MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When preparing for a bow hunt, the key to success begins with accuracy.
Sending an arrow to target is an exercise in precision, and John Swanson is helping to show it is not a test of physical ability.
“I’m an amputee. My leg was crushed in the Persian Gulf War,” he said.
The loss of his leg created a challenge for the hunting season, but Swanson still found an outlet through UFFDA, the United Foundation for Disabled Archers.
“I was injured and I was looking forward to getting out hunting, and it was one of the ways I could get out hunting,” Swanson said.
Each year, at the end of September, UFFDA hosts dozens of participants for one weekend, giving them access and the resources to bag a deer.
“We’ve got some that are coming from as far away as Cheyenne, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas, California, all over the place,” Swanson said.
Once an attendee, Swanson now helps others take part. He oversees the shooting range, making sure all the participants are proficient in marksmanship.
“When the opportunities are limited, you cherish the ones you do get,” he said. “If I can turn around and make it available to other people, I want to do that.”
Swanson approved Cindy Myhre for marksmanship the first night of the hunt.
“Before I was in a wheelchair, I would hunt, rifle hunt, with my husband,” said Cindy Myhre, who is a participant in the UFFDA hunting weekend.
When a car crash took Myhre’s ability to walk in 2009, it also took her ability to hunt. A friend told her about the UFFDA weekend. She’s been part of the event for the last six years.
“This is the only time I get to go out and hunt,” Myhre said.
Any physical obstacle is pushed aside with the help of guides and local community members like Jeremy Hensel. The two have paired up the last three years awaiting the elusive whitetails.
“I get just as excited watching someone else or helping someone else get a deer as getting one myself, I guess,” he said.
Hensel not only opens up access to his private land and ground blinds, he makes sure Myhre has every possible opportunity.
He stays in the blinds with her, assists with her bow and arrow, and makes sure she stays safe during the hunt.
“They do a lot and they put a lot of volunteer time in, so, it makes you think there’s people out there that care,” Myhre said.
After a weekend of hunting, Myhre left this year without bringing down a deer.
Yet, for her, the take away is bigger than any trophy buck, it’s the reminder that a physical challenge doesn’t have to be a permanent setback.
“Just having the outreach of being outdoors and the adventure,” Myhre said.
The hunt takes place near Park Rapids.
The UFFDA organization covers the cost of the hunting weekend.
To learn more, click here.