For two successful hunts, it takes more than luck
In an effort to bolster the recruitment and retention of young sportsmen in Arizona, the Arizona Game and Fish Department offers a variety of junior's-only deer and javelina hunts around the state during the spring and fall hunting seasons.
It's fair to say that Arizona is very youth-friendly, given the opportunities offered for deer, javelina, antlerless elk and turkey.
While Arizona does this to encourage the youth of Arizona to hunt, they do not limit the applicants to just Arizona residents.
Arizona allows non-residents who are in compliance with Arizona rules and regulations to also apply for big game tags, although they - like non-resident adults - are limited to no more than 10 percent of the tags.
So each year, a limited number of non-resident youth hunters draw deer/javelina tags for hunts in northwestern Arizona.
Some of the kids seem to be luckier than others. Take 16-year-old Allison Kilroy of Maryland, for example. She applies for junior's tags every fall.
When she drew her first Arizona big game tag (a fall junior's-only javelina tag in Unit 18B), she hunted with then-Arizona Wildlife Outfitters guide Mike Cobb.
On opening day, under the auspices of Cobb and her father, Ron, Allison bagged a big pig. She got lucky and drew both a pig and deer tag a couple of years later again in Unit 18B, and again bagged herself a big javelina. She chased around a few bucks, but was never able to close the deal.
This year, the lucky young lady drew both a deer and a javelina tag once more in Unit 18B. The Game and Fish Department offered 76 tags for deer and 75 tags for javelina, so Allison beat some great odds in drawing both.
Her father once again enlisted the aid of AWO to assist, and local guide Tad Levandowski was assigned to give them a hand.
Tad has lived in Kingman for a long time and is well-known in the outdoor community as a hardcore hunter who enjoys helping youth on their hunting adventures.
Allison flew to Las Vegas, where her father lives, and their first day of hunting was Thanksgiving Day, even though the season had opened a week earlier. It didn't take long for Levandowski to locate a buck, and he knew it was a good one.
They watched the buck until he finally bedded down in some thick turbinella oak. The stalk was perfect and the hunter and guide got to within 80 yards.
When the buck stood up to stretch, Levandowski asked the young hunter if she had the buck in her sights.
When she said she did, Levandowski told her to take the shot - and at the report of her .243 rifle, the buck literally dropped in his tracks!
It wasn't until they walked up to the fallen buck that Levandowski realized just how big this buck was.
"I have never seen a buck like that out there in 18B," Levandowski said.
The buck's antlers were about 25 inches wide, and there were points all over the rack. He was determined to be an 8 X 7, with an unofficial gross score of just over 200 inches.
This was a buck that any deer hunter, much less a 16-year-old young lady who has never taken a deer before, would be proud to take.
Levandowski said the buck had a huge body, and he estimated that it probably weighed well over 200 pounds, live weight.
After this trophy was processed, the young lady still had a couple of days to pursue javelina. On the last morning of her hunt, Levandowski got her to within 50 yards of a herd and she took her third javelina with one well-placed shot.
It is worth noting that this hunt is not by design a "trophy" hunt. It isn't at time when the bucks are in the rut. This buck was all by himself.
This hunt is at a time when the kids are out of school for the Thanksgiving holiday, and it's is all about the opportunity to spend time in the field with friends and family.
Levandowski will tell you that finding that buck was just luck, but one should never forget that he has hunted in this unit many, many times and he has a keen instinct for where to look.
I have always said that the definition of luck is, "When prior proper preparation meets opportunity."