement’s Chisolm Frampton. Taylor was present in the Governor’s office back on May 3, 2017 when Henry McMaster signed a bill into law that allows SCDNR to issue hunting and fishing licenses with out fees to anyone under the age of 21 who has been diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illness. The implementation of these gratis hunt licenses buoyed the high spirits of everyone involved at the White Hall dream hunt.

This is the second year that White Hall Plantation has hosted this hunt, thanks to the support of owner Richard Chilton. Readers of the Colletonian may recall that longtime manager Ray Jacobs was recognized in 2017 as Conservationist of the year by the Colleton Soil and Water District. Tommy Crosby of Little Swamp is the assistant manager at White Hall Plantation, and he and wife

Tammy served as hunt organizers. “We can’t put this kind of hunt together without local help and donations, and they help to make this event a great success.”

“We want to partner with ODF to help others, and we plan to continue this event next year, so that these youth can enjoy a high chance for hunting success,” said Crosby. “Chip Sharpe works here to trap nuisance alligators and he volunteers to cook all the meals for the entire hunt party and everyone else attending, which is just one example how people with big-hearts step up from their everyday lives to provide something special here for these kids.”

Before departing on Saturday afternoon, the 8 youth hunters were given gifts like binoculars, camo clothing, and paper shooting targets. They also left with their hunting dreams fulfilled, after experiencing the camaraderie that comes from hunting big game among their peers. The images from the hunt are posted on the ODF FaceBook page and one can only imagine how these youth can utilize that social exposure to bolster the confidence they exhibit in everyday life back home.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (360 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com