I’m proud to say the May 2013 issue of Outdoor Life magazine includes a short piece about me in the “My Outdoor Life” section. The editor, Andrew McKean, “interviewed” me by emailing a list of questions, which I answered in writing. We covered much more than Andrew was able to publish in the half-page article, so I’ve put up my lengthy answers here in three posts. Here’s the third part.
Q: Talk to me about the sorts of adaptive technology you've incorporated in your hunts. Is there any particular device that is especially noteworthy or groundbreaking?
A: Although I can’t hold a rifle, two devices keep me actively involved in the hunt. Both are made by BE-Adaptive, and I encourage all disabled outdoorsmen to check out their adaptive shooting gear (http://www.beadaptive.com).
The Scope Cam System fits on nearly any riflescope. A mini camera mounts on the eyepiece and sends the image to a small video monitor, providing a scope’s eye view—crosshairs and all—for me and my point man (who handles the rifle). We both follow the sight picture as the point man aims, and I decide when to shoot.
I squeeze the trigger with a sip-activated control. I inhale on a tube to trip a solenoid that pushes a bar against the trigger.
Q: I want to talk about the teamwork that you build around every hunt. What are the ingredients of the "A-Team"?
A: For the first couple years after my diagnosis, I needed help getting dressed and getting in/out of vehicles, but once I was settled in the blind I could safely handle a gun and hunt by myself. I called Ligia and Ron my “pit crew” because they performed these tasks with impressive efficiency. Ron would hunt in a nearby stand and keep tabs on me via two-way radio.
In 2008, when I told him I could no longer handle a gun, Ron said he would “do whatever it takes” to get me out hunting. Ron’s pledge inspired me to research the Web and find the adaptive shooting gear I mentioned. We first used the gear on a hunt in
When we returned to the lodge one evening with a pair of whitetails we’d taken,
all the other hunters congratulated me. I kept saying, “It was a team effort.”
Then I began referring to Ron, Ligia and myself as The A-Team.
double, October 2008
Since then The A-Team has grown to include the many people who have helped me enjoy hunts in the
USA, Argentina and Uruguay.
Our most important ingredient is communication at every phase: deciding what, when and where to hunt; coordinating travel plans; at the hunt site, discussing strategy and logistics—a guy in my condition can’t just go out there and wing it. Communication when preparing to shoot is critical. Even though I can usually see what he’s doing, I ask my point man to tell me when he chambers a shell, closes the bolt or flicks off the safety. This communication helps reinforce safe gun handling, but it can lead to funny moments like the time we saw a deer we wanted to shoot…Ron put the trigger tube in my mouth and then said, “I’m taking off the safety. Don’t breathe!”
The point man and I must form a mutual trust. I trust him to hold steady and aim true (which I confirm on the Scope Cam), and he trusts me to be patient and activate the trigger at the right moment.
To join The A-Team you must be a safety conscious, ethical hunter; have a positive, can-do attitude; know how to fully appreciate a day of hunting whether we see game or not. And you damn well better have a good sense of humor because we’re here to enjoy the experience.
Ron summed up A-Team philosophy when he once told me, “I’d rather shoot a four-point buck with you than take a ten-point by myself.”
The A-Team in Argentina, 2010