MOSES LAKE — Cyrus Levine pocketed his bear in record time.
“It was the fastest (bear hunt) they’ve ever done,” he said.
Levine went hunting with the help of Youth Outdoors Unlimited, a Moses Lake-based organization that takes children and teens with physical challenges or life-threatening illnesses on fishing and hunting trips. And YOU secretary Martin Monsey said Cyrus had a bear in 90 minutes.
“A trophy bear. It was really huge,” Levine said.
Levine received his trophy at the annual YOU Moses Lake Banquet on Saturday. Participants receive complimentary taxidermy services so they can turn their hunting or fishing successes into a lifelong memory.
Rebekah Lehto went deer hunting in 2019 near Winthrop and came home with a deer, but it would have been a good trip regardless, she said.
“It’s really fun. Youth Outdoors is the best,” she said.
Hunting and fishing are not guaranteed, but participants and their families get the full hunting-fishing experience. There are campfires and camp food, and sometimes camping. Over the years, YOU has purchased adaptive equipment so that participants can navigate rough terrain.
In addition to the camping experience, YOU attendees receive all the gear they need. The organization’s founder, Cindy Carpenter, said YOU pay for clothing and other gear.
“We pay full retail price for the equipment,” Carpenter said.
But everything is free for children and their families who are also allowed to keep the meat from their excursions.
“It’s definitely a family event,” said Lehto’s mother, Dawn Boster. “It was an amazing gift for her, and it was a gift for the whole family.”
Rebekah remembered a very large male teasing her by staying just out of reach. She was bow hunting and the opportunity arose with two males she named Jack and Fred.
“Fred is the one I got,” she said. “I hit him partially between the shoulders.”
Fred fled, but the guides found him.
Lehto is a spokesperson for YOU and stays involved because she feels YOU is doing a great job for the young people she strives to serve.
YOU organizers and volunteers keep in touch with participants and their families after the trip is over, she said.
“The love you feel from them isn’t just once in a lifetime. It just continues,” she said.
Levine’s bear hunt may have been short, but Monsey said it was very eventful.
Cyrus needed the right gear, and Monsey and his assistant had everything prepped and set up – only to realize they were missing something.
“(Monsey’s YOU travel partner) says, ‘Did you catch the gun?’ And I said, ‘I thought you grabbed the gun.’ And none of us have it,” Monsey said.
Monsey managed to arrest the guide who dropped them off and retrieve the rifle, but the cameras used to record the trip – well, Monsey said they found a way to record it.
The first possible target got a little too close for comfort. Monsey looked up to see a bear peeking through the blind. Unfortunately, the rifle was aimed in the opposite direction.
“The bear looks at us and walks away,” Monsey said.
But another bear arrived about half an hour later.
“All of a sudden, Cyrus’ bear appears,” Monsey said. “Boom – the shot is done, it’s over. It will go down in history as the fastest and shortest bear hunt for young people outdoors. Hour and a half, he has a beautiful bear black.
Carpenter said 10 children went hunting or fishing in 2021.
“This year (2022) we are going to be very busy,” she said.
The organization is supported by donations and the banquet included live and silent auctions. Carpenter said the Moses Lake event raised more than $123,000. Other auctions are scheduled for Western Washington, Wenatchee and Tri-Cities.
People can donate year-round on the YOU website, www.youthoutdoorsu.org.