I have waited for this moment for a long time. May 26, 2010 – 9:15 AM. Today I harvested my first turkey in 11 years. I had been an avid hunter prior to my disability. I believed I would never be able to hunt again, especially by myself. Today’s success was the result of the labors of many people: my wife, who walked me out and help me set up, my nurse Rhonda, who came at 6 AM the mornings in May so I would have more time to hunt, my neighbor Mike, who allows me to hunt his land, my friend John, who gave me his time to set up blinds made out of snow fence and camouflage material, and so it goes. My wife likes to say “It takes a village”.
I am also proud of myself. Over the 11 years, I got discouraged; turkeys often were close enough to harvest but something always went wrong. In the beginning it was my inability to camouflage my wheelchair well enough, then my finger couldn’t pull the trigger, or I had a muscle spasm which alerted the turkeys to my presence and were instantly gone. But I persisted and attempted to correct the challenges as they presented themselves. But at the end of each spring I had the same results — NOTHING. Often it was a process of trial and error, but gradually my efforts began to improve my chances. I created a trigger adapter which allows me to fire the shotgun using my mouth. Not only does this solve the problem of trying to find the trigger, but it also allows me to use both hands to steady the gun. At many points along the way it would’ve been easy to give up and quit. I know from experience it’s a lot easier to give advice to others than it is to take it myself. So get discouraged, get frustrated, but don’t give up.
One of the things I like the most about hunting is that it is totally irrelevant to the game that I am an individual with a disability. To the turkeys I hunt, I am just another predator and that’s all I ask for. Today was definitely a day worth waiting for.