16-year-old takes trophy on dream hunt

Published 1:00 pm Thursday, February 3, 2022

A 16-year-old has taken a trophy deer during a Catch-A-Dream hunt at GP Monticello.

Luke Brown passed on the first buck he saw — not an easy thing to do for a 16-year-old on the hunt of a lifetime. But guide Harold Griffith knew there was a trophy out there somewhere. He had spotted a large 10-point on a game camera days before.

So, Brown waited, something he’s done plenty of since being diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in 2020. He’s waited on doctors, waited on test results, waited to feel like a normal teenager again.

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The waiting paid off. Brown’s trophy deer appeared just like Griffith had expected, but at 400 yards was too far away for a shot. So, Brown waited and watched as the buck slowly came closer, chasing does and smaller bucks away as he neared the stand. The 10-point entered and left the food plot several times before finally appearing within range. He made a perfect shot when the deer was about 50 yards away.

Brown’s hunt was made possible thanks to the Mississippi-based Catch-A-Dream Foundation and Georgia-Pacific Monticello. CADF grants once-in-a-lifetime hunting and fishing experiences to children facing life-threatening illnesses. Brown’s hunting experience took place at the GP Monticello mill in rural Lawrence County.

Brown’s 10-point weighed about 180 pounds, one of the largest killed on a Catch-A-Dream Foundation hunt at GP Monticello. The mill has hosted a CADF hunt for 20 years. The hunt was guided by Griffith, a GP employee who for years has made sure the mill’s CADF hunts are successful.

Brown shot the buck on his first hunt of the weekend and later killed a doe before heading back home to Indiana.

“He did a great job,” Griffith said. “We got to watch the buck for about 25 minutes. He put on a good show.”

“Luke will remember this as one of his best memories of his life,” his mother, Danielle Ochoa, said. “He still is talking about this trip with such pride and his smile when he tells the story of his buck will be the highlight of my life as well.”

“Once again, we had an outstanding Catch-A-Dream hunting experience at the GP Monticello mill,” CADF operations manager Brian Chisholm said. “The overwhelming support that comes from the mill staff, year after year, never ceases to amaze me. We are so grateful to Jeff Joyce (mill manager) and all of the GP management for allowing this opportunity for Catch-A-Dream to bring a family in and share a bit of Southern hospitality in such a special place.”

GP Monticello manages a large whitetail deer population on approximately 2,000 acres and has received a Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council, an international organization that works with industrial sites to promote wildlife habitat.