The Outdoor Dream Foundation- Making Dreams Come True

It’s always a privilege to experience what we love with those who share the same passion. Every once in awhile it’s a true honor. This past week, SNS had one such honorable adventure.                                                       

This is Emily Ferguson and her Dad, Chris. SNS was introduced to them through the Outdoor Dream Foundation, whose role is to grant outdoor adventures to youth who have been diagnosed with a terminal or life-threatening illnesses. Outfitter, Sy Gilliland, has always wanted to get involved with the Outdoor Dream Foundation’s programs. When the opportunity arose to host Emily, he jumped at it.                                                 

Emily lost her right eye to Retinoblastoma and has battled Ewing’s Sarcoma in her ribs. Don’t think for a moment, however, that has slowed her down! As a high school senior in Memphis, she excels at her studies, is a nationally ranked trap shooter, and like all 18-year-olds, she lives for her friends! This young lady’s fortitude impressed those of us at the SNS camp as well! She was saddled up within a few hours of arriving at camp and rode through some less-than-friendly Wyoming weather, always with a smile on her face.                                  

I asked Emily, ”Why a western elk hunt with SNS?” She modestly replied, “My trap [shooting] coach just brought it up and I do love the outdoors!” So Emily and Chris were welcomed to our premium elk camp in the southern Big Horn Mountains. They stayed the week in warm, private bunk rooms and filled their bellies with Ms. Sylvia’s hardy meals. Outfitter Gilliland and Guide Ryan saddled horses, led the hunting party, and coordinated all those behind the scene details. I was blessed to tag-along with my camera in hand.                                                          

We rode horseback across grassy pastures and around mountains peppered with pine trees. A dusting of snow clung frozen to each blade and branch as we quietly trekked along. Bugling elk could be heard echoing back and forth from ridge to ridge. We all pushed away the chill with overwhelming feelings of optimism. We climbed higher into an aspen filled draw just as the sun broke through the cloud cover and instantly warmed our necks. It was right then that Emily spotted her bull! With Chris and Ryan coaching, they set up shooting sticks and waited for the ideal moment. Emily zero’d in.                                                

One perfect shot led to a celebration of smiles and high fives! Emily’s dream of harvesting a majestic 6 point bull elk had come true! A talkative lunch followed and was enjoyed almost as much as the campfire that was built beside the harvest site. The horses led us back to camp as we lamented such perfection in the day’s events. Gilliland said it best; “It was as if today was scripted.”                                                

What is next for Emily, you may ask. She has aspirations of biomedical engineering in prosthetics and undoubtedly will continue her love for trap shooting and hunting. We wish this very special girl all the best and great health for years to come!  SNS Outfitter & Guides would like to thank both the Fergusons and The Outdoor Dream Foundation for entrusting us with providing this dream hunt. We sincerely hope it is just the beginning.