This week’s Challenge of the Hunt Video blog comes from Intrepid Outdoors Lead Video Editor Wade McMillin, who helped document the Physically Challenged Bow Hunter of America’s Antelope hunt in Gillette, Wyoming.
It’s truly amazing what outdoorsmen will do for each other every fall hunting season. I’m not talking about letting your buddy borrow some ammo or going out and sighting in your weapon with a friend, but rather a special organization that goes above and beyond to help their fellow hunters.
The Physically Challenged Bow Hunters of America is an organization that works closely with hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and disabled individuals to introduce or help out new or experienced bow hunters who have handicaps. The organization was founded in 2003 and coordinates different hunting events to help disabled people enjoy the outdoors. In 2012, Intrepid Outdoors documented Gillette, Wyoming’s PCBA event, which was a three to four day Pronghorn hunt in the Northeast corner of the Cowboy state. Myself and fellow video editor Mike Hanich met the volunteers of the 11th annual Pronghorn hunt and were touched by their generosity and care.
“We’re volunteers to help these guys get out that have never been able to Antelope hunt or even have a chance to do something like this,” Gillette hunt coordinator Remi Haines said. “Some of them are in wheelchairs. Some of them just can’t get around real well.”
Haines is a seasoned hunter who has been helping the PCBA’s cause in Gillette since its inception in 1993. His duties as a hunt coordinator are to find landowners who are willing to let attendees hunt on their property. Haines and many others also organize guides, ask for donations and contributed prizes, which are given to participants.
“I get more of a charge watching somebody else anymore, especially somebody that has a disability to go out and harvest an animal,” Haines said. “I get more of a charge out of that than when I used to get out and do it myself.”
The “head volunteer” is Tim Norton, a Gillette resident who has been helping host the Pronghorn event for 11 years. Norton was a very busy man for four days, but like Remi, he takes a certain pride in helping those less fortunate. He is also touched about how the community of Gillette has supported the cause for more than a decade.
“There’s been a lot of people that come out of the closet and just really open their land to us,” Norton said. “Just every way possible (they help), volunteering and they’ve really come a long way and Gillette has supported us 100 percent since the first day.”
Before we made our journey to Gillette from our homes in Cody, Wyoming, I spoke with Norton about the details. He said that hunters come from all over the country and the PCBA and some other local efforts will even help to find a way to fly some hunters in. Norton also said the success rate is close to 100 percent every year and that the whole operation has ran smoothly since Gillette began hosting its Pronghorn hunt.
“All of our people here are volunteers,” fellow hunt coordinator Lee Yake said. “Nobody gets paid. Everybody just loves to do this. They look forward to it each year. It’s a long three or four days, but it’s well worth it in the long run. They (participants) have fun and enjoy it.”
The Gillette PCBA Pronghorn hunt begins with the attendees practicing with their weapons at Rocky Mountain Sports. Many of 2012’s participants were in wheelchairs and others had missing limbs. Whatever their disability was, the PCBA has ways to cater to them and the Gillette coordinators were very helpful.
“We have adaptive equipment to help people with one arm or no arms, shooting with mouth tabs and (we help) people in wheelchairs,” Norton said. “It’s an organization to give people a chance to get out and bow hunt like they did before or if its something new.”
After the hunters practice, they meet at a church for dinners where they congregate and get instructions for the following day, which is when the hunt begins. Mike followed one hunter into Gillette’s flat land, but the pair ran out of time to get a kill on film. I stayed back at the church, fighting off a nasty sickness, but I witnessed many happy hunters come back with stories and trophies from their successful outings. Those smiles and the feeling of helping out their fellow man is the sole reason why the volunteers of the PCBA offer their own time each and every year.
“I have (never) been turned down by a landowner,” Haines said. “I have not been turned down by anybody who wants to make a donation. It just seems like everybody you talk to (thinks) it’s an awesome thing we’re doing.”
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