Keaton Stevens: Hulett Hunter

This week’s Challenge of the Hunt Video blog series comes from  Intrepid Outdoors Lead Video Editor Wade McMillin, who shares the story of a very ambitious teenage hunter.

Keaton Stevens practicing before his night in the stand

Keaton Stevens of Hulett, Wyoming has more on his plate than the typical high school senior. While most teenage boys his age only worry about the latest video game or courting girls, Keaton takes on several responsibilities. For starters, Keaton is a determined student with his mind focused on finding a college to study broadcasting. In addition to his studies, Keaton is also the quarterback of the Hulett Red Devils football team, wrestles for the Moorcroft High School team and plays basketball for Hulett, too. And if that wasn’t enough, Keaton is always lending a helping hand to his mother, Julie, or working on his uncle Mike Schmid’s Solitude Ranch. Really, in Keaton’s life, there is never a dull moment despite him living in a town with just 384 people.

There’s no doubt Keaton takes a certain level of pride in all of his responsibilities because he does them well. But perhaps the one extra curricular he is the most proud of himself in is hunting. The emotions this 17-year-old shows when carrying a bow are second to none and the dedication he displays in the deer woods can rival even the most experienced hunter. This is evident in this week’s “Challenge of the Hunt” video blog.

Keaton Stevens is smashing the antlers together trying to make something happen.

In between school, football practices, work and the rare social activity, Keaton managed to find some time for hunting, beginning at the Buckhorn Ridge Ranch near Devils Tower, Wyoming. Owner Lloyd Pruet, who started a Whitetail management program about three years ago, showed Keaton some bucks he wanted taken out of his heard. So Keaton ended up in the same tree stand he hunted at the Buckhorn the previous year and his 2012 season was on. It was a solid first time out as Keaton saw several mature eight-pointers, but none came within shooting distance.

Keaton Stevens at full draw

It was a few days later before Keaton was out for his next hunt. This time he was at the familiar Solitude Ranch, grounds he knows all too well. He and camera man Shawn Bare set up in an Ameristep ground bling, getting some decent deer on film before their afternoon hunt soon turned into night. Keaton deemed most of the deer they encountered too young and had a quick quip for his cameraman.

“Well Shawn scared away all the deer, so now we’re done for the night,” he joked.

Keaton’s third time out was back at the Solitude except he elected to hunt from a tree stand this time out. The area Keaton was in wasn’t hunted a lot by other visitors of the Solitude, but Keaton must’ve had a good feeling about it because it did pay off. After doing a little but of rattling, only does came in the area, but a last-ditch effort appealed to an awesome eight-point Whitetail.

Keaton drew early as the deer came in pretty close to his stand. But as it marched away, Keaton finally made a bit of a call to get the animal to stop in its tracks. And once the mature Whitetail did, Keaton let him have it at about 40 yards. He didn’t have to walk far for the trophy and he was all smiles once he arrived to the downed deer.

Keaton was in awe when he saw how big his buck was.

“I put the smack down on this deer,” he said. “I really have to give thanks to my uncle Mike for letting me come over this weekend. What a deer. Not everybody gets to experience this and this is just amazing.”

It’s true that not a lot of people get to experience what the Solitude has to offer, but those who do relic its sheer beauty. It’s also true that not just anybody gets to hunt the Solitude. In a way, you have to earn it. And yes, Keaton may be Mike’s family, but if they were just two strangers, Mike would have the admiration for Keaton’s spirit and open the doors without a doubt.

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