Sunday, January 25, 2004
Alva and Deborah Stump believe in helping people in need.
Their greatest lesson in the power of goodness was also a painful one.
The couple's house in Franklin County burned to the ground in 1991. Friends and co-workers rallied to their aid and, barely two weeks later, the Stumps were in a new home in Callaway, a home stocked with many of life's necessities.
"You might think people would just gather up their old junk and give it to us," Deborah Stump said. "Nope. It was all new."
So a year ago when Alva Stump's supervisor at Fleetwood Homes asked if he'd like to buy a raffle ticket to benefit Hunters for the Hungry, Stump said sure. The ticket was $30, not a small amount of money for a working man such as Stump, a career welder.
Stump forked over the cash not only because he thought he had a shot at the top prize, a muzzleloader deer hunt at a Georgia plantation with Realtree Outdoors. He wanted to do his part to help Virginia's needy.
You know who won the prize, of course.
More than a month after returning from the trip, the Stumps are still giddy.
"They called it the trip of a lifetime and that's what it was," Alva Stump said while wearing a "Realtree Road Trips" TV show shirt and an autographed Team Realtree hat.
"From the moment we got there, they acted like they knew us all our life," added Stump, who met Realtree pro staffer Michael Waddell, who was hunting in the area.
Deborah Stump didn't hunt, but she had a blast fishing in the bass-filled ponds at Realtree founder Bill Jordan's nearby lodge, where the couple stayed.
"I didn't want to come home," said Deborah, adding that the trip provided welcome relief from the debilitating multiple sclerosis, chronic pain and arthritis from which she suffers.
The Stumps are lifelong outdoors enthusiasts who've caught some big fish and killed some big deer. Still, they were blown away by what they found at the 5,000-acre plantation.
The land is owned by Jordan, comedian and avid hunter Jeff Foxworthy, and an executive with Aflac Insurance. It is hunted only by the owners' friends and a few of their business associates.
"They were very appreciative," said Mark Womack, a Team Realtree cameraman who spent three days shadowing Alva Stump. "They were like kids in a candy store."
For Alva Stump, the most amazing aspect was the incredible number of deer.
"I haven't seen that many deer in the last 10 years of hunting in Virginia," he said.
The action started immediately.
Ten minutes into his first hunt, Stump saw a beautiful buck walk out of the Georgia woods, well within range of his muzzleloader.
"I turned to look at Mark and he just shook his head," Stump said.
The buck was a beauty, an 8-pointer that would probably score 130 points in the Boone and Crockett system. Womack could tell it was only 2 years old, however, too young to shoot.
"When I shook my head I just saw the air go out of him [Alva]," Womack said. "I told him we'd get more chances."
Stump didn't mind. He wanted to hold out for a shooter in hopes of the footage making it into a Realtree video.
Over the next few days he learned a lesson that hunting video stars often preach but that watchers at home might not always believe: It's rarely easy to kill a trophy buck under fair chase circumstances, even when hunting deer-rich private property.
Finally, on the final day of his five-day hunt, Stump got his chance. Two big bucks, an eight-pointer and a 10-pointer, appeared near his stand. His cameraman urged him to hold out for the 10-pointer.
Stump was learning another lesson of hunting on video. When the hunter has a good shot, the cameraman often doesn't. Finally, when the 10-pointer was about 40 yards away, it all came together. Stump cocked the hammer on his muzzleloader - and the buck took off.
Stump shot at the running deer, but missed clean.
Since returning to Virginia without a trophy, Stump has had to endure some friendly ribbing from co-workers. He knows that's better than if he hadn't gotten the chance.
Hunters for the Hungry just started another raffle, this time offering a hunt with Trebark Camouflage founder Jim Crumley in Alabama.
Tickets are $10 for this year's raffle, so Stump
will probably buy three - even though he knows he has little hope of winning.
© Copyright 2004, Roanoke Times