Carroll County Hunter & Trapper Overcomes Life-Changing Challenge
My story is about overcoming the challenges of life, as well as the success of being a hunter.
On July 31, 2013, I sustained a life changing injury while at work. I fell 35 feet from a billboard, crushed both ankles and broke my back, which caused me to be paralyzed from the waist down.
Seven weeks at the Shepherd-Center in Atlanta was the biggest challenge of my life. All I could think about was hunting and enjoying the great outdoors. I was crushed at the thought of not being able to do the things I used to do. Since I was confined to a wheelchair, I was very limited to what I could do.
Finally I was ready to come home, which just happened to be the opener of dove season, and boy did we have the birds coming in. I was so excited about being able to get out and shoot some doves.
After getting set up with lots of help and creativity, I was ready to take a few shots. My first shot was a miss, the second a miss, and the same thing for the next 10 shots. My balance was so bad that I couldn’t keep a bead on the birds long enough to make a clean shot.
So after lots of practice just swinging my gun and pretending to shoot birds, I was ready for the field again. The second season was about to come in, so I got set up again. This time I was knocking them out of the sky. It was a great feeling of accomplishment.
With deer season right around the corner, I wasn’t going to let this disability get in the way. With a little help from my brother-in-law Duke, we got our rifles sighted in and picked a few spots that looked good for me to hunt from the ground.
Opening weekend was pretty active. The deer movement was good, seeing several does and a few small bucks roaming about. With me needing a fat doe to put in the freezer, I was ready to drop the hammer on one, but I was never presented with a shot I was comfortable taking.
The following weekend was a huge success. Saturday morning was cold, and the deer were on the move. I was able to take a good-sized doe for the freezer. While we were at the skinning pole dressing the doe I killed, Duke and I decided that we were going to hunt the cow pasture Sunday morning. All night Saturday I was kind of excited about what the morning had in store for me.
With little sleep, I got up and ready for the cold morning. Duke dropped me off at the cross fence in the pasture. While waiting on the sun to rise, I was goofing off and texting Duke things, like, “Already saw six.” He texted back, “Ha-Ha. What? Cows?”
The sun had barley broken the horizon, and I started seeing movement, but it was cows starting to move around. Then out of the blue I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I looked, and it was a big ol’ buck sailing through the air. He had just jumped the fence and had no idea I was anywhere around, that was until I picked up my rifle and bumped the stock on my seat.
I already knew he was a shooter, but he had zeroed in on me. With one smooth movement, I shouldered my gun, put the crosshairs on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger.
I had no time to get buck fever or any emotion at all. He bolted down the hill, and I wondered if I had missed. He was out of sight in two seconds. So, I texted Duke, “Big buck, think it’s a good 8.” He texted back, “Yeah right.” So, I called him.
Finally convincing him I was not joking, he got out of his stand and came to where I was at. We drove down the hill to where the buck went out of sight. All of the sudden Duke said, “There he is Jeffro, that’s a good 10-point.”
We hooted and hollered, high-fived, hugged, and maybe even a couple tears came down. This was the best buck I’ve ever killed, and the memory will be shared with Duke forever.
I would have to say that being in a wheelchair certainly does hinder doing things I used to do, but you can’t do it if you don’t try it. To me, any challenge that has been put in front of me I have always been able to handle it.
I would like to thank my family, friends and most of all the awesome community that I live in. Without their support, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
I promise anyone who has a disability that anything can be done if you put your mind to it and never give up. That big buck will cross your path!