Catching a dream, the hunt of a lifetime

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Patricia Noelke, 15, of New Haven has loved to hunt and fish her entire life.  Just like many girls her age from our rural area, Patricia has actively participated in these sports since she was seven years old.  However, unlike her peers, she has had to cope with congenital disorders, Spina Bifida and Hydrocepalus, her entire life and has no movement in her lower extremities. 

Recently, Patricia and her family were chosen to participate in “Catch-A-Dream”, a foundation that provides guided hunts and fishing experiences for children with health issues.

Their journey began on Wed., Sept. 26, travelling to the Little Flat Creek Ranch in Purdy, Mo.  Upon their arrival, the family was greeted by numerous guides from the Ranch as well as three men from Catch-A-Dream.  They also met the two other families that would be hunting, fishing, and relaxing with them for the weekend.  The children, Patricia, Madison, and Jordan, were each given a set of new camouflage apparel with their names embroidered on them from the foundation.

After meeting with the guides, ranchers, and other families, Patricia and her new friends took a tour of the ranch and sited in their guns.  A lunch was prepared for them and after eating they loaded up and went to their stands for the hunt.

On Thurs., they went fishing at the beautiful lake.  Fri. they returned to the lake for a full morning of fishing, during which they caught large and small mouth bass.  In the afternoon, Patricia was fortunate enough to hunt with Mr. Bill, the owner of the Little Flat Creek Ranch.  It was then that she harvested a stunning 8-point buck. 

Their final day at the ranch was Sat., Sept. 29.  An awards ceremony was held at the ranch and each child was given a plaque, an 8” x 10” professional photo of the child with their deer, a zip drive with 500 photos on it, and a camouflage bible.   The harvested deer were taken to a local taxidermist immediately following the hunt in order for the children to have their mounts back by Christmas.

Prior to Patricia’s arrival, 15 doe were harvested at the Little Flat Creek Ranch.  The meat was processed into summer sausage, bratwurst, and Patricia’s favorite – snack sticks.  This is done so that the families can easily take venison home with them.

Patricia was chosen to participate in the hunt following her admission to St. Louis’ Children’s Hospital this spring for a shunt malfunction.  Due to the failure of the shunt, she had to undergo an additional brain surgery.  Each year, the Little Flat Creek Ranch provides four hunts for the Catch-A-Dream Foundation; each hunt has three children participants.  Patricia’s deer was the 112th deer that was harvested at the ranch with the organization.  The family describes their experience as the trip of a lifetime.