r Frank Snyder grew up as an avid outdoorsman with a passion for hunting and fishing. He had a trophy elk head on his living room wall that he shot near Vernal, Utah. The family called the elk “Igor.” Frank looked forward to his hunting and fishing trips every year with his family. Then a tragic accident occurred in 2001. Frank was accidentally electrocuted while working on a high voltage power line. He nearly died. However, he did lose both arms, the right one at the shoulder and the left one at the elbow. He also lost a piece of his skull. It is a God blessed miracle that Frank survived. While in the hospital his house burned down which included the loss of Igor, the elk head. Friends and neighbors built a new house for Frank and his family. The physical and emotional trauma that Frank suffered is beyond our normal world of comprehension. With faith and family, Frank has dealt with most of the challenges. He has adapted well and manages to be active in fixing and inventing things. However, Frank had not been hunting for 16 years, a passion that was important to him.
His son-in-law, Mike Gale, was wondering if there could be someway Frank could go hunting again. Then he heard about Kenneth Vaughn of Springville, Utah who heads up Utah’s Chairbound Sportsman Organization. The mission of this organization is to make the outdoors possible for those with serious limitations, and Wounded Warriors. Their activities include fishing, target shooting, hunting, and other outdoor recreational events. It is an all-volunteer organization to support the cause. Kenneth Vaughn founder of the Utah Chapter of Chairbound Sportsman said “Yes it is possible for Frank Snyder to hunt again” and a plan was set in motion.
One of the Chairbound members is Andy Dahmen who has a special gun mount for his side by side ATV that enables a handicapped person to aim a rifle with shoulder movement. A powered trigger mechanism made by Be Adaptive Equipment of Columbia City, Indiana was loaned by Todd Branin of Richfield, Utah. This device has three components: the electric activator mounts inside the standard trigger guard, the control box that attaches to the stock of the gun by a Velcro strap, and a suction tube that extends from the control box. The user sucks on the tube to pull the trigger. With this set up a target practice day was scheduled for Saturday, December 9, to put Frank behind a gun sight for the first time in a long time. The practice gave him confidence with the equipment and his shooting accuracy was pretty amazing. His first three shots were in the center box of the target sheet.
A week after Frank’s target practicing, on Saturday, December 16, a buffalo hunt had been arranged by Frank’s son-in-law, Mike Gale. The hunt was guided by Hi Country Outfitters Bison & Buffalo Hunts owned by Dick and Elaine Jorgenson of Peoa, Utah. The gun mount and triggering mechanism was installed and checked and Frank Snyder was hunting for the first time in 17 years. Several hours were spent studying the herd, selecting the bull of choice, and waiting for a clear shot. Finally Frank had his opportunity to shoot and the bull dropped to the ground. Our armless hunter shot himself a buffalo. What a neat accomplishment and what a neat smile it brought to Frank Snyder’s face.
Frank’s passion was elk hunting and the buffalo hunt was fun preparation for an elk hunt that was to be planned the fall of 2018. That elk hunt was carried out on August 30 through September 1 on the Royal Rut Ranch, Indian Canyon, Utah owned by Kelly Hymas.
The ranch is 5,600 acres (about 9 square miles) of mountainous land providing a home for a significant heard of privately owned Elk. After a briefing by Kelly Hymas and assignment of a guide, Paul Fritzsche, the hunt for a mature bull elk was on. The hunting party was using ATV’s and a side-by-side with the special gun mount for Frank that he had previously used in the December buffalo hunt. Because of the terrain, the stands of Douglas fir, aspen groves, and alpine meadows, this became a real hunting experience. Late in the afternoon, a magnificent elk was found posing on a hillside. It was a larger animal than expected and the guide commented, “it doesn’t get much better than this.” Frank was positioned to take the shot and brought the elk down. The elk measured an unofficial 414½ points. It was to be a three-day prepaid hunt and even though he got the prize elk he wanted to spend the next two days scouting for elk on the ranch property. He was having the time of his life.
Frank Snyder’s passion for hunting has finally returned after his serious accident in 2001. The idea of a man who lost both arms being able to hunt is amazing and emotionally rewarding for everyone involved and there were a lot of people that made it possible for Frank to hunt again. We need to be thankful that we have people in our community that are dedicated to making lost passions possible again. If you are interested in donating or volunteering or seek help for others such as Frank please look at their website at www.chairboundsportsman.org or facebook at Chairbound Sportsman.
Both the buffalo and the elk were shot on private ranches as game farm animals. Both these ranches have lots of acreage and natural habitat for the animals. These private game ranches provide hunting access for handicapped people that do not otherwise exist. This point alone makes a strong case for private hunting ranches. It should also be noted that these game animals are raised like livestock to be hunted rather than sent directly to a meat packing house.