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Adapting Backcountry Gear and Perceived Limitations to Accomplish a Dream Hunt

A special dream hunt, combined with some innovative adaptive hunting gear for disabled youth, forever changed my family’s ability to enjoy the outdoors together.  It isn’t often that someone or something comes into your life and creates a seismic change.  My son Asher was born 18 years ago at 25 weeks, weighing dangerously little at just under 2 pounds.  His obstacles started at birth, where a stroke left him with Cerebral Palsy and Hydrocephalus.    

Like you, our family loves the outdoors.  We hunt, fish, and enjoy anything outside.  Asher has made tremendous strides throughout his life, and always does his best to participate.  I’m not here to sugarcoat things, so I’ll admit his physical challenges make it frustratingly difficult for him.  This is where our story takes a turn, and the generosity from the hunting community transforms our world.

Recently, I received a call from Derek Fussell at Camo Dreams, Inc.  Derek has dedicated his life to taking kids with disabilities or illnesses on hunting and fishing trips.  He partnered with amazing people who donate their time, land, and adaptive shooting equipment to enable anyone, regardless of their physical ability, to go on a dream hunting trip.  My son was invited to the panhandle of Florida to hunt for whitetail and red deer hind.  At first, I wasn’t sure how this would go.  Asher has joined me and his brother on hunts in the past, but always as a spectator.  Even though my head was filled with doubts and questions, as a dad, it made my heart swell to know this time it was going to be all about him.  From the minute we arrived, Derek and his team made us feel like family.  

When your son has special needs and can’t just pick up a rifle like we do, you’ve got to think out of the box on how to create a way for him to shoot. Derek showed us his specialized rifle with a suppressor and some adaptive hunting gear from Spartan Precision Equipment.  As a certified gear-junkie, I’ve scoured the Internet for equipment that could make it easier for Asher to support the rifle and shoot, but I had never come across this.  When we got to the custom Redneck Blind, they had attached Spartan’s Mr G Clamp with a Davros Head to the window.  We popped the magnetic adapter from the forend of the rifle onto the adapter from the Davros Head, which took 2 seconds, and the rifle was fully supported.  This clamp system held the rifle steady so Asher could channel all his focus into looking through the scope and pulling the trigger.  I really like the fact that you don’t have to permanently modify the gun, and one adapter works for all of their products. Hunters of every ability could use this system to make steadier shots from a blind.

With his rifle supported by the Mr G Clamp, Asher takes aim through the scope

The custom 6.5 Creedmoor from Best of the West was the perfect complement to the Spartan system. With the confidence he got from the mount, and recoil reduction from the suppressor, Asher was able to harvest his first animal all by himself. The enormous smile plastered across his face spoke volumes.  That was a moment this father and son team will never forget.  Thanks to creative thinking from Derek, not only did Asher participate that day, but I found out how to make future hunts attainable for my son.  

Now that I was going to be able to have Asher hunt on our lease, my mind began to race with ideas.  Before we even got back home, I went online and ordered the gear that helped make this dream come true.  It turns out we weren’t done with the surprises.  A few weeks later, I attended the SCI Annual Convention and saw that Spartan was an exhibitor.  I quickly found my way to the booth to tell them how much I loved their products, and show them pictures of Asher harvesting his first animal.  I explained that even though the lightweight gear was designed for backcountry hunters, it also worked so well for a disabled hunter in a blind that I ordered the exact same equipment we used with Derek.  Their manager Hannah then told me she was going to refund the cost of the purchase, because the company is just happy they could help.  I was blown away!  

The successful hunter posing for a smile with the red deer hind, kneeling next to his rifle with a Javelin Pro Hunt Tac bipod

Oftentimes, seismic changes are started by small shifts.  The kindness of Camo Dreams nudged us to try a hunt with Asher that we didn’t think was possible.  Through this adventure, we met someone who had experience with repurposing backcountry hunting products to be adaptive, solving another one of our barriers.  Now Asher can actively participate in hunting and target shooting with us all.  If a whole new world of family bonding activities isn’t a seismic shift, I don’t know what is.

WORDS BY: Howard

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