Missouri Disabled Sportsmen
Providing Opportunities and Fellowship.....
Whether they need physical assistance, a new outdoor experience or just the friendships that evolve through the many contacts made through our organization, we at Missouri Disabled Sportsmen are pleased to provide various outdoor activities for our disabled friends.
Please read the following story from Chairman:
Hunting Brotherhood Multi-Forum Challenge - Ram Hunt 2009
It’s the first week of February, 2009. Deer season has been closed for a little over 2 weeks now, and I’ve been busy unwinding from a very eventful and successful season. The phone rings…it’s a good friend of mine, Mike (MoBowman). The first thing out of his mouth was, “What are you doing, ohhhhh…around the 5th, 6th & 7th of March?” The question caught me off-guard, at first. It sounded like he had something in mind, and I was trying to recall if I had any plans on those dates. Not an easy thing to do, since I wasn’t sitting at my desk, and had to rely solely on my memory…
Nothing immediately came to mind, so I asked Mike, “What’s up?” “How’d you like to go on a guided ram hunt, in Texas?” I immediately thought, “Heck yeah, I’d LOVE to go!”…but I remained silent at first, waiting for the other boot to drop, if you know what I mean. I don’t get many phone calls like this, so I didn’t exactly know how to react, or respond. It was about this time, that I believe Mike sensed that he ought to come forth with more details. He told me that Hunting Brotherhood contacted him, and was offering me a spot on their ram hunt!
My mind began spinning…did Mike just say what I thought he said? Is he serious…or is he trying to pull a prank? Naaaahhh…he wouldn’t do that – would he? You never know what your hunting buddies will try to pull, because hunting season is over & they’re bored to tears! I was speechless…then, as my ability to speak slowly returned, all of a sudden my memory kicked in (funny how that happens). Texas…ram hunt…Hunting Brotherhood…multi-forum challenge! But, that still didn’t explain why I was being offered a hunt. My team from MissouriWhitetails.com had won the multi-forum challenge, so we got to select the organization that would send a disabled or terminally-ill youth on a guided hunt. In no way, shape, or form did any of us expect any personal gain…it was just a friendly competition between hunting forums.
I finally just ask Mike, “What’s going on?” Mike explained how he talked to Juan, of Hunting Brotherhood, and was told that the guide sponsoring the youth hunt found out that there was a disabled hunter on the winning team of the multi-forum challenge, and opened up another spot for me.
Mike is patiently waiting for some kind of response, and I don’t know what to say. I want to say “Yes”, yet I’m a tad ambivalent about whether I can pull this off...and I sure as heck don’t want to say “No”, but may have no other choice. Then it dawned on me…this hunt is just under 4 weeks away! OMG…that’s not much time at all, to get all my ducks in a row.
First of all, that’s gonna be a L-O-N-G road-trip. I don’t do airlines, anymore. Not only that, I usually try to arrange for someone to go with me, when traveling these distances…where am I going to find me one that can take a week off, on such short notice? Let alone the fact that I haven’t traveled these distances, for quite some time. Geez, why am I worrying about that, all of a sudden? I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to go, yet. I started feeling like I was choking, as if I’d bitten off more than I can chew.
I tell Mike, “I need some time, so I can figure this out…I’ll get back with you”.
A person usually has a general idea of his limitations…or should, anyways. If not, you’ll learn pretty quickly, in situations like these. I used to get “limitations” & “expectations” mixed up, because I occasionally forget to listen to my body. I may think I can handle a situation, but believe me, the absolute worst time to realize you can’t is when you’re smack-dab in the middle of it.
I checked my schedule…nope, no conflicts. Now to find someone that could accompany me. Then it hit me…my Dad! He’s retired, he hasn’t ever been on a hunt like this before, plus it would give us some quality time together to boot! He’s been sick for quite some time, but has recently been recovering at a fast pace. He hasn’t been hunting for quite awhile either (7 years), and I sure do miss having him along on a hunt. Now if I can just convince him to go. I gave him a call, told him what was up, and asked if he’d like to go…he said “Yes” so quickly, it took me by surprise.
I called Mike & Dave (MissouriWhitetails), and Juan (Hunting Brotherhood) and announced my decision..."It’s ON"!
I mapped out our route, made all the necessary reservations, and we were good to go. We departed on March 3rd, and arrived at the Laguna Vista Ranch on March 5th, around 11:30AM. As we pulled up to the lodge, I was pleasantly surprised. It looked as if we’d won the lottery…film crew and all!
After Jed Knowlton & and the Hunting Brotherhood crew introduced themselves, I began looking for the disabled youth hunter that was supposed to join us. It was a chore finding someone, since the original youth hunter had backed out at the last minute. I was hoping & praying that Juan was successful in finding a youth hunter in time.
About that time, a mini-van pulled up, and I saw a young lady’s smiling face inside! I knew then, that Juan had pulled it off…way to go, Juan!
The first order of business was to go to the range and check our rifle’s zeros. Alyssa went first, and it was obvious she was having some issues with the rifle she had brought. Never fear…Jed to the rescue! Jed offered to let Alyssa borrow his AR, and they were back in business. It didn’t take long, and I had my NEF Handi-Rifle, in .243 Win, ready to go. Dad was having some issue’s with his .270 (I think it was the scope, myself), but finally got things lined out.
By the way – did I mention that it was HOT? I was wearing what I thought to be appropriate…but I was wrong. I thought this might happen, so Dad & I had stopped at the Bass Pro in San Antonio, and picked up some mesh shirts & hats…thank goodness! We headed back to the lodge for some lunch (AND to cool off a bit), before heading out for our first hunt that afternoon. I was chomping at the bit, to get out there!
Marcus was our guide, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He was very accommodating, and I felt confident that he was the right man for the job. This was my first guided hunt ever, and I really didn’t know what to expect. Well…Marcus put both my Dad & I at ease, from the get-go. I could tell from his demeanor, we were going to get along just fine…and that we were in for a good time. We weren’t out there long, and we began seeing all types of wildlife…but no rams. It was exciting, nonetheless. I took in all the scenery & wildlife, and was just happy to be there!
Once we returned to camp, we heard the news of Alyssa’s success. I couldn’t have been any happier, if I had scored myself! That’s what it was all about, as far as I was concerned. The hard work of Hunting Brotherhood’s paid off…mission accomplished!
Then I realized…uh-ohhhh, the pressure is on!
As the sun was going down, Marcus began preparing the grill for dinner. I was exhausted from a full day of activity, so I sat outside in the cool breeze, trying to unwind. That’s about the time Marcus mentioned that he just happened to have a bottle of Crown Royal on hand, and I was welcome to wet my whistle. I knew I was gonna like this guy…
The “unwinding” was a success (thanks, Marcus), and after sampling Marcus’ abilities as a chef, I was more than ready to turn in. Dad was so beat, he was the first one to hit the hay…I think he even skipped dinner.
It wasn’t long (never seems like it, anyways), and the alarm was going off…it’s time to get up & at ‘em! Dad was taken to a tripod stand, for his hog hunt, and Marcus & I returned to the same spot we hunted the day before. There was a chance for a storm that day, so I was hoping we would score early.
Around 9AM, clouds were starting to build, and I thought we were going to get soaked. We were planning on hunting ‘til around 10AM, so we decided to hang in there. It was about that time, that Jed contacted Marcus, and told him they had the rams spotted…on the opposite side of the ranch. We quickly got me & my gear loaded into the Polaris Ranger, and headed in that direction. It took us awhile to finally locate the rams, because they were constantly on the move. Once we had them spotted, we tried to get ahead of them, so I could get set up.
When I was preparing for a shot, we became aware that the shooting rail on the Ranger was too high, and it was going to be an issue. Everyone was trying to come up with a fix, when I realized the answer was at my feet....literally. We placed my wheelchair cushion underneath me, raising me to exactly the right height…whew!
Here come the rams, none too soon…
As I prepared to shoot, the rams grouped up, so there was no shot opportunity. We rushed to get ahead of them again…and they were still grouped up. No shot.
Well…the third time was a charm! We got ahead of them, got set up, and here they came…still grouped up. All of a sudden, one of the rams peeled off from the group, turned broad-side, and…BOOM! Corsican ram down! What a hunt! (in my best David Blanton impersonation) High-five’s & pictures followed shortly thereafter. My Dad was retrieved from his tripod stand, to share in the excitement (thank you, for that).
The generosity of Hunting Brotherhood, Jed Knowlton’s Laguna Vista Ranch & MissouriWhitetails.com was overwhelming...a successful hunt was the icing on the cake. The hunting community never ceases to amaze me, because they are so giving & caring. By providing an opportunity that otherwise may never have been realized, they also made possible memories that will last a lifetime, not to mention the new friendships that were forged. I’ll be forever grateful…and then some.
BTW - even though Dad didn’t score on a hog, he told me that he had a wonderful time. He especially enjoyed visiting with everyone in hunting camp. Plus I’ll never forget the look on his face, when he was sitting outside the lodge, and an elk came strolling by! Priceless.
I'd like to thank my team "Rack 'Em Up" who, by taking first place, made it happen: A HUGE "Thank You" to Doulblelunger (Bill), Rat (Paul), Letemgrow (Philip) & Trad-Hunter (Lance).
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the following sponsors, for making this opportunity possible:
Knowlton’s Laguna Vista Ranch
Max Grow Mineral
Terminal Velocity Archery
Big Country Outdoors Video Productions
Thank you, Chairman, for your story and picture!
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