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.
When I'm hunting antelope on my own, I prefer to wear Mossy Oak Brush, since there's not a lot of trees and leaves in that pattern. Where I hunt, we don’t have many trees. But when I go elk hunting up in the mountains, I like Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity. I not only bowhunt, but I also rifle hunt.
I've been asked, “Why did you take on the challenge of helping set up the hunt to take these young men antelope hunting?” My standard answer is that a friend asked me for help, and it felt like the right thing to do. These young men came from Michigan, Indiana, Maryland and Gillette, Wyoming, where I live. The PCBA took care of these young men’s expenses to travel to Gillette.
We had permission to hunt on a large piece of property and two ranches - plenty of room to move our hunters around and switch our stands to the water holes where the antelope were showing up. Besides me, we had seven hunters scouting for antelope, setting up blinds and sitting in the blinds with our hunters. We had another eight people helping with the cooking and the other logistics with the hunt. The hunters came in on August 19, 2014 and hunted August 20-22. One of our hunters, Tagger from Michigan, had cerebral palsy. Samuel from Indiana had Asperger's syndrome. Dayton from Maryland and Alex from Gillette both had cerebral palsy.
We used Barronett blinds, because they were really big blinds with enough room to have four people in each blind. All the water holes we hunted were accessible by vehicle. We could drive up to the blind before daylight and unload our hunters, our guides and their equipment. Then the guide would park his vehicle, so the antelope couldn’t see it. Then, he’d walk back to the blind and get his hunters set up and ready to shoot when the antelope arrived.
On the first morning, I hunted with Alex from Gillette. We saw two antelope does. The young men had tags that would allow them to take a buck or a doe, but they all agreed they wanted to take bucks. So, Alex passed on the two does. Also cattle came by that bumped our blind and spooked the antelope. At the end of the first day, we took our blind down and moved it to another location. I only got to hunt with Alex one day, because I felt I needed to be mobile to get to any of our hunters quickly who took an antelope. The 90-degree weather meant I needed to get any antelope field dressed, into the truck and to the butcher shop immediately. We didn’t want the meat or any trophy to spoil. A friend of mine guided Alex on the rest of the hunt.
My day job is working at a coal mine. I've been trained in mine rescue and certified as a first responder. I wanted to be flexible enough so if any of our hunters had any type medical problem I could get to them quickly and help them until an ambulance reached the scene. Our rescue team has monthly training sessions, so that we stay updated on the best procedures to use if we’re called to an accident or a medical emergency.
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.