Ray Howell's youthful years were filled with boyhood dreams of hunting and fishing, however, these boyhood dreams were not to become a reality until after he turned 18 due to working on his foster parent's farm.
He didn't have anyone to teach him about hunting or fishing until Tom Poukey, his social worker, took Ray on his first whitetail hunt. He only hunted with Tom and his family four times during his high school years-but he was hooked! He harvested his first deer when he was 19.
Ray's competitive nature led him to become involved with the sport of power lifting and he successfully broke several drug-free State, National, and world records after he turned 18,
Ray and his wife Karen have a family of 9 children, 30 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren, and live in Southeastern Minnesota.
Ray has successfully harvested many P&Y whitetails, which are his favorite animal to hunt. Following his boyhood dreams has taken him to the frigid cold and snow of the Arctic, the wilderness areas of Mexico, throughout the forests of Canada, the remote regions of the Yukon, and in many of the 50 states including Alaska on his quest to harvest the 28 North American animals. Travels to South Africa have allowed Ray to harvest a variety of plains game, which has also been a dream come true for him.
Ray has written many magazine articles and has been featured on the covers. He has also received several prestigious awards: Outdoor Life Top 25 Readers Choice Award; Pope & Young Club Stewardship Award; and Muzzy's Tall Man Award. He feels humbled to have received such recognition and gives the honor and glory to God.
One day, Ray was outside practicing with his bow and no matter the distance or the difficulty of the shot all his arrows hit their mark. It was almost as if he could not miss. He began to wonder where his shooting ability came from and at the same time reflected on his prosperity. For the first time Ray realized that everything that had happened in his life had happened for a purpose. His troubled youth, his business success, his success in power lifting and hunting were not coincidences. Ray says it best, "There was an overwhelming burning in my heart--so overwhelming that I went to my knees. I realized with my bow in one hand and arrows in the other that the Lord had been the one who had been guiding my arrows long before I knew He was, and He is the one who has given me all of my abilities. I also realized that these abilities were given to me for a purpose and that purpose is my calling here on earth. That calling is that nothing else means anything except to do what is God's will. He is the one who has opened all the doors for His purpose. At that moment, that's when I let Jesus into my heart and knew that there was no other path to follow here on earth. All of the questions that I've ever had about religion, the right church to be involved with, and who I really am were answered then. I hold all of that truth in my heart and have been guided by His Holy Spirit without a second thought since then."
Realizing his boyhood dreams has not only enhanced his love for the sport of archery and bow hunting but has also provided him the means to mentor many underprivileged youth by introducing them to the outdoors and the sport of bow hunting through the Kicking Bear Ministry.