By DAVID RAINER, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
The consensus was that the recent 2020 Buckmasters Life Classic event may not have been the warmest at around 70 degrees for the three-day January deer hunt, but it was probably the wettest.
Persistent rains during the event at one of Alabama’s premier wildlife properties, Sedgefields Plantation near Safford, failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the hunters who deal with a variety of challenges on a daily basis.
It was fortunate for Colton Woolbright of Gordo, Alabama, that the weather was not frigid because of his battle with cystic fibrosis.
Colton’s dad, Rodney Woolbright, said his son was diagnosed with the malady just a few days after his birth.
“We deal with it the best way we can,” Rodney said. “They’re always making improvements with the medicine and treatments, and it’s all in God’s hands.
“He’s been doing real well lately. He’s had different bacteria growing in his lungs that we’ve had some tough battles with. But our pulmonologist and everybody at the hospital come up with the best treatment plans. It’s working right now.”
The elder Woolbright said they have to pick the days when it’s prudent for Colton to go hunting.
“We try not to hunt when the weather is bad,” Rodney said. “We’d rather stay at home for those two hours of hunting than be in the hospital for two weeks. We hunt when we get the opportunity and the weather cooperates when it’s not rainy and cold.
“We had to do the best we could during this hunt. We’ve had a lot of rain, but it’s been warm, and we made it work.”
Colton, 9, braved the intermittent downpours to bag a beautiful 10-point buck on the second day of the hunt.
“My guide spotted the buck behind us,” Colton said. “It came through some sedge. I tried to get him in my scope, but he kept on moving, so I put my scope to where he was moving to and shot him in the shoulder.
“He ran about 50 yards and he dropped. That was pretty cool.”
Rodney said a few deer had been spotted that morning but nothing his son wanted to shoot with his rifle loaded with a .300 Blackout cartridge.
“Then this deer came in on the back side of the blind,” Rodney said. “Our guide was looking out the back of the blind and saw the deer coming around. We got the gun out and got ready. Colton’s heart started pounding. We had to sit there and wait until the deer made its way around the blind. He finally showed up about 50 yards in front of the blind. Colton put the shot on him. Like Colton said, about 50 yards later, the buck just fell over.”
“We celebrated with a lot of high-fives,” Colton added.
One of the hunters from Alabama was able to take the first deer, a nice 8-point, of his hunting career. Copeland Spires of Prattville, Alabama, was on just his second deer hunt. His older brother, Taylor, got to witness the hunt.
“We had seen two deer before the buck came in at 4:30,” Spires said. “I got real excited and shot him. He was about 100 yards and made a good shot. The deer ran about 80 yards, so we had to go look for him. When we found him, we celebrated and took a lot of pictures.”
Spires is dealing with bronchiolitis obliterans, which has significantly limited his daily activities.
“He’s basically breathing off one lobe of one lung,” said his father Dan Spires. “It really limits what he does without his ventilator machine.”
The elder Spires said the Life Classic was a special time for Copeland, and he was happy that Taylor was there during the eventful hunt.
“For him to kill his first deer with his older brother – they have a special bond that I cannot explain,” Dan said. “It couldn’t have happened any better than to have his brother with him. It’s been a very blessed time.”