Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I want to start off by giving thanks to all of you for following this blog since it's inception in June.  We embarked into the big world of the disabled outdoors.  The adventures have been great and I am excited about the prospects of the future.  Thanks be to God for placing inside of my heart a passion for hunting, fishing and travel.  I am most alive when in pursuit of one or all three of these endeavors.  It thrills my heart to share my experiences with you and hopefully pass along some good tips and knowledge for your success in the outdoors as well.  I want to thank my incredible wife and amazing son for giving me the freedom to chase adventure from early in the morning to well after dark in some cases so that I can deliver from actual experiences this blog to you the readers.  They have given and contributed to this endeavor just as much if not more than I.

Secondly, I want to wish each of you and your families a Merry Christmas.  I know where I came from in my life and where I am today.  The difference between those two points has and always will be Jesus.  He is the answer to all that ails me.  He completes the greatest desires of my heart.  He is the loving Father I always wanted.  If no one has ever told you, then let me enlighten you, you are His favorite son or daughter too!  He is the true gift of Christmas.

Lastly, 2015 is upon us.  As we close out 2014, I hope that you give it your all.  That you check some things off the list and move them from the "To Do" to the "To Done" side of the paper.  2014 has been a year of firsts for me.  I have never written professionally nor had I ever killed a deer until 2014.  I am so excited for the coming year and all that God has in store for all of us.  Ahh the stories we will be able to tell and share this time next year.  I want to encourage you to set some goals.  Work hard at achieving them.  We hope to sign four sponsors in 2015 to Handicapped Outdoors and add a small team of writing contributors.  We also hope to begin to market solutions for handicapped/disabled outdoors men and women in my store -  If you would be interested in being a sponsor, a producer or manufacturer, please shoot me an email and we will be in touch.

New Years
This is the final blog for 2014.  I will be spending the rest of the year with my family and recharging my soul.  There is also a large antlered deer that needs my attention, LOL!  I will be back in January with some fresh articles in the arena of travel and fishing will be here before you know it.  Be blessed.  Spend time with your loved ones.  Get out there!  It's not called the great outdoors for nothing you know?

- Scott Anderson

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Give The Real Heroes Their Due!

Give The Real Heroes Their Due!

To my father, many of my uncles, cousins, former students and countless others who served this nation willingly so that we have the freedom to pursue our dreams and passions, we stand and applaud you on Veterans Day.  May your sacrifice always be given the glory it is due and never be forgotten by future generations!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fall Fishing Feast

Fall Fishing Feast
Fall is a wonderful time of the year.  As the relentless heat of summer turns to the crisp morning chill of autumn, we never want to forget the rod and reel in all the excitement of hunting season.  Fall can be one of the easiest fishing seasons all year and I want to give you a few tips to get the most out of your shortened Saturdays due to the decrease in the length of days.

What is the magic water temperature?  As soon as the water begins to cool, the fish will become more active with vicious strikes on the surface as well as hitting crank-baits, jerk-baits, swim-jigs, soft plastic swim-baits, etc.  However, the giants like it when the water temperature hits 50 and below.  Target flats that range between 3-6 feet or look for the big patch of water with shad rippling the surface.

Gizzard Shad
Gizzard Shad
What do I throw to catch them?  The fall is when the shad begin to school up.  You will find bass exploding on balls of shad and you can fish for them in a number of ways.  This is super fast fishing at it''s finest.  Basically, anything that looks like a shad is a good choice.  Erratic action will trigger strikes regardless of depth but keep in mind monster fish typically prefer to hold in the deeper sections of flats.

Any last tidbits?  Absolutely!  Don't be afraid to experiment.  This is an easy time of the year to get bit so try the weird or ridiculous bait to fine-tune your methods.  Also be mindful of weather systems that are moving in and out.  By timing your fishing excursion to the afternoon a front comes in, you can really catch some of the biggest fish of your life.

Water running off in a lake
Ok, my last tidbit and man is this a doozy.  Look for running water that is coming into a lake or pond after a heavy rain.  I once fished a golf pond that had a large lake to store water that would be pumped and sprinkled over the golf course.  They fed that lake by pumping water into it from spring-fed ponds that were located all over their property.  Standing in one spot with anything shad'ish, I could catch 10-20 bass in an afternoon.  Some of those went as large as 5 lbs or more.  They would lay in that current like slabs of lumber and man was it fun!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Let the Deer Do the Talking

At the end of August, I wrote an article on prepping your hunting site.  At the time, our set up had sound logic and a lot of deer sign to make my friend Kyle and I confident in our decisions.  Below is the diagram from that article that illustrates where we felt I had the best chance of making a good shot on a deer.
Shooting Lanes Diagram
As September turned into October and the season began, things just didn't seem right.  We were no longer seeing deer tracks or signs that they were anywhere close to the attractant we had placed out in the main shooting lane for my spot.  Now we could have let pride get in the way.  I mean a lot of work went into making those shooting lanes and knowing the exact distances.  Or, we could just listen, because the deer were telling us something.  Things had changed and it was our job to figure out what they were trying to say.

White-Oak Acorns
Deer Candy
We regrouped and began to scout our area fresh as if we had never laid eyes on the place before.  Wow, the things we discovered! In the diagram above where it is labeled "Forest" were White-Oak Trees with acorns all over the forest floor.  There were no tracks at the attractant because the deer were passing on it for one of their favorite foods of the year and under the protection of the forest canopy.

"Hey wait, in the diagram there is a big White-Oak right by your stand."  Yes, you're right and White-Oaks are known to produce acorns every other year.  There wasn't an acorn within 40 yards of that tree.

Once in the woods, Kyle discovered a myriad of deer trails that gave us a decent idea where they were coming and going.  Several large scrapes were noted also.  A scrape is a spot in the dirt that a male deer will paw up and urinate in it to tell all the ladies in the area that he is there.  The does will follow suit by also leaving scent in it. It's sort of like a singles bar for deer.  One scrape in particular was located on the equivalent to a deer stop light where different trails all connected at this one point - Bingo!

Scott AndersonIt is truly amazing when you pay attention...right?  The deer were saying hey Bozos, it is the time of year where love is in the air.  It didn't hurt that it also happened to be in conjunction with a buffet dinner of White-Oak acorns.

We set up 15 yards from the scrape and the intersection.  The very first evening in the blind paid dividends.  I thought this was a decent doe, however it turned out to be a button-buck checking the scrape.  We typically do not like to harvest young bucks but it was simply a case of misidentification.  One minute the coast is clear.  The next minute you look up and wow, there is a deer right in front of me.  Shoot Goofy, SHOOT!

The Barnett RC-150 Crossbow performed flawlessly.  The Toxic broad-head passed completely through the deer and he was down within a couple of seconds.  The wound you see in the picture is the entrance.  The exit wound was identical.  It looked as if the deer had been shot with a slug.  These broad-heads are amazing and allow for a very humane death for the animal.  Kyle is a Rage broad-head fan as am I.  But, I like a fixed blade broad-head that flies straight and Toxic does just that. Check the video below for other shooting tests using the Toxic broad-heads.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

AR-15 Gun Guide for the Handicapped Hunter

556 Tactical
Recently I went to an outdoor expo show here in my home-town of Shreveport, LA.  In a nutshell, the show was let's say...lacking.  I am not exactly sure how booths with dresses get allowed into these things where big burly men who are attempting to look like the entire cast of Duck Dynasty are milling about however, I digress.  The highlight of the show for me was meeting Mr. Colin Evans of 556 Tactical.  There booth was a shooters dream.  There were AR-15's and accessories all over their tables with plenty of people to answer everyone's questions.

My brief conversation with Colin that day led to an online interview to give this blog's readers deep insight into the scope and possibilities of what an AR-15 platform can do for you as a disabled or handicapped sportsman.

HCO - In your opinion what is the very best AR-15 configuration for a handicapped or disabled person?

Colin - What is the best is a rather broad question, as each shooters abilities and disabilities will vary, what makes the AR platform unique is that it too can be modified to help adapt and be more comfortable to that shooter than some standard stock over the counter rifles

HCO - Why is the AR-15 platform so good for the handicapped or disabled? 

From Cheaper Than Dirt
556 vs 22 Long
Colin - Going back a bit to question 1, we have the ability to really make these rifle platforms more comfortable for the shooter, another unique part of this as well is the ability to change calibers rather quickly. Changing calibers can be as easy as swapping out the complete upper receiver, with another upper receiver in a different caliber allowing some variations i caliber to fit adequately with the game that is being hunted. For example the 300 blackout has been extremely popular for deer, hogs and coyotes. It's a 30 caliber round in a necked down 223/556 casing. This gives much greater knockdown power than that of the 223/556. Deer hunting is legal and can be done with a 223/556 but shot placement is crucial for larger game.

HCO - What non-AR-15 weapons would you recommend as a gun smith for someone who is handicapped or disabled to give them excellent power to cleanly kill a deer while not having their shoulder severally bruised by the recoil?

Muzzle Brake
Muzzle Brake
Colin - Really again the shooter has to feel and be very comfortable with any weapon he or she might be hunting or just plinking with. It truly will vary by each persons capabilities and limitations. As far as recoil control there are 2 things that can really assist. The first one is a muzzle brake, a muzzle brake does exactly that like a car slowing down, it's reducing the felt recoil by controlling the gasses as the projectile leaves the barrel. Competition shooters are widely known for using brakes to allow them to have faster follow up shots and stay on target eliminating or greatly reducing recoil and muzzle rise.  Keep in mind that a trade off with a muzzle brake is the reduced recoil the flip side of that is the sound is increased dramatically towards the direction of the shooter and those in the immediate area of the shooter. Hearing protection while it always should be a must hunters sometimes tend to slip on that, with a brake, it will only take a hunter one mistake of no ear protection to ever not forget them again. Personally I use electronic ear muffs, they can amplify sounds around you and the moment the firearm is engaged in a target the sound is closed and the shooter does not have his hearing compromised.

Second, which was just made legal this year for hunting is a suppressor. While the movies portray these as quiet assassin killing mechanisms it's not quite the case (again it's the movies). Personally I hunt hogs with a suppressor, for two reasons, one is ear protection, with a suppressor I do not have to worry about my head getting rattled and the inner ear ringing from shooting within the confinement a of a deer stand which amplifies sound tremendously, the second is recoil management as it greatly reduces recoil (I use a 308, 6.5 Grendel, 300 blackout or 6.8 spc typically and in AR platform), let me add one more one of my shots is 300 yards from gun to feeder, at that distance with a suppressor the sound is dampened quite a bit and can allow me to take down more than one hog.

Impressive information from 556 Tactical and Colin Evans.  If you would like to contact them directly, feel free to call them at 318-347-4855 or visit their website.  He can help get your custom rig ordered, set-up and tuned to you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Deer Calls for the Disabled or Handicapped

Whitetail Hunting Calls
Whitetail Hunting Calls
Depending on your limitations, making the right calls at the right time can be a difficult task.  A sound can prove very powerful to get a deer's attention and move them closer to you for the shot. In my situation, I have lost facial muscles that will not allow me to pucker or purse my lips to make a decent call. Fortunately, technology has made this much easier.

Whether your an iPhone or Android user matters not.  In both of their stores are many different call makers that you can download for free or pay for.  After downloading 4-5 different apps and testing them, I settled on Whitetail Hunting Calls for my Galaxy S3.  With the volume turned up, it is loud enough to get the right response.  It is also available in iTunes store Click Here.

It is a simple and straightforward app to use.  Each call is defined and gives you exactly what it says.  I would encourage you to either research the best times to use each call or ask someone who is very knowledgeable on the subject.

One final note on the subject of calls, make sure that it is legal to use calls in your area.  No one wants the uncomfortable visit from Mr. Game-Warden and the very pricey fine that comes along with his presence.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Underwater Wheelchair - No Limits

This weeks article features a break from the norm which I like from time to time.  A friend and fan of the Blog shot me a link to this amazing woman who has a self-propelled wheelchair that functions underwater...mind-boggling!!!

Sue Austin
Sue Austin
Welcome to center stage, Sue Austin.  She is a performance artist in the United Kingdom and loves to scuba.  She has created a movement of sorts called "Freewheeling" that is in a word - AWESOME!  Refusing to simply accept the label "disabled" she strives to integrate the disabled world with the able-bodied and erode the differences...Bravo!  To check out more on her initiative Click Here.

Now to the fun stuff.  She has taken a basic push chair and paired it with a propulsion system and two large Plexiglas wings which she manipulates with her feet and quite literally flies through the water.  Add the scuba tanks and she is off and swimming at her leisure.
Under Water Wheelchair
Under Water Wheelchair

For years I have dreamed of things like this.  I love Cozumel and with 200 feet visibility you do not exactly want to be tethered to someone else.  Safety is an issue for me as I could easily wind up in South America or Texas depending on the currents.  So, a chair like this would just be amazing.

Sue Austin Freewheelin
Thanks Sue for not stopping on your passions and for having the guts to advance and overcome.  Hopefully in the future we can get the exact specs on the chair out to you guys on how to pick one up.

The Word of God says that "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."  I like the fact that this woman has done something.  She didn't sit around and wait for it.  She got off her but (pun intended) and made up her mind that she was not willing to give up something she loves.  You can tell by the photos that the experience is simply thrilling for her.  And she compels all of us to go for it.  Whatever is in your heart - chase it!

She is sharpening us.  The next question is what about you?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

First Day of Bow Season Success

One of my favorite former students bagged a big boy on the first day of bow season using the Barnett RC-150 Crossbow featured in a previous article on this blog.  Great job Scotty and wow what a nice buck taken in a very public wildlife management area!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Life or Death – The Right Mosquito Repellent

To a mosquito, I am the equivalent of a flesh-flavored Popsicle.  If there is one of these holy terrors within an acre of me, I will get bit.  Anyone else have this amazing talent?  All over North America these buzzards of the bayous have wreaked havoc on hunters and fisherman alike.  Tics and mosquitoes are typically more lethal than many apex predators when it comes to humans world-wide.

Mosquito Life-Cycle
Mosquito Life-Cycle
Let’s start with some facts!  First of all a mosquito on average has a life-cycle of about 10-20 days.  They get all their business on the reproduction end done quickly.  The males feed on plant nectar and it is the females who do the real devastating as they require a blood meal to reproduce the 100-200 eggs they will lay.  The females are attracted to your heat signature, your sweat and the CO2 you put off.

How many of you have heard someone say, “Boy, I sure hope we get a cold winter to kill the mosquitoes!” BAD ANSWER!  Mosquitoes have the amazing ability to simply stop their development until conditions are more favorable whether being completely frozen or too dry.  This is why in places like Minnesota or Alaska, snow pack does not equate to low mosquito populations.  In the south when we have a dry spell, the mosquitoes seemingly go away.  In reality, it only takes one decent rain shower and they are all back completing their process again.

So the real question is how can we protect ourselves without ruining our scent while deer hunting?  Two schools of thought say go odorless protection or something that protects but also give off a natural scent.  Let’s take a look at these two lines of thought.

Camp #1 – Odorless

Coleman Skin Smart
Coleman Skin Smart
There are many different products to choose from when looking for a spray or squirt repellent but not many of these are odorless.  The products I introduce here are known to work but I cannot guarantee success for you individually.

Cutter Skinsations Ultra Light says it is an odorless type of spray on repellent.  It is non-greasy and allows your skin to breathe.  Active ingredient is Picaridin which is nice due to the health concerns Deet has caused over the years.

Coleman makes a line of products called Skin Smart.  It too is Deet free with the active ingredient being Picaridin.  It is odorless but does have an aerosol smell as it comes out of the can but that goes away quickly.  It too is non-greasy and boasts 8 hours of coverage.

Sawyer's Permethrin
Sawyer's Permethrin
Permethrin – This stuff is fairly amazing.  You spray it on your clothes (NOT YOUR BODY) and let it dry before putting your hunting clothes on.  It is designed to work for up to 6 washings.  The warnings are quite frightful for Permethrin.  Things like do not let it touch your skin, come in contact with any part of your body, etc.  It doesn't repel kills!  As a father of a 2 year old, I simply cannot risk the hazards.  If you have the ability to control the substance, this stuff works.  Be diligent to follow the instructions.  We don’t want stuff to start rotting off your body…right?

Camp #2 – Natural

There are a myriad of natural insect repellants.  Some work better than others and you should test for yourself if all natural is the way you want to go.  Most anything herbal is not going to be overly offensive to deer particularly if the smells are natural to your area already.

Cutter makes a Natural Repellent with theactive ingredients: Geraniol (5%), Soybean Oil (2%), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (.4%), Potassium Sorbate (.1%)

A new-comer I found while doing the research is called Insect Defend Patch.  It uses Thiamine (B1) technology to give you a shield of natural protection lasting a whopping 24-hours.

All Terrain makes a repellent called Herbal Armor with the active ingredients: Oil of Soybean 11.5%, Oil of Citronella 10.0%, Oil of Peppermint 2.0%, Oil of Cedar 1.50%, Oil of Lemongrass 1.00%, Oil of Geranium 0.05%.  Not sure how the deer will take this concoction.

Another great option is Thermacell.  This tried and true repellent uses a small butane chamber to heat a scented pad that mosquitoes hate.  Hunters mostly use the earth scent to keep the deer from catching a strange scent.  It gives 15 square feet of coverage and can run for 12 consecutive hours using the extra butane tubes and pads.  One note of interest with Thermacell is that when in a ground blind you can begin to taste the stuff if you run for a good while.  Be sure to turn it off and allow some fresh air in from time to time.

Be safe from the real predators and happy hunting!

References - Mosquito Facts – Wikipedia -

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Covering Your Scent

A Deer's Nose
Deer season is almost here.  You have worked hard.  You have prepped your site and you are confident in making the shot when it presents itself.  You get inside the blind to wait for the deer to show up that you have documented on the trail cams and what happens…nothing.  Why? Did you think of covering your scent?  Oops.

A deer has about 297 million olfactory receptors in their noses.  In contrast, a dog only has about 220 million of these receptors(*).  A deer can smell you long before they can see you if you are upwind.  Since you cannot control wind direction, you are going to need some help to make yourself scent-invisible and maybe, just maybe, use their incredible sense of smell to bring them to you instead of pushing them away.

To, turn the table on the deer there is a wide array of scent blockers on the market today.  Standing in the aisle at your local Bass Pro or Cabela’s can be overwhelming at the choices available on this one topic alone.  They also offer entire clothing lines now that aid in masking your scent.  I hear yah! I am not making the picture any clearer right?  Sit tight and it will make sense.

Scent-A-Way Family of Products
Scent-A-Way Family of Products
My wife’s brother, Kyle, is a firm believer in scent control.  He is borderline fanatical about it which I happen to enjoy.  From washing your clothes to washing Yo’Self, Kyle believes in being odor neutral.  He also likes some of the products who seem to be a bit more proud than I prefer.  After doing some research, I landed on using Scent-A-Way.  It’s proven.  It’s easy.  And, you guessed it, it’s cheap – LOL!

Kyle likes to use a product called Nose Jammer.  It is a botanical mix that causes a deer’s nose to go into over-load and not smell you.  While his mind will be attempting to sort out the different flowers that he smells, your scent never get’s picked up.  We spray it on my wheel-chair's wheels and frame so that wherever I go, they never pick up the smells my tires might have from the house.  The stuff smells great even to me and I do agree with him on one use for it to draw the deer in - more on that in a minute.

To truly cover yourself you should really start with, wait for it.... yourself.  Scent-A-Way makes a body-wash/shampoo that will get you clean without all the extra smell.  I even bought their antiperspirant/deodorant which is also odor neutral.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
Next washing your clothes can help.  You don’t want to walk into the woods with a loud Gain or Tide smell to travel through the forest essentially screaming to every deer in the near 50 acres to run like a scalded dog.  Again, the options here are plenty.  I actually agree with Kyle on this topic.  He washes his clothes with Baking Soda.  It cleans and kills odors which is the goal right?  It is also super dirt cheap.  He even sticks his clothes in a plastic bag with baking soda to keep them odor controlled throughout the week.

Okay so you have everything covered and the deer can’t smell you which is a good thing.  Early in the article, I mentioned a way to use their sense of smell to lure them in…remember?  I want to revisit that and give you a tremendous leg up.  Deer can be conditioned like any other animal or human for that matter.  In psychology class, I remembered the studies done by a famous psychiatrist named Pavlov.  He placed a bowl of food down for a dog but would first flip a switch on a light bulb.  The dog became conditioned that every time he saw the light even in the absence of the food, he began to salivate as if food was available right then.

Nose Jammer Products
Nose Jammer Products
We began using Kyle’s Nose Jammer botanical spray in the same way.  The smell is strong and pungent.  It fills the woods quickly.  So every time we poured fresh corn in the feeder or placed other deer attractants out, we were sure to spray this stuff around the area.  So that when the deer smell this scent they would relate it to food or some other goody that we had left for them.

In this way, we are readying the deer for the day that we are there for the hunt.  They will have smelled this odor many times.  Each time they have sensed this odor, it was a positive for them by way of something they needed.  In short, I am gaining the edge on the wary deer.

Now, for everyone who would object to this method as not being a fair-chase practice, I would remind them that we are doing this in my hunting area on private property.  As a wheel-chaired sportsman, I don’t have the luxury of chasing a deer all over God’s creation in a fair-chase format.  I applaud all the hunters who do and wish you the very best in this deer season.  Give me some grace too huh?  This way we can all enjoy the great outdoors, together!

* Information on deer senses was collected from this Article

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

All-Terrain Wheel-Chairs

Logs, rocks, ruts, mud, brush, the great outdoors can be demanding and the basic fact is the majority of wheelchairs offered in the mainstream simply do not cover the demands placed on them by wild nature.  It is the jumping off point.  To truly get off the pavement and to get into primal wilderness requires particular tools to make that jump.  This week’s article will hopefully give you insight into some of those tools at a price-point you can live with.

Let me be frank, there are other options than the ones provided in this article; everything from home-made to uber-sophisticated international models.  I recognize I am only giving you a slice and not the whole enchilada.  However, what I am giving you is what some consider the best options available.  So, take it for what it’s worth – ka’peesh?

Scott and Stephanie Anderson on a BeachScoot
Scott and Stephanie Anderson on a BeachScoot
At the lowest cost is The Beach Scoot.  Priced at $7,900 it is your basic 4 wheeled (back wheel drive only) scooter with bigger tires that help you stay above the sand, mud and brush.  I have personally used one of these at the beach and they do work.  Battery life was limited due to the sand.  Terrain and body weight will always dictate the length of a charge.  On solid ground, I am certain that the length of the charge would have been substantially better.  I did get stuck in the sand once or twice but at the price, it is a serious option.

Next up is the Action Track Chair and they offer a couple of options.  As the name of the chair mentions, this is a tracked chair and can take on almost anything Mother Nature throws at it from the beach to the forest.  They have a sit down model with a base price of $10,200 and a stand up version with a base price of about $15,000 that allows a paraplegic to raise up into a standing position.  The chairs come with an awesome 5 year warranty on the frame and the tracks.  I spoke with the dealer for my area, Mr. Doug Carlson of Carlson Mobility in Austin, Texas, about this chair and he is arranging for me to test it in the near future.  Doug mentioned that one of the unique characteristics of this chair is that it has the ability to tilt backwards or forwards twenty degrees for riding on sloped terrain as well as for comfort.  The company offers a mind-boggling 26 different accessory options that are available to add to the base price to help with any of your outdoor needs.

The next chair in the line-up is the Trac-Fab.  The company offers two different models.   The first which is 36 inches wide has a starting price of $12,000.  They also offer an ADA compliant model which is 30 inches wide and can navigate through the vast majority of indoor obstacles as well as outdoor terrain too.  Price of the ADA compliant chair is $14,000. They even show pics of it exiting a vehicle which is an interesting twist as most of the others simply will not fit into an accessible van comfortably.

Last up is a real monster!  It’s called the RipChair 3.0.  Yes it’s tracked but that is where the similarities end.  You roll your wheelchair into the bay and lock in.  You then crank the 30 horsepower, 4 stroke gas engine and away you go!  Due to the fact that it is gas operated means you are guaranteed to not be limited by weight and terrain as in a battery operated electric chairs.  They even have accessories like a snow plow or a mowing deck!  Whuuut...are you kidding?  No!  Top speed is 17 mph.  So, you are asking what this bad boy will run you, right?  I couldn’t get them on the phone the day I wrote this article but I have been told that the base price is at or above $27,000.  Hey if you have the cash, get the Cadillac. Know this though, the specs of this chair demands that you are going to have to put it on a trailer just like you would any other ATV.  But, everything in a man says, “GIVE IT TO ME!” it will go where no one in a wheelchair has ever gone before.  It truly is one small step for man and one giant leap for a person in a wheelchair.

I wanted to end this article by thanking all of you for your loyalty in reading it each week.  Due to your diligence is now in the number one position on Google when you search for it.  Yes, that's a big deal and I owe it all to you – Thanks!

Scott Anderson

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Creating An Inexpensive Shooting Platform

One of the things that a hunter should take seriously is the actual spot that they will be sitting and shooting from.  All the preparation in the world will not result in success if you cannot take the shot with confidence when it avails itself to you.  Taking the time to do this bit of diligence, can save you from a heart full of frustration if you have full use of your body.  Iff you are in a wheelchair, it is critical.  The real trick is to do it without breaking the bank and today I am going to show you how to do just that.

Shooting PlatformLet’s start with a platform.  It doesn’t matter if you are choosing to have your blind up off the ground a bit or directly on it, you need to think about the ease of moving your chair around and how much noise this may make. For the sake of the article, I am going to use the example of sitting at ground level.

A simple solution that is prefabbed, strong, and durable is pallets.  These amazing structures are used by all kinds of companies in receiving products and can hold amazing amounts of weight.  They are also FREE!  That’s what I’m talking about right?  We found a fresh looking pallet that measured 4ft X 6ft as the base for the shooting platform.

Scrap Wood
A problem that pallets present is that they have gaps.  This is quickly resolved by adding discarded pieces of quarter inch plywood or particle board that you collect over time.  If you don’t have any around the house, just start asking people.  Just about everybody has a small amount of wood lying around that they are never going to use and will gladly give it to you.  We also added a piece of plywood as a ramp for getting on and off the platform easily.  An important point here is that the entire top of the pallet doesn’t necessarily have to be covered.  Test it and make sure that you can maneuver with ease on what you have added.  Whatever works for you right?  So long as there was a large area in the center that was covered, the edges didn’t exactly matter to me.  All I really wanted was a nice level area to place my shooting tripod on and the ability for me to make a minor adjustment with my chair if necessary.

Adjustments and deer do not exactly mix.  Deer have almost super-hero hearing and are rather skittish if they hear metal on metal.  That isn’t exactly a natural sound you know? Solution, a friend had some old carpet from when his house was built.  We placed it on top of the plywood pieces to add a layer of quiet between my chair and the platform.  This also helps with any small gaps that irregular shaped plywood pieces may create and allows the wheelchair to roll smoothly without dipping into a gap.  Go to a local warehouse that sells carpet and ask for remnants that have been cut.  Many times they will give this stuff away and I love me some free!

Have you ever noticed tennis balls on grandma’s walker?  They do this so that the walker is easier to move around.  I added them for a two-fold reason.  True, it does make the tripod easier to slide inside the blind.  But, even more important is it gives your tripod some stealth because you can move it with almost zero noise.  I asked the tennis coach at the High School where I teach if he had any old tennis balls.  He gave me a whole bag...for free.  Are you picking up on the theme yet?

Once we had the platform assembled, I got on it and my buddy placed the blind over me.  We made sure to adjust it so I had ample view of my shooting lanes.   This way I know what to expect instead of guessing when the shooting is for real.  It is wise to even take some practice shots from your platform so you are super-confident. Now all we have to do is wait for the season to open.  I can make a good shot with confidence.  If I have to make a small adjustment, I am also confident of a greater chance of not being detected.  A platform also helps keep my wheelchair up out of the mud as the fall rains come in.  You can use these same ideas to build something up off the ground but it may cost you a little more than free!

- Scott Anderson

Monday, September 1, 2014

Shooting System for the Disabled Hunter

Handicapped Outdoors

Jeff Malloy
Jeff Malloy before accident
Jeff Malloy was working on his house in 2004 as a young man of 24 years old when his accident took place.  The avid outdoorsmen was standing on a ladder when in one tragic moment, he became a quadriplegic with a C3/C4 injury.  As anyone can imagine learning to deal with life in a wheelchair is brave enough, but after 5 years of being removed from his passion of hunting, Jeff determined in his heart to get back out there in 2009.

He started by going back to college to learn engineering (wow right?) so he could design things on an CAD software.
 Ok, a quick side-bar here -  Just for Jeff to do this part of his story is enough to make anyone want to stand up and applaud the guy.  Engineering isn't exactly the program for the faint of heart.  However, when you want to do something bad enough, is there really any obstacles that can stop you, him or me?
Jeff Malloy
Jeff Malloy after accident
Back to the story, He and his friend Ray Kimball collaborated to create a shooting system that he could use.  So, they began searching to see what was already out there.

The good news was that there was a shooting system already created called the SR-77 for a quadriplegic to use.  The bad news is that Bob Bowen, the owner and maker, had packed it in and closed production of the SR-77 platform.

I have noticed in life that this is usually that pivotal moment that separates the winners and the not so fortunate.  Lesser people hit a wall and quit.  Jeff is a champion and quitting was never an option!  So what does a winner do?  He goes straight to the source!  He contacted Mr. Bowen directly and asked for permission to use the SR-77 as the base design for his new shooting system to which Bob graciously agreed.

Equalizer Shooting System
Equalizer Shooting System
So what started out as a personal mission, quickly became something much, much greater.  They took the old SR-77 design and transformed it from a Subaru to a Cadillac.  Once a prototype was finished, Jeff and Ray knew they couldn't withhold this new system from other hunters who had suffered injuries that it could help.  So the Equalizer Shooting System was born. It has a flat black anodized finish along with over 60 custom machined parts. All these things combined make this system very durable, reliable and user friendly.  If anything does happen to break down, all of the parts are replaceable.  There are also many different options available for customization including Sip-and-Puff shooting for those who require it.

The next generation of the Equalizer Shooting System happened when it was combined with an iPhone application called the iScope.  This application allows you to use the camera on your phone to look through the scope and give you greater accuracy.  It also allows a hunter to record their hunts which is incredible.  It is made to fit both iPhone and Android smart phones.

Jeff admitted to me that he actually doesn't make much profit on the platform as the majority of the cost goes into the building of the application itself.  So, not only is he brave and smart but he is also un-selfish.

Here is a video of the system in action:

Jeff Malloy, I salute you amigo. May you have an epic 2014 hunting season and thanks for your contribution to all of us who are mobility impaired to place the cross-hairs on not just an animal, but the memory of a life-time!

- Scott Anderson

Monday, August 25, 2014

Prepping Your Hunting Site for the Wheelchair Hunter

This week’s article can mean the difference in whether you make a successful shot on that trophy buck or go through the remainder of the winter kicking yourself for what might have been.  There are enough variables that go into hunting an animal that smells everything, hears very well and spooks as easily as a White Tail. Site prep can at the maximum slant some of those variables to your favor if not at least level the playing field for the wheeled sportsman.

If the land you are hunting is really good, then it is also typically on the wilder side.  The place I am hunting this year was at one time a place where a family kept horses.  It has been two years since the horses have been on their place and the fields and groves have done exactly what God intended, they have taken over!  This leads to our first tip and goes for anyone whether disabled or not – only change what is absolutely necessary.  You do not want to make an overwhelming change to a deer’s environment.  Error on the side of the minimalist here.  We cut one main trail so I can get my wheelchair in and out with relative ease.  We will maintain this pathway until about mid-September and then not mow again until after the season is over.

The people who own the place offered to have it bush-hogged but we declined.  A major change would have been too much for the deer to feel comfortable in continuing to move through these fields have been doing.  The grass is about three and half to four feet tall.  This was going to be impossible for my chair to move through and as mentioned in last week’s article, I did get seriously stuck.  The flip side of this is the grass also showed very clearly where the deer had been moving through.  It provided them the cover they needed to continue to range all over this property.  Never take away the very thing that gives them that sense of security.  You want them to feel secure and confident.

Illustrated by Scott Anderson
The illustration above shows you my setup and kill zone.  The trail we cut into the grass from where we park runs right up to where my ground stand will be placed.  We then mowed a shooting lane through the tall grass to the spot we have viewed deer sign and trails.  In the picture, you see the forest, the field and then the big White Oak tree with Crab-Apple trees all around it.  Several of the apple bushes had been cleared in the lower levels and it was apparent that this would be a great spot for me to setup.  Deer love White-Oak acorns which should begin to drop in early October.  We are hoping that this will be the natural lure to bring them calling.

Shooting lane with Decoy
Again choosing to leave some natural environment, we did not mow the side lanes in the illustration above.  Instead, we simply ran over these with the mower to press the grass down some for a better view and possible shot.  With a crossbow or regular bow, the closer the shot the greater chance for a direct hit to the vitals and to humanely take the animal.

Anything else after we have created the trails and shooting lanes?  Absolutely!  For some strange reason, there always seems to be a difference when you move from the practice range to shooting with big trees, open fields.  The different objects that you have become accustomed to where you have been practicing are all gone and so is yardage clues.  It is critical to take a target to your hunting location and actually take some shots and see what subtle difference there may be.  Range your shots and be certain of your distances.  Is the ground rising or falling?  Is it a side hill, uphill or downhill shot?  All of these factors are variables in making great shots.  The good news is these are all variables that can be known with some practice and diligence.
Grouping at 35 Yards

Lastly, it will be critical to give your area a break for a good week or two before season starts.  It allows the deer to move naturally and lessens your scent in the area. This last point means you only have a few weeks left from the time of publishing to when the season starts depending on your State to get your site prepped.  So, get to krack-a-lackin people.

So lets recap – Prepping a site is important but be sure to not over do it.  Stage the area so that the deer are still moving naturally to a position you have ranged and have practiced shooting to so that you are completely comfortable with making THE shot.  Leave your area quiet a good week or more before season starts.  Go get‘em folks and please share your successes at our new Facebook Page!

- Scott Anderson