Hunting from a Wheelchair

Hunting has been in my family for generations. In fact, my first gun was a BB gun at the age of 10. I'll never forget the time my grandfather took it away from me for shooting a squirrel at camp. As I grew older I understood hunting wasn't just about killing. It was a real sport. The challenge was not only stalking and shooting your prey, it was about understanding your weapon and following the laws, too. Duck hunting was my particular favorite sport. After my dirt bike accident I was a quadriplegic and thought the sport I loved would no longer be possible. I'm happy to say that is not the case. With a little ingenuity and a lot of stubbornness, I am back in the duck blind.

It took several years to get back into hunting. I was worried that I would never be able to safely enjoy it again, but I'm a stubborn individual and I don't accept the words "I can't do it." The first obstacle to overcome was figuring out a way to hold the shotgun on my shoulder without dropping it. My friends Bob and Jay tried a leather strap and that failed. So we decided to screw a T-handle to the front stock and that enabled me to push the shotgun into my shoulder. That worked great.

Now the trigger was a big problem, as my fingers don't move. We tried sewing a loop on the thumb of a glove to pull the trigger but the glove would stretch and not pull the trigger. Then one day, I was looking at my spoon holder and thought of a way to convert it to a trigger finger. First, I cut the spoon part off and bent the narrow end like a hook, wrapping extra Velcro around the wrist to keep it from slipping off. That just might work, but it was time to try it out. I was nervous. We loaded the gun, put it to my shoulder, took the safety off, and fired it. It worked! I fired three shots and hit the target every time. On the third shot I lost my balance and almost fell out of my chair. So we made Velcro straps around my waist to keep me in place.

Norm firing his modified shotgun

Next, I went skeet shooting. The first time out, I hit 10 out of 23 targets, which I thought was great. By the time duck hunting season was here, I was shooting 20 skeets out of 25. My buddies then built me an accessible blind to hide from the ducks. On the opening day I shot five ducks and that felt incredible.

Before my injury, I was averaging 50 to 60 ducks in a season. And while it felt great to be hunting again, I wondered if I could do it even better. I needed to change my trigger set-up to be quicker, so I had an extension welded to the trigger so I could slide my finger in and pull back to fire. It worked perfectly. Soon after that change, my season average was up to 60 to 70 ducks and several geese. Not bad for a quad.

Then in 1996 I had an accident with my shotgun. I misjudged my trigger and when I pressed it, my left arm blew out the window of my van. I told my wife I'm all done hunting. Well, that turned out to not be entirely true. I'm not duck hunting anymore, but I'm deer hunting and turkey hunting. First I had to show my wife how safe my set-up was to use. I bought a tree stand pod and bolted it to my Kawasaki mule. It works awesome. If I could afford it, I would buy a track chair to hunt. Just being outdoors is awesome and refreshing.

Norm with his hunting buddies

Just remember this: if you have the will and maybe a stubborn streak, you will find a way to accomplish your goal. I find UTVs, a 2-4 person off-road vehicle, are the best ever for hunting, nature rides, or just going riding with your friends feeling great about being independent, I love it! Being able to participate in the sport I love just like my buddies means the world to me. There are many devices now to safely adapt to your particular disability enabling you to hunt, too. I hope you can read this blog and know that it is possible. If any readers want to share their experiences hunting or any outdoor stories, I love to hear them.

About the Author

Norm

I'm 61 years old, not afraid to say what's on my mind whether I'm right or not. I'm a retired K-8 teacher, I like to talk, I love the outdoors, and I love to hunt. I'm married with two kids and four grandchildren.

Norm's ride is a Magic Mobility wheelchair.

Most of the stories here on LiveQuickie.com were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.


Date: 11/13/2018 12:00:00 AM


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