Editor’s Note: Paul Connelly of Gillette, Wyoming, a Mossy Oak Pro Staffer, actively works with the PCBA (Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America). Mossy Oak Pro Staffers are far more than just hunters, seminar speakers and representatives for Mossy Oak. They're also heavily involved in community service. Often no one knows what these men and women of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff do for others. A hunt of a lifetime doesn’t always have to involve someone taking an animal. Connelly, his friends and his community have learned that providing a hunt of a hunt of a lifetime is far more rewarding than receiving a hunt of a lifetime.
I was amazed at the different types of adaptive crossbows that the young archers brought to our hunt. For instance, Alex doesn’t have very good use of his hands, and the stock on his crossbow has a CO2 canister built into it. The CO2 cartridge activates a mechanism that when he presses a button, this device pulls the string of his crossbow back and cocks the bow for him. Then he can put his arrow on the crossbow string. If he doesn’t shoot the bow, he takes his arrow off the string and out of the bow. He presses the button on his stock to activate the CO2 cartridge that causes a mechanism in the bow to let the string down and de-cock the bow. I was really excited to see that crossbow manufacturers were developing adaptive equipment, so that young people like Alex could hunt.
On the second day of the hunt, we had two programs going. I took the hunters and their families that had tagged out to the surface coal mine where I worked. I drove them around the mine in a van. I showed them how we moved the dirt, brought the coal out of the ground, moved the coal in big trucks up a haul road and dumped the coal into the hoppers of a crusher. They also got to see a “shot.” A shot takes place when we drill holes in the ground, fill those holes with explosives and then set off a charge to blow the dirt above the seam of coal away from the seam. They wanted to see the haul trucks that I drove. I told them, “Driving these trucks is like driving a two-story house.” When I pulled the tucks up beside them, they couldn’t believe how enormous those big coal trucks were.
While I was taking the youngsters on the tour of the coal mine, I kept checking with my guides to make sure they were seeing antelope, and everyone was okay. At about 1:30 p.m., I got a text from one of my guides who said, “We’re not seeing anything from this blind. We may need you to come, get us and move us to another blind.” However, about 15 minutes later, that same guide texted me again and explained, “We just had two nice bucks come in behind us about 200 yards away, and now they’re lying down in the grass.” Thirty minutes later I got a text from the same guide that said, “Buck down.” I texted the guide, “Do you need my help?” His response was,“Yep.” So, my 9-year old son, Noah, and I jumped in the truck and went to help take care of the downed antelope. When we arrived at the blind, Tagger and his guide were coming back to the blind after taking the antelope that had come in from behind the blind. Tagger had hit the antelope in his lungs and the antelope had run several hundred yards before it went down. Noah and I took the buck to Olds Processing.
On the way to the processor, I called Dan Sprinkles who was hunting with Alex, and asked, “Have you seen any antelope?” Sprinkles answered, “Yes, we've seen quite a few, and Alex had a shot at 52 yards.” Alex’s mom was in the blind with him. As she watched in horror, she saw Alex take the crossbow off his shoulder and sit it down in the blind. “Why didn’t you shoot?” Alex’s mom asked as the antelope walked away. Alex explained that, “No one told me to shoot. I was waiting on someone to call the shot.” By the time Alex picked his crossbow up again and prepared to shoot, the antelope had moved off a little ways from where he originally had been standing. Alex aimed with his 50-yard pin, but the antelope was at 60 yards instead of 52, so the arrow hit the dirt right under the antelope’s chest. Alex had to come in early off his stand anyway because he had football practice.Even though he has cerebral palsy, he still plays with the football team. The next day was Saturday, and Noah (my son) and Alex both had football games. So after the games, I took Alex and his dad antelope hunting. We set up a blind in an alfalfa field. The closest an antelope came to us was 130 yards. Since Alex lives here in town, I plan to take him out again before the season is over.
To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook and print book, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or Smartphone.
For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from http://johninthewild.com/free-books.