Saturday, October 27, 2012


Last April I hunted red stag in La Pampa, Argentina, and the lodge owner was impressed with my attitude and desire to hunt. He told my story to an Argentine photographer who is working on a book about red stag hunting. The photographer decided to include a photo of me in the book and asked me to write a brief text.
Here’s what I came up with:

            What should a hunter do when his body begins to fail him? I asked myself this question six years ago when I was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Even as my hands, arms and legs became too weak to function, my passion for the outdoors remained strong. Through this passion I found the only answer: When a hunter’s body begins to fail him, he must keep hunting.
            As a young man, I often took to the woods alone. Now I hunt red stag with the help of good friends and modern technology. Instead of bemoaning my disability, I cultivate a positive attitude that helps me focus on what I can do. I can’t walk—but I have a wheelchair to help me get around; I can’t handle a gun—but my friends carry, load and aim the rifle for me; my finger can’t squeeze the trigger—but I have a switch that activates the trigger when I inhale on a tube; I can’t sneak through the brush and stalk a stag—but I have the patience to sit quietly and wait until one comes to me.
            I can still get out in the field to enjoy nature’s sights, smells and sounds. And when I hear a red stag roar, I feel my pulse quicken as the adrenaline surges!

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Ron, Luiz and I enjoyed our three-day hunt in Uruguay at a lodge called Rincon de los Matreros.

            Here’s what happened on the last day of our adventure:
During breakfast this morning, we noticed that one of the ranch hands outside was already preparing lunch. The small hog we killed yesterday evening had been scalded (to remove the hair), split lengthwise and wired to a grill.
In typical South American asado fashion, the grill leaned on one side of the pit while a fire burned on the other side. As the wood became red hot, the chef used a shovel to spread glowing embers under the grill. This technique doesn’t scorch the meat with open flames, and it lets the chef control the temperature to cook the pork to perfection.

And perfect it was! I’m kinda glad you weren’t there to join us because then we didn’t have to be polite and share.
That afternoon we returned to the same spot we had hunted on the first day. The chanchos were definitely wiser. We caught fleeting glimpses of a few sulking in the woods, but none ventured out in the open. They finally sent a scout; he must have drawn the short straw and was none too pleased about it. He appeared at the left edge of the clearing, glanced about nervously and melted into the woods.
The hog was back a few moments later. Still looking uncomfortable, he stepped into full view and then, just as quickly, scampered for cover. “The wind is from a different direction today,” Ron said. “He’s catching our scent.”
Twice more that hog did the here-and-gone routine so quickly that Luiz couldn’t even get the camera on it. Then the chancho nervioso seemed to gather his courage. When he trotted out and started munching corn, Ron and I gave him no time to change his mind.
Laurindo hid the dead hog in the grass and we began the waiting game again. An hour later we saw five hogs working their way through some tall grass on the hillside to our left. They also seemed wary, but eventually two of them made the mistake of coming out in the open. We ended our hunt with another perfect head shot.
Enjoy the video:

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Ron, Luiz and I enjoyed our three-day hunt in Uruguay at a lodge called Rincon de los Matreros.
            Here’s what happened on the second day of our adventure:
I’ve finally learned that pacing myself makes my travels more enjoyable, and Ron had no objections when I suggested that we hunt only in the afternoons on this trip. Today I awoke around 8:30 and Luiz wheeled me to the breakfast table just as Ron was returning from a morning stroll. (He said a white cat had followed him around like a puppy.)
We took it easy for much of the day and then headed out at 3:30. This stand site occupied a 20- by 100-yard flat spot at the base of a steep hill. Laurindo had scattered corn about 60 yards from the shooting house. After we got situated in the blind, Ron and I tested my trigger control to avoid the need for last-minute, hurried adjustments.
The first critter to appear was a young red stag that trotted down the hill on our left, nibbled at the corn for a few minutes, and then disappeared back up the hill. Soon after that, Ron pointed out two larger stags on the brushy hillside. They lowered their heads to click antlers a couple times but didn’t do any serious sparring.
Suddenly we heard a series of evenly spaced, high-pitched yelps come from behind the blind. I gave Laurindo a questioning look. “Axis deer,” he said. “They know we’re here.”
The barking continued for several minutes as three axis does voiced their disapproval of our presence. Then…silence. A long silence. When the sinking sun touched the hilltop, Luiz said, “Looks like the hogs won this round.”
As soon as the words left his mouth, a pair of 100-pound porkers sauntered in from our left. Unlike the restless bunch we saw yesterday, these two settled right down to business and started feeding. Laurindo, who really enjoyed watching Ron and me shoot as a team, urged us to act quickly: “Kill one of them. We might have time to get another one tonight.”
A hog stood broadside long enough for Ron to hold the crosshairs on its ear; I inhaled on my trigger tube, and—BOOM—that chancho was brain-dead before I could exhale.
Laurindo went out to check our work, dragged the hog away from the corn and returned to the blind to resume our stakeout. Twenty minutes later, in the gathering dusk, we decided to call it quits. Laurindo went to get the pickup. He took two steps from the blind and did an immediate about-face.
Chanchos!” he whispered.
We had barely enough light for my scopecam to work as two big sows and four yearlings came into view. Ron got on target quickly when one of the smaller hogs moved to the left, turned to face us, and lowered its head. We tallied an instant kill when our bullet entered the base of the hog’s skull.
When Laurindo loaded the 60-pounder on the truck, he said, “Perfect size. We’ll put it on the grill tomorrow.”
Here’s the video:

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Ron, Luiz and I enjoyed our three-day hunt in Uruguay at a lodge called Rincon de los Matreros.

            Here’s what happened on the first day of our adventure:
            In April I told Ron that I had no plans to hunt in the USA this year because the long (nine-plus hours) flight from Rio de Janeiro has become too hard on me. His immediate response was to make arrangements to visit me in Brazil in September. My immediate response to that—because I know my redneck friend would go bonkers if we just lounged on the beach for a week—was to plan a south-of-the-Equator hunt with my buddy.
            My first thoughts turned toward Argentina, but red stag season only runs from March through July, and my condition renders dove hunting out of the question (at least until we figure a way to wingshoot as a team with my adaptive gear). I had enjoyed a hog hunt in July 2011 at Rincon de los Matreros lodge in Uruguay, and decided another visit was in order.
            Ron arrived in Rio on September 9, and the next morning we were on our way to Uruguay. My aide Luiz Paier accompanied us on an adventure full of “firsts” for him: first time on an airplane, first international trip, first hunt.
            We began with a 2-hour flight to Porto Alegre (in southern Brazil) and had time for a sandwich before catching the 1-hour flight to Montevideo. Laurindo, the head guide at Rincon de los Matreros, greeted us and loaded our bags in his pickup. We then made the 3 1/2-hour drive north to the small town of Treinta y Tres (which means Thirty-Three) and the lodge. We got there around 8 p.m., had dinner with the owner, Mathieu Jetten, and hit the hay.
            Ron mounted my adaptive shooting gear on Mathieu’s .243 after breakfast the next morning, and we spent much of the day relaxing and catching up on conversation. We headed out at 3:30.
Rincon de los Matreros is a high-fence hunting operation that covers more than 3,000 acres of very hilly countryside, with 10 solidly built shooting houses distributed throughout the grounds. Each blind overlooks an automatic feeder that scatters corn to attract several types of deer as well as feral goats and hogs. I don’t try to kid myself into believing we’re hunting extremely wary, 100-percent-wild animals; however, it requires patience to wait for the right animal to show up, and skill to put one down with a well-placed shot. And I truly enjoy the time spent with friends in a rural setting.
After a bouncy, 20-minute ride we reached our blind. I sat by the left wall, Ron sat to my right, Luiz—video camera in hand—squeezed in on the other side of Ron, and Laurindo sat behind me. Our objective was to take eating-size hogs of 100 pounds or less.
Shortly after we settled in, the feeder clattered and spread some corn on the ground. “That’s like ringing the dinner bell,” Ron said as five porkers trotted into view.
“They’re all the right size,” Laurindo said. “Take the one you want.”
Easier said than done. A gang of young hogs behaves like a group of rambunctious schoolboys that crowd together, jostle one another and never stand still. When one finally strayed from the rest, Ron steadied the crosshairs and I inhaled on my trigger tube. And nothing happened!
The bumpy ride to the blind had nudged the trigger actuator out of alignment, but Ron quickly got it back on track. Just as quickly, though, the luckiest oinker in Uruguay rejoined his buddies and signed a new lease on life.
After a few more minutes, a different hog made the fatal mistake of drifting far enough away from the sheltering crowd to give us a clear shot. The pig went down and obviously wasn’t going to get back up; its continued thrashing, however, told us we hadn’t scored an instant kill.
Still toting the camera, Luiz followed Laurindo when he went down to dispatch the hog. Luiz was quite impressed when Laurindo nonchalantly pushed his knife into the hog’s throat, and jokingly called our guide “evil” and “cold blooded.”
“There’s a good chance that more chanchos will come in before dark,” Laurindo said. “What do you want to do?”
We all agreed to wait and see. Ron kept telling Luiz to go hide by the feeder with Laurindo’s knife so he could leap out and stab a pig. Soon Luiz had a new nickname: Blade.
An hour after our first shot, a dozen hogs tumbled out of the woods and restlessly milled around as they scarfed up corn. Ron turned on the scopecam, Luiz put the trigger tube in my mouth, and we watched for an opportunity. Patience paid off when 80 pounds of fresh pork put just enough distance between himself and his brethren by taking a few steps to our left. A head shot conjugated this one into past tense before it hit the ground.
The fallen hog twitched spasmodically, prompting Luiz to ask, “Is it dead?”
“No,” Ron said flatly. “Go finish it off with the knife.”

Enjoy the video: