YOU banquet raises money for youth hunting, fishing trips


MOSES LAKE — Cyrus Levine bagged his bear in record time.

“It was the fastest (bear hunt) that they said they’ve done yet,” he said.

Levine went hunting with the help of Youth Outdoors Unlimited, a Moses Lake-based organization that takes children and teens with physical challenges or life-threatening illnesses on fishing and hunting trips. And YOU secretary Martin Monsey said Cyrus got a bear within 90 minutes.

“A trophy bear. It was really huge,” Levine said.

Levine was presented with his trophy during the annual YOU Moses Lake banquet Saturday. Participants receive donated taxidermy services so they can turn their hunting or fishing successes into a permanent remembrance.

Rebekah Lehto went deer hunting in 2019 near Winthrop and came home with a deer, but it would’ve been a good trip regardless, she said.

“It’s really fun. Youth Outdoors is the best,” she said.

Hunting and fishing come with no guarantees, but the participants and their families get the full hunting-fishing experience. There are campfires and camp food, and sometimes camping. Over the years YOU has purchased adaptive equipment so participants can go into rough terrain.

Along with the camping experience, YOU participants are provided all the gear they need. Organization founder Cindy Carpenter said YOU pays for the clothing and other gear.

“We pay full retail for outfitting,” Carpenter said.

But all of it is free to the children and their families who are also allowed to keep the meat from their excursions.

“It’s definitely a family event,” said Lehto’s mom Dawn Boster. “It was an amazing gift to her, and it was a gift for the whole family.”

Rebekah remembered a very large buck that teased her by staying just out of range. She was bow hunting, and opportunity presented itself with two bucks she named Jack and Fred.

“Fred is the one I got,” she said. “I hit him partially between the shoulders.”

Fred bolted, but the guides found him.

Lehto is a YOU spokesperson and stays involved because she feels that YOU does a great job for the youth it works to serve.

The YOU organizers and volunteers stay in touch with the participants and their families after the trip is over, she said.

“The love you feel from them isn’t just once in a lifetime. It keeps going,” she said.

Levine’s bear hunt may have been short, but Monsey said it was plenty eventful.

Cyrus needed some adaptive equipment, and Monsey and his assistant had that all ready and set it up – only to realize they were missing something.

“(Monsey’s YOU partner on the trip) goes, ‘Did you grab the gun?’ And I said, ‘I thought you grabbed the gun.’ And neither one of us have it,” Monsey said.

Monsey managed to stop the guide that had dropped them off and retrieved the rifle, but the cameras used to record the trip – well, Monsey said they found a way to record it.

The first possible target got a little too close for comfort. Monsey looked up to see a bear peeking in the blind. Unfortunately, the rifle was aimed at the opposite direction.

“The bear just kind of looks at us and wanders off,” Monsey said.

But another bear came along about a half-hour later.

“All of a sudden, Cyrus’ bear shows up,” Monsey said. “Boom – shot’s done, it’s over with. It will go down in history as the quickest, shortest Youth Outdoors bear hunt. An hour and a half, he’s got a beautiful black bear.”

Carpenter said 10 kids went on hunting or fishing trips in 2021.

“This year (2022) we’re going to be super-busy,” she said.

The organization is supported by donations, and the banquet included live and silent auctions. Carpenter said the Moses Lake event raised more than $123,000. Other auctions are planned for western Washington, Wenatchee and Tri-Cities.

People can donate year-round at the YOU website, www.youthoutdoorsu.org.

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