Last year I started shooting a shotgun and found a way to adapt it to my rifle mount. I hope to be able to take a pheasant or grouse this fall. The shotgun is primarily used to shoot moving targets like pheasant and grouse, and I'm able to move my shoulder enough to position the gun out in front of the bird and then pull the trigger. When I shoot the shotgun, it’s quite a dance to see, because there are so many different moving parts before I can get the gun in position to pull the trigger. I also hope to be able to shoot my shotgun well enough to shoot targets at the trap range.
I primarily hunt in northeast North Dakota with five or six good hunting buddies. All I have to do is call them, and they’ll take me hunting with them. When I first became injured, I really thought hunting was off the table. I didn’t see any way that I could get back into hunting and actually take animals. I think this is a problem that people always have if they’ve hunted before their accidents, and then they're told they never will walk again. I've learned that there are many ways to get to go hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing and kayaking without being able to walk. If you’ve enjoyed the outdoors before and have a little bit of grit and determination, the outdoors can continue to be a recreational opportunity for you. I think each person has to figure out what they need to do with whatever disability they have to return to the outdoors. Because I lived in a small community, there was no one I could talk to or learn from who hunted and fished from a wheelchair. So, I had to pioneer my little corner of the world on how to become active in the outdoors in a wheelchair.
Another big challenge that I had to consider before I made the decision to get back into the outdoors was terrain. We have quite a few creeks, mountains and valleys here in North Dakota and also have snow, ice and rain. But my motorized wheelchair has taken me places I'm sure this chair was never designed to go. When I find a creek, I almost can always go upstream or downstream and find a bridge to cross or a shallow spot to drive across. If I encounter a hill too steep to climb or too steep to go down, my buddies usually will push or pull to give my wheelchair a little bit more energy to deal with the terrain. To hunt, I’m constantly trying to figure out new and different ways to adapt to the terrain. It’s really no different than learning new skills and new techniques to live my everyday life.