The perfect hunt

It was the fourth morning of a fully-guided bow hunt in Minnedosa, Manitoba. Mike had tagged out a few days earlier on a dandy 11-pointer with gnarly dark antlers and then offered to man a video camera in hopes of capturing my hunt on tape.

Our guide was Ernie Noordenbos of Little Saskatchewan Outfitters. Both Ernie and his son, Kevin, are disabled - Ernie from a fall while working as a heavy equipment mechanic and Kevin from a car accident that left him comatose and then with a life-altering brain injury.

Ironically, it was our disabilities that brought us together.

Because of his personal experience and family history, Ernie believes strongly in helping those with physical limitations. For this reason, he offers discounts to members of the Physically Challenged Bowhunters Association, of which I am a member.

It was this common affiliation that led to me booking a hunt with Ernie, and I've been two years waiting anxiously to make it happen.

Because of my left hand paralysis, Manitoba also gave me the opportunity to use a crossbow during its regular archery season.

New York is not as permissive with the use of crossbows among its state's disabled hunters - only paraplegics who fire with assistance from a blow tube are allowed to use them during our archery season.

We saw 17 deer the first day in Manitoba, which was capped by Mike downing his largest buck ever with a bow, or any other firearm for that matter.

Then, a nasty cold front weather forecasters compared to a category three hurricane settled in bringing sleet, snow and 50 mph wind. Needless to say, deer activity tapered dramatically and I was beginning to question my chances of filling my tag.

That is, until the heavy eight made an appearance.

But, the deer had vanished into the same thick underbrush from which it appeared, and for what seemed an eternity neither Mike or I could find his dark outline.

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