My Best Hunts Were Never Planned

Brad Gill | January 9, 2024

The 1999 Ossabaw WMA crew (from left) Chris Bailey, GON Editor Brad Gill, former GON Editor Lindsay Thomas Jr. and Dewey Johnson.

Today I hit 50. The half-century mark has caused me to reflect on what I’ve done—and haven’t done—in the way of hunting over the years.

I’ve been to Iowa and killed a nice buck with my bow. I’ve shot an impala in South Africa and doves in Mexico. I’ve hunted all over this great state and have warm memories that go back to when I was a boy and killed my first squirrel on Burnt Mountain in Gilmer County.

It’s in my nature, but there’s still some hunting things I’d like to do. The other day Chuck Hester and I were running the mileage to Saskatchewan as we dreamed of hunting a Northern whitetail. I hear elk meat is wonderful, but I’ve never been out West. I’ve never killed a Georgia black bear or taken a deer behind a pack of dogs. 

Anything wrong with setting hunting goals? Naw, but over the years I’ve found myself being successful when things just sort of play out. In other words, if I find myself in a deer blind by a heater in Saskatchewan, the Lord will just have to clear the way and make that dream trip a reality. And I’m good with that.

When I think back to some of my favorite hunting trips, they were actually trips I never planned.

It was 1999, and GON-TV was rolling. Former GON Editor Lindsay Thomas Jr. was drawn for a December Ossabaw WMA deer and hog hunt. I was assigned to go and film Lindsay’s hunt.

When I walked on the island, it didn’t take me long to meet Dale Thomas from Habersham County. We spent time around the campfire, ate meals together, and I even filmed him and his daddy on a successful hog hunt. A life-long friendship was born, not just with Dale but with a good number of his friends and family.

The Habersham County hunting crew from 1999 (from left): Chris Wilkes, Dale Thomas, Gary Sutton and Jackie Thomas.

In March 2009, Dale and his daughter Maggie were campers at the very first youth hunting weekend I hosted. Dale’s exact words when he left that Turkey Camp were, “We’ve got to do one of these at the house.” We did, and we still partner together to bring kids and parents together for hunting and fishing weekends. At Dale’s 30-30 Ministries’ Camps, I’ve watched kids kill bears, catch trophy trout and roll big turkeys.

I could write books about all the things that’s happened just as a result of my friendship with Dale.

It was through Dale that I met Ben Allen from Tyro, Kansas, which led to a 30-30 Ministries’ Kansas Rabbit Camp. I was guiding a young lady last year and watched five rabbits being run by the same pack of dogs. They came through like a herd of bucks chasing one doe. We ended up killing 40 rabbits that day, the most I’d ever seen in the back of a truck. Best part about that hunt was watching a young man named Boston from Independence, Kansas surrender his life to Jesus.

Like I said, I could write books about all the things that’s happened as a result of my introduction to Dale Thomas. It’s pretty neat to think that it all started when Lindsay was drawn to hunt at Ossabaw and I found myself on a hunting trip, a hunting trip that I never planned.

I wonder what sort of trips I’ll take in the coming years? While it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if it involved a snow suit and a passport, I think I’d be better off just sitting back and seeing what comes my way.

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