r Enjoying the outdoors, hunting and fishing is a family tradition passed on from one generation to the next. It becomes part of the family culture. Knowledge, skill and stories of outdoor experiences are passed to the younger generation in the family. It is not just something to do; it is an important part of how the family is raised.
Jesse Cowley is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. He has always wanted to share his interest and excitement as a sportsman with his family. However, his daughter, Missy, was born 12 years ago with spina bifida and cannot use her legs to stand or walk. She has been confined to a wheelchair her entire life. This spring at a hunting expo in Salt Lack City, Missy completed her Utah State Hunter Safety Certificate. Her instructor told Jesse and his wife Cindy about a booth at the expo for the handicapped sportsman.
The Chairbound Sportsman Organization is a Springville, Utah nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization offering free fishing and hunting adventures for disabled people and wounded warriors. Its founder, Kenneth Vaughn, is busy planning events several times a month. Now young Missy and her parents can be involved in special events for people in wheelchairs. Missy went on two fishing trips to Strawberry Reservoir on a pontoon boat designed to carry wheelchairs. The big goal, however, was to take Missy hunting.
Kenneth Vaughn, with the help of Kelly Prestwich the owner of the Big Mountain Hunting Ranch in Elberta, Utah scheduled a turkey hunt and a ram sheep hunt as a one-day special event for Missy Cowley and her family. Missy’s dad had already given her a custom made 6.5 Creedmore rifle in an AR platform and had been target practicing with her. The morning of the hunt Kenneth provided a 20 gauge semi-automatic shotgun for the turkey shot and practiced on a couple targets at 15 and 25 yards. After that, a safety briefing was held and Kelly discussed with the aid of a goat where the ram should be shot to save the trophy head for mounting. Then it was off to the mountain range where Kelly had released a couple of turkeys and a Barbados Ram Sheep.
Arriving at the staging area for the hunt, which was about 4.2 miles from Kelly’s ranch house, two Trackchairs were unloaded. Missy received a little practice in operating the track chair and the turkey hunt began. The turkey could be heard in the quiet of the morning and was soon located. One shot to the head brought down the tom turkey and Austin a friend of the family shot a second turkey. The turkeys were taken back to the staging area, dressed out and put on ice. The big tom weighed about 35 pounds. The Cowley family has their Thanksgiving dinner taken care of.
Next was the hunt to find the ram sheep, which was a little more elusive. Once located the ram was watched for a few minutes, waiting for the ram to have the correct angle for a shoulder shot. Finally, it appeared the ram was in position for a good shot, and Missy triggered the rifle and brought the ram down with one shot at about 90 yards. The excitement that everyone in the hunting party felt and the smile on Missy’s face made it a rewarding experience for everyone. Twelve-year-old wheelchair bound Missy Cowley demonstrated herself as a hunter and now has her own story to add to the family history thanks to the Chairbound Sportsman Organization.
The ram was carried back to the staging area, dressed out and packed on ice in a large cooler for the trip to the meat processing plant. The head will go to a taxidermist to prepare a shoulder mount for Missy’s wall. Kenneth Vaughn presented Missy with a leather-bound diary to record her outdoor adventures and a white tee shirt with the Chairbound Sportsman Logo on it.
This was an amazing day for a young lady who has spent her life in a wheelchair with Spina Bifida. It demonstrates what handicapped people can do and the wonderful service that the Chairbound Sportsman Organization brings to our community. Everyone who helped make this day possible should be applauded.
It should be noted that the turkeys and Barbados Ram Sheep are game animals raised like livestock to be hunted rather than sent directly to a meat packing house.