Philanthropic hunting

Two groups in Craig are ensuring that hunters with disabilities have a chance to target trophies, too.

Partnering with nonprofit Outdoor Buddies for the sixth year, last fall Trapper Mining Inc. brought mobility-impaired and disabled sportsmen on hunting trips near Craig, with three outdoorsmen returning from GMU 13 with cow elk in tow.

Outdoor Buddies began in 1984 as a therapeutic program for hospital patients with spinal cord injuries. It’s now expanded to assist a wider-ranging group of people with disabilities, with members in 39 states. In all, it guided more than 130 one-on-one hunts in 2013.

Executive Director Dwaine Robey has taken people on bull elk hunts in October, but last year decided it would be better to hunt late season for cows. “With the switch, filling tags was no problem at all,” he says, crediting help from Trapper Mine employees Rob Sovine, Shawn and Cutter Polly, Jim and Jesse Hill and Tony Gilroy. The group assisted Jack Fischer, of Colorado Springs, a 90-year-old, wheelchair-bound World War II veteran; Butch Martin, of Fishers, Ind., bound to a wheelchair as a result of an industrial accident; and Westminster’s Ernest Teter Jr., who is legally blind.

Robey has taken Fischer on hunts for six years and says they’re a highlight every year. “Every year, he says, ‘Partner, this is going to be my last year’ because of his age,” Robey says. “He basically lives to get in the outdoors even though he’s wheelchair bound, and this is a great way for him to do it.”

–Nate Waggenspack

Sidebar: Craig’s Safari Club Int’l honored for veteran work

Veterans who like to hunt have a great helping hand in Craig. This spring, after six years of dedication to veterans, the Yampa Valley Chapter of the Safari Club was recognized by SCI for “Oustanding Chapter Leadership in support of veterans.”

The local chapter has worked with the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center for several years to host disabled veterans on antelope hunts in northwest Colorado. “We bring wounded veterans up and take them on an antelope hunt,” says vice-president Craig Rummel. “We take care of the guiding and meat processing. The key is getting them back into the outdoors.”

The efforts don’t go unnoticed. “They get vets back out into the field, which is excellent work,” says Wayne Clark of Denver’s SCI chapter. Adds hunting coordinator Matt Lucas: “You get them outdoors and into a positive environment. All the people I take haven’t hunted since they became disabled, or they’ve never been before.”

—Nate Waggenspack