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September 2023
Story by Joel Ingram
Hunters: Kevin Winegar
State: Arizona

Meet Kevin (Joey) Winegar. At 16, this young man was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Kevin is a true model of what we want in the sportsman community. He’s a young man full of integrity, hard work, and childlike joy at the adventures. Sundowner Guide Service immediately took Kevin under their wing and have tried to give him as many opportunities as possible in the last year. Between RJ Rush, Tim Downs, Brian Bitter, and myself, we knew we could make things happen. It started with a javelina hunt followed a few months later by a Gould’s turkey hunt. Brian Bitter played matchmaker with this once-in-a-lifetime tag in Southern Arizona. He called me about the opportunity, and minutes later, the tag was on its way to Kevin.

Kevin was in the middle of some aggressive chemotherapy and had a small window to do this hunt. Brian reached out to a couple of contacts, and we had an amazing location to chase Gould’s in Southern Arizona for a couple of days.

Opening morning, we were surrounded by gobbling jakes within a few yards. However, Kevin knew that patience would yield him the most mature tom possible. He had a mature tom cross in front of him quite close, but brush and fence lines prohibited the shot. The rest of the day was spent chasing gobbles and getting a lot of close calls and amazing memories.

That evening, we returned to where we started, but Brian decided the best route was to set up two blinds and wait these Gould’s out. In true Brian Bitter (Turkey Whisperer) fashion, these turkeys walked directly in front of our blind. Kevin had a 20-yard shot and notched his first turkey tag ever with the coveted Gould’s turkey tag. The turkey had a great, long beard and tremendous spurs for a Gould’s. Most importantly, Kevin got to be a kid for a few days in a life that’s trying to make him an adult too early.