The annual SCI Utah Chapter “Hunts for Warriors” and disabled hunters project was a big success for 2012. Thanks go to the combined efforts of Chairbound Hunters-Utah Chapter (non-profit organization), Safari Club International-Utah Chapter, Garrett Hunting Services, and all the wonderful volunteers who made this an amazing hunt for one wounded war veteran and four chairbound hunters. This year’s project and hunt on included a day-long event for the indigenous and often aggressive hogs in Castle Dale, Utah. It was one of those days when you have to question the weather, and if the unusual sunny and warm day wasn’t for a reason. Being around these brave and dedicated disabled hunters really makes one appreciate what we often take for granted.
The group consisted of approximately 25 people including:
- Ryan Johnson who is quadriplegic from a sports injury 13 years ago. Johnson lives in Orem, UT, is a life-long hunter and a single dad with a 16-year old son.
- Lance Hunt who became quadriplegic two years ago. Hunt is from St George, UT, and was already an expert archer before his accident of rolling a big rig and fracturing his neck and back. He loves all kinds of hunting and is married with children.
- Vance Anderson is paraplegic for more than 40 years is from Ogden, UT. Anderson is an active wheelchair racer, wheelchair basketball player, retired family counselor and now a counselor to younger wheelchair candidates. He is married and has two grown daughters and grandchildren.
- Justin Fuller is paraplegic from truck accident 11 years ago. Fuller is a life-long hunter with the help of family, friends and the Safari Clubs. Fuller is recently married.
- David Gardner is a wounded veteran from Springville, UT. His right leg was amputated in accident in Iraq five years ago. Gardner loves archery hunting and is married with three young children.
Our day began with everyone meeting in the town of Castle Dale, UT, and we were soon off to the hunting location. It was quite the sight to see such a caravan and gathering of 4×4 trucks, 4-wheelers, side-by-sides and a Jeep. Once set up and a general plan devised, the group headed out to scout and locate some hogs. That process did not take long, but considering the nice weather and time of morning, we had to move fast before the hogs were off to bed down.
It took no more than 30-minutes before we located the first two hogs. We sighted them from a higher bluff while scoping the lower terrains. Shortly afterward, our first two hunters were successful in harvesting both animals. During the spot-and-stalk process, the group also managed to spot two more hogs in an upper field. As the two first hunters progressed with their supporting group to get their hands on their downed trophies, we heard the shots of success echo through the valley. Two more hogs were successfully taken.
Next, it was time for David Gardner to make it happen on a spot-and-stalk with his bow. After locating a lone dominant hog in the North field and willows, David was off for the sneak attack. David is very dedicated and convinced it was the hog he wanted. After several methodical and careful stalking maneuvers, David was able to loose his first arrow perfectly broadside. However, it soon became clear the big hog wasn’t going down without a fight. It was not until a few more missed shots, and one more hit that David decided he would have to resort to his rifle, but even the rifle was having a difficult time bringing down the hog. With great enthusiasm and commitment from David, he managed to finally knock the hog down for good. We had five hogs on the ground, and all before noon. When we got back to base camp, Safari Club International provided a great lunch for everyone, stories were exchanged, pictures were taken and then the hogs were transported to the butcher for final processing.
Thank you to our SCI Utah supporters and members, the Chairbound Hunters organization and Owen Garrett for making this project a success. This, along with future projects, clearly displays and renforces the commitment of Safari Club International’s charter and mission; Wildlife Conservation, Camaraderie, and Community Service – Promoting a positive image of hunters and impact to our local community.
Congratulations to our 2012 disabled hunters!