A Friend Indeed
article by Dan Chason
Back in the early 90’s we had booked a trip to film a deer hunting show with Everette Mayo at his deer lodge in North Central Louisiana. Little did I know that on that trip I would meet a man who would become one of my closest friends.
While there, Everette asked me if I would be interested in including one of his customers who was apparently quite the deer hunter. We agreed and were introduced to a man named Jamie Benson from Collierville, Tennessee. I was immediately taken by the jovial and amicable man who was quick with a laugh or joke. But make no mistake, this man was and is a predator. Jamie has done well in the security alarm business and had a passion for two things: his two boys, Colte and Chance and hunting. His business success had allowed him to travel all over North America in pursuit of bear, deer and other big game animals. Most of these trips were shared with Colte and Chance who like their father, shared the love of hunting and being together.
As Jamie and I sat in the stand the first afternoon, it turned out to be one of the best deer hunting trips and shows I have ever been on in my career. Jamie had scouted a green field that showed promise and decided that is where we would spend our trip that day. Remember, this was before game cameras and technology that allowed a hunter to know just what was coming in and where to set up. Jamie showed a knack for scouting and sure enough his scouting paid off. I will never forget when I first saw the buck he was after. You have to consider that I was a young TV host and most of my hunting trips up until that time had been on public land and very rarely had I seen a true trophy whitetail. That all changed when I looked up and saw a true trophy animal walking into the edge of the field trailing a doe. I’m sure Jamie was irritated with me as I was shaking like Elvis’ leg with buck fever. I could hardly hold the camera still as Jamie leveled his single shot .270 and dropped the buck in his tracks. The 150 buck was his and I don’t know who was prouder…..Jamie or me. This was the very first trophy ever filmed on our show and I could not have been happier if I had pulled the trigger.
Jamie and I stayed in touch and didn’t hunt again until I moved operations to Arkansas to our new hunting lodge. Jamie was my first customer and of course, the boys came along for the hunt.
My first hunt with Chance was memorable as muzzle loader season was in full bloom. The bucks were moving and I have scouted an area where a really nice 10 pointer was making his presence known. Chance and I set up in the edge of a locust tree cluster and I was fairly confident that we would have success. The buck came out as if on cue. Chance leveled the old smoke pole as the deer eased out at no more than 70 yards. At the sound of the rifle, I saw an explosion of wood as his bullet had struck a small locust tree, completely missing the deer. As we returned to the camp, Chance of course was deflated. I will never forget Jamie’s reaction to his son. “Chance, when you miss as many as your Daddy has then you can be upset. It’s a part of hunting, son.” Always the supporter and always a gentle guide for his sons, Jamie showed me that the experience was the adventure and not necessarily what game made it to the meat rack.
Jamie, Colte and Chance made many trips to the lodge to hunt. We rarely hunted anything but deer but the times we spent in the woods were precisely what I envisioned if my family had taken on deer hunting as Jamie’s family did. I spent days in the duck blind with his boys, fished for bass and let them burn boxes of shells on our skeet range. All of this was done while their dad stood by with a look of pride that cannot be described.
In the off season, Jamie could be found traveling the country with his daughter, Keifer who was an adamant cowgirl. Hundreds of trips and thousands of miles were logged as he juggled his work time and time with the boys to assure that his girl could pursue her dreams. Tragically, we lost Colte and during that terrible time, I tried to console my friend and give him encouragement. Jamie quit hunting for quite some time as the loss of his son was more than he could bear. The memories of hunting were just too painful.
One day in December, years later, my phone rang. “Heyyyy” the familiar greeting of my friend and a simple request: “Dan, I’m ready to hunt again.” And hunt again we did. This December hunt has become a tradition as Jamie and I join on the anniversary of Colte’s death and remember him and the times we spent together. Jamie comes to my camp regularly and whether we actually hunt is not the reason. We honor the memory of a great young man and the relationships we had and memories that can never be taken away. I have hunted turkey, deer, ducks, doves and hogs with Jamie and there has never been a “bad” hunt. He is like an uncle to my grandkids and kids and his generous and giving ways are loved by all of them. They say if you leave this world with one good friend, you are fortunate. I am fortunate to have made a lifelong friend. The old saying, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Jamie Benson is that man and I thank God for him.