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Ethics Check – December 2008
Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Cut the Trail

by Bob Peck 12-09-08

On and off it took nearly a month to cut the trail in.  With a lot of help from friends, decent weather, hard physical labor, hours behind a chainsaw and the rental of a small bobcat front loader our paralyzed friend Jack could be wheeled nearly a half a mile into some excellent Upstate NY hunting ground and directly into a Double Bull ground blind.  Sweet.  My Mom used to always say, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” We had both and ended up very satisfied with the results.

None of Jack’s hunting compadres ever really thought of him as a physically challenged bowhunter.  He was the same old Jack but with some challenges none of us had. Without the use of his legs there was no practical way he could continue independent hunting after MS began to ravage his body.  He was and is the most die-hard bowhunter I think I ever met.  In our little hunting posse we all agreed that you do what you have to do for a friend. None of us consciously spoke of this but our actions created a magnificent trail.  Going hunting with this hunting buddy was in some ways no different but in many real ways completely different.  Let me explain.

Whether Jack had the use of his legs or not we’d be together on the hunt, we’d share the experiences of the day and in the case of turkey hunting, we’d be side-by-side just like we’d be deer hunting in this ground blind.  The part we both had to get used to was the physical effort it took for both of us to get all our gear to the blind all the while pushing 180 lbs of friend up and down hills for a half a mile.  Imagine snow, debris and mud on the trail and trying to be quiet.  This opened up a whole new set of challenges neither of us had any experience with.  This last statement is more to describe the logistics than a plea for any kind of sympathy or self aggrandizing accolades.  Like I said, when it comes to friends, you do what you do because you love them and appreciate them.  Once in the blind, we were both hunting with bows but there was the not-so-little matter of silently maneuvering your buddy’s chair so he had the right angle to shoot.  With a little practice this was no big deal as was Jack’s ability to maneuver the bow around the chair.

The first two years we managed to shoot a few nice deer and enjoyed cooking venison for each other’s families.  Gutting them out and getting them out became a two part deal.   Jack was lifted from his chair and laid on the ground to field dress his own deer that we usually dragged back to him. When you see a hunter claw and drag his nonfunctioning lower half without a single complaint you suddenly understand a side to survival some of us take for granted.  When he was finished whomever was hunting with Jack would hoist him back in his chair.  With part one (the field dressing) complete it was now time for part two.

You get your buddy out and then make a separate trip back with a deer cart to remove the animal(s).  The benefit to the “buddy first” procedure was a warm truck and a hot cup of coffee waiting when the manual labor was done. Jack always insisted on helping to skin and process the deer.  Once back in his garage we had the use of his electric wheelchair which came in handy in hoisting up the deer on the gambrel not to mention his  ingenious use of a golf ball, rope and homemade hide gizmo that kept tension on the hide while we worked the hide off the deer in a fraction of the time.

Year three was not such a good year for Jack and our hunting posse. Although our little trail network expanded to include some tributary trails, Jack’s MS was getting worse to the point where he couldn’t manage his compound bow very well.  We rigged a crossbow holder and tested the rig. Beautiful, it worked beautiful.  Like the trail building exercise, inventing a modified crossbow and holding fixture was a true team effort.  Jack was shooting quarter sized groups from 30 yards with no effort.  We’d cock the crossbow and slide it into the mounting fixture one of the guys fabricated in his shop and wha la!  Jack was back in business for the upcoming season. Then someone in our group brought up the fact that crossbows weren’t legal in New York.  “Wait a minute! Isn’t there an exception? Isn’t there a special permit for physically challenged hunters?”  As it turned out there was but the “exception” was only for quadriplegic hunters who had to actuate the trigger mechanism with a blow tube. This wasn’t Jack.  He could still hold his upper body erect in the chair and sight the crossbow and pull the trigger. Houston, we have a problem.  Would you sacrifice your ethics and break the law to help your physically challenged buddy hunt?

I’ll fill you in on the rest of the story after y’all have had a chance to mull this one over.

Member Profile – December 2008
Sunday, December 7th, 2008

This Month’s Member Profile is On Anthony Picariello (AKA: ADjam5 on our forum) from Garnerville,NY in Rockland county

Anthony (left) is pictured with his oldest boy Joe, who is turning out to be quite a successful deer hunter!

Any amount of time spent on our forum will provide some insight into Anthony’s real passion; spending quality time in the outdoors with his 3 sons.  His informative posts are loaded with pictures of his boys and their success.  We enjoy those posts Anthony! Now, on to the questions:

HH: Tell us a little about your hunting background?
AP:
I have been hunting since 1985. My Dad did not hunt. I was raised in The Bronx,NY and always interested in the outdoors. I and was introduced to hunting by my cousins husband. In retrospect, there is not one sport that can hold a candle to the hunter. I moved upstate, if you can call Rockland upstate…12 years ago and am blessed with a wild kingdom in my backyard. Yes, that means Whitetail too. A hunter is who I am, not what I do.

HH: What is your favorite type of hunting and why?
AP:
Bow hunting deer used to be my favorite. But since my sons have gotten in the game. I have to say persuing that elusive Eastern Gobbler has become my favorite.The interaction with the Tom, Sitting away with the vid cam, watching my boys set up and call. I get teary eyed thinking about how they apply what I’ve taught. That subtle wisper to my son sitting infront of me… to swing his gun around on the jake…I take great pleasure watching my kids enjoy the outdoors.

HH: What advice about this type of hunting can you relay to the members of Heritage Hunters?
AP:
Turkey hunting is a great way to introduce others to hunting. The thundering gobble of a bird off its roost… can get anyone excited and hooked.
It is great for kids.
Just hunt safe…turkey hunting has the added danger of hunting in full camo. Wear Orange when you move.

HH: If you could hunt anywhere in the world for any type of animal, where and what would it be for?
AP:
Colorado, Rocky Mountain Elk with a bow, during the rut. Up close… yeah baby.

HH: By the looks of the pics you’ve posted on the forum, you’re doing a great job of passing on the Hunting Heritage to your sons.  What would your plans be for them in there hunting careers?
AP:
I have 3 sons, Joe(17)AJ(14) and Michael(12). When they were born, they each recieved a Lifetime NYS Sportsmans License. I did my best to make sure I had hunting partners well into the future. My oldest in in his senior year in North Rockland High and is a Honor Society kid, he is actually looking into a future in the outdoors. He is considering being a NYS Econ Police officer, but is leaning towards forestry and agriculture. This one is archery obsessed and practically sleeps with his Mathews DXT. Joe also runs a internet Outdoor Bulletin Board.
http://z4.invisionfree.com/The_Great_Outdoors/index.php?act=idx
The other boys have not got bitten as bad a Joe has yet with the hunting bug, but they show a sincere interest in the shooting and hunting sports. These boys have been brought up in the”life” of a outdoorsman. Hunting with Dad and fishing from a very early age. I remember carrying the little guy in the woods with me shed hunting.
I hope that where ever my sons paths in life take them, as they grow up, maybe all over the world. They will assemble atleast once a year to hunt together well into adulthood. My legacy.

HH: How did your Fall Seasons turn out?
AP:
Our crow season opener in Sept. is always a blast. The kids do good and skeet is a perfect tuner upper for them. Fall Turkey was a bust all around.
Now this years deer season. As of today. We have taken 5 deer so far this year. My son Joe shot 2 with the bow and one with the gun and I shot 2 doe. One with the bow and one with the gun. My son AJ, Anthony Jr. took advantage this year of the NYS relaxed regs for youth deer gun hunters and deer hunted this year. He passed on many does waiting for horns, and we had doe tags! We bowhunt deer in suburban Rockland county and gun/bow hunt on our familys 60acre parcel in Sullivan county.

HH: What are your plans for the 2009 Seasons (Turkey / Deer)?
AP:
I took a pencil and pad with me to the ground blind I sit in this season and wrote a whole bunch of stuff down I want to do for the next coming seasons.
1st thing is cut down that dang birch tree in front of the bow stand…how’d I miss clearing that shooting lane?
My main concern for the upcoming seasons will be to get my 2 youngest, turkeys this spring.  Oh we have a blast turkey hunting walking the mountain behind our land.

Well, we wish you and your boys lots of luck this Spring Anthony and keep up the great work at passing on the Hunting Heritage!

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