Written by Bowhunting.com contributors Art and Michelle Helin.
Something’s different at the shows this year. Oh, there have been manufacturers, dealers and all the latest and greatest new products at the consumer deer and turkey expos. There was live entertainment and TV personalities making appearances and signing autographs at ATA and SHOT. But something is missing – a certain presence, an energy. Some people are feeling it more than others. Drake Taylor is what is missing this year.
Drake “Little D” Taylor, age 18, died suddenly on November 28, 2012 from complications of MoyaMoya. He had a rare form of dwarfism called Osteodysplastic Primordial Dwarfism (MOPD type 2), along with the MoyaMoya, which is a rare blood vessel disorder of the brain. MoyaMoya and the brain surgeries required to treat it caused developmental delays, but Drake didn’t let that, or his small size of only 39 inches tall and 40 pounds, keep him from doing anything and everything he set his mind to.
Despite limitations that may have held others back, Drake Taylor faced them head on and lived his life to the fullest.
Drake lived life to its fullest and was involved in many organizations including Special Olympics, 4-H, Central IL Riding Therapy (CIRT) and Little People of America (LPA). He was the creator and inspiration behind Little D Designs, a unique line of handcrafted beaded jewelry and keepsakes. An aspiring painter, Drake’s works were sold at Exhibit A Gallery in Peoria, IL and retail shows throughout the Midwest. His personality, determination, patience and creativity led to success in everything he did. At the 2011 ATA show, Drake was introduced to the hunting industry. Or should we say, the hunting industry was introduced to Drake. At the time, Drake’s mother, Beverly, was working at Lone Wolf Treestands with Bob Reggin. Drake had started to show an interest in hunting so Jared Schlipf, one of the owners of Lone Wolf, invited the entire Taylor family – Randy, Beverly and Drake – to travel to Indianapolis with him. Neither they nor we will ever be the same.
Not only was Drake an avid outdoorsman, he was also an artist; gaining much of his inspiration from the outdoors and the thing he loved to do the most….hunt.
Drake packed more hunting into just 23 months than many people do in a lifetime. He hunted black bear (twice), whitetail deer (multiple times), turkey (three), alligator, Texas dall ram, hog, buffalo carp, and squirrel with his custom TenPoint crossbow. Drake added “guy jewelry” to his product line, was “the voice of PODS (People Outdoors Doing Something)” for the company Huntin’ Is Good, and was an honorary guest hunter on numerous TV hunting shows. The hunting and travelling added to the Taylor’s already busy lives, yet as always, they “embraced the journey” that was Drake’s life. Drake and his parents lived their family motto: “Do your best, have fun, and hang around good people”. Drake was offered many opportunities from the great people of the hunting industry, for which Randy and Beverly are extremely thankful.
Drake’s family supported him in everything he did as any loving parents would have done. The result? A life full of joy and special memories that touched a great deal of people.
Some of you may have wondered if this was what Drake had really wanted to do, or if his parents were pushing him into it. It was all Drake. As Beverly once explained, “Do they really think you can get a teenager up at 4 am to go sit in the cold, dark woods if they don’t want to?” In the end, Drake always had the last say about whether or not to participate in something. We feel fortunate, humbled and grateful that Drake chose to hunt with us 3 times in 2012, along with fishing, shopping at Bass Pro, and so much more. We will forever cherish the precious time we spent together, glad that we didn’t “put off until tomorrow…” The Taylors became not only our friends, but family.
The hunting industry has lost a special friend. Drake received a lot from all of us, but we got so much more in return.
We miss you, little buddy.
Art and Michelle Helin and the entire Bowhunting.com staff