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Hunting

Prelude:
I drew a tag for a “handicapped” hunt in new Mexico for elk…the hunt was a riffle hunt early October in the middle of the rut..

Story:
I broke my neck at 18 years old back in1992 leaving me a quadriplegic….Best thing that happen to me (long story)…I was a die hard hunting and fishing kid growing up and my parents couldn’t get me out of the woods…After my accident, it was my goal to not let the injury stop me from getting back into the wild and hunt as I did. It was a quick reality that I wasn’t going to be able to backpack in 6 miles to be away from the people and be confined to roads. This was a tough reality to see how many people abuse road hunting and miss so much of what hunting can be…Anyway…My dad and I started making devices I could use to hunt. It took many prototypes before we figured it out…But we did…We were ready to hunt…We tried for years here in Oregon and realized our effort on public land/roads was tough if not impossible…Frustration was very involved…Dad had a tougher time then I did… I was excited to just be out there…So we started looking for disabled hunts, knowing there would be fewer hunters…So we applied to a New Mexico elk hunt where my buddy (Brandon, guide in New Mexico) lives and I GOT A TAG…Unbelievable….So off we went..Here’s our hunt:

Saturday (opening morning) – Opening morning was super windy and we couldn’t hear anything so we drove around. While driving we spotted two bulls on the hillside…About 125 yards away… So I open the van, I put my crosshairs on the 5×5 bull and Brandon says “don’t shoot…there is bigger”…My dad (the back-up shooter) couldn’t believe it…but Brandon being from there said trust him so I did…That night came and the wind died down and we went back to driving again…An elk runs across the road… I get out of the van and take off down the road in the chair…Brandon stops me and start calling and bugle galore…Two elk call back and coming in…We have the first one in the trees about 100 yards fro the road and he’s the big one (growler) Brandon says…His drops last year scored 375…I was amazed. He was hot and coming…No later then a few minutes later a truck pulls up to see if we were having any luck….Doh…Growler gone…..So we leave…Got to love road idiots…Brandon and dad are hot….I calm them down and was just excited that bull was so close and bugling…

Sunday (next morning) – Before dark we go back to where we had growler coming in and guess who was bugling loud…Yep Growler…So we take off down a old cat road in my chair and start calling…Here he comes and its light now…I sit there just waiting for him to step out and guess what…Someone walked in around behind us and shoots a small bull in the heard….Growler gone….Brandon was irate…I was super stoked to just be in a place where elk were bugling 60 yards away from ME again…So that evening as we are driving again we see another 5×5..I get crosshairs on him and Brandon says…”Don’t Shoot”…I look at my dad and he’s just shaking his head…I was smiling…2 great bulls and don’t shoot….

Monday – this was a non-eventful day…nothing around and real quiet… Brandon says Tuesday is our day…Hunters are gone and the elk will be back…Ok I’ll hold out for a big one Tuesday then anything Wednesday…Brandon says “ok” and I put my faith back into him..

Tuesday – Got set-up again in the dark and start driving as first light…We come around the corner and dad yells “cows”. Brandon says “Where are the bulls!” and there they were 550 yards away…There was 3 of them….Brandon says “The one walking away to the right is the one you want Rich”…So I get out on the van lift and I say he’s to far for me…500 yards is out there…So Brandon says give him a sec he’s heading to the road…I am actually pretty calm as I look over and see the other two bulls are fighting….Super Kool…So we back up on the road and go down the road in reverse…This leaves the lift out on the side of the road the bull was last seen on..I back-up and see him walking out in a field…I say “Stop” and I didn’t have a clear shot…So I say ”I’m getting down on the road”…I get down on the road and we see him browsing at 330 yards…I pull up and set my crosshairs…Brandon calls to stop him… I put my crosshairs across his back and pull the trigger with my teeth…and the bull drops with a spine shot and paralyzed him…Ironic huh…So my dad runs up to a tree for a rest and he finishes him off in the neck….The look on my dads face of pure enjoyment will never be forgot…I don’t think he’s ever been more proud and we did it together…This was our first/only bull we have gotten and it’s a great starter bull….As we relaxed before going out to him…Guess who called one more time to say “Thanks for getting rid of his competition”…yep GROWLER….I’ll be back for him…My bull was a 6×6 scored out at 300…and yes the whole hunt was caught on tape…Life-time memory.

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