Texas Wheelchair & Wounded Warrior Hunt

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7th Annual Wheelchair Hunt

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Thanks to the generosity of the Bell family, and donations made to the Low Country Chapter's Disabled Hunter program, three deserving young men enjoyed the hunting experience of a lifetime in Texas during December of 2008.

Our hosts, the Bell family.

The Chapter paid all of the expenses for disabled hunter and Chapter Member, Vijay Viswanathan and his Wounded Warrior friend, Army Sgt. Keith Deutsch, retired, to travel from Colorado to Texas.  Sgt. Deutsch lost a leg after being struck by a rocket propelled grenade while battling insurgents in Tikrit, Iraq.

Sgt. Keith Deutsch, US Army, retired, with his whitetail buck.

The Chapter also bought active duty Marine Corporal Dan Nicholson an airline ticket to travel from the Bethesda Naval Hospital to San Angelo, Texas.  Cpl. Nicholson was severely injured when an IED exploded under his vehicle near Al Karmah, Iraq

Corporal Dan Nicholson, USMC, with his 5 x 6 bull elk.

Texas hunting licenses were purchased for the hunters with donated funds and meat was shipped to Cpl. Nicholson's family home in North Carolina so he could share a venison feast with his family over his Christmas leave from the hospital.

Vijay and Sgt. Deutsch drove home to Colorado with coolers filled with the boned meat from 13 deer.  After sharing some of the meat with friends, Vijay and Keith will be dining on Texas venison for quite a while!

Vijay Viswanathan with his 8 point buck.

This year the Bells have once again extended an invitation for Holly and me to visit their ranch with another group of 3 Wounded Warriors.  We would like to thank the Bells for their continued friendship and support of our Disabled Hunter and Wounded Warrior program.

We would also like to thank all of the individuals who make these programs possible through donations to our Disabled Hunter program.

If you would like to help support these events, please click the link below, print out the form, and mail your contribution to the address provided.

Thank you!

Mark Peterson
Safari Wish & Disabled Hunter Program Coordinator


Donation Invoice Form



Vijay Viswanathan's Hunt Report


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend three days hunting Whitetail and Axis deer on the Windy Ridge Ranch in central Texas. On December 11th I met my good friends Mark and Holly Peterson at the San Angelo Regional Airport along with our hosts Randy and Linda Bell. Also with the Peterson's was Corporal Daniel Nicholson, an active duty Marine who had sustained extensive injuries when his vehicle ran over an IED in Al Karmah, Iraq.

Dan is recently engaged, and lives in Brevard, North Carolina, a town in which many of my own outdoor exploits were based as a young person. I myself had just driven 860 odd miles from Colorado with my friend Keith Deutsch, a retired Army Sergeant who himself had lost most of his right leg to a Rocket Propelled Grenade in Tikrit, Iraq during a surprise attack by enemy forces in 2003.

Having hunted a few times growing up in MInnesota, Keith is a competitive snowboarder, and is currently in the running to be among one of the top three adaptive halfpipe riders in Colorado. I had the opportunity to take a bull and cow elk near Telluride last Fall, and Keith's been itching to go on a hunt with me ever since.

I had the pleasure of meeting Randy and Linda while having dinner with the Petersons at the SCI convention in Reno a few years ago, where I learned of their ranch in Texas and some of the trophy whitetails and exotics they manage there. The Bells invited me out, and I was elated when Mark and Holly contacted me earlier this year about arranging a hunt on their ranch this season.

Driving onto the Bell's property felt more like entering a compound than a ranch, we were greeted by twelve foot high steel gates christened with the brand Windy Ridge Ranch and a pair of  beautifully rendered bucks adorning the gates. The ranch itself is surrounded by a high fence, of course to allow management of the variety of game animals kept there.

Before we even drove onto the ranch there was wildlife action. Deer fled in the headlights and I could already tell there were a lot of deer here. On the drive in, Randy spotted a nice sized bobcat he had snared along his fence line, and asked me to wait by it while he went to get his .22 caliber rifle. I was offered a chance to shoot the cat but gave it to my friend Keith, as I knew he would be more excited to take the animal than I would. Keith put the cat down, and is having the cat mounted life-size, by a friend of mine, Frank Espinoza who owns "Animal Illusions" in Denver. This was the first of two bobcats and a gray fox that would be snared while on the ranch, little did we know we would also harvest a total of 12 whitetail does, 3 bucks, 2 axis does,  1 bull elk, and an Indian Black Buck. Quite a bit of action if you ask me!

I not only want to thank the Bells for their wonderful hospitality, but want to thank all of the Safari Club Lowcountry members who made the hunt possible for the three of us. I know I will think of your generosity every time I open a package of delicious Texas whitetail steaks!

Vijay Viswanathan

Vijay with Chapter Members, Mark & Holly Peterson

Vijay and his hostess, Linda Bell

Dan with his hosts, Randy, Linda & Travis Bell & Rich Jolly

Dan, Keith, Vijay & the Petersons

Dan and Travis skinning Dan's elk.

A typical view of game coming to the feeders.

Dan's whitetail buck.

The bag from a morning's hunt!

Vijay pitches in to help Keith.

Plenty of venison for the freezer.

Whitetail racks at the ranch.

Magnificent fallow deer, axis deer and blackbuck trophies!

Side view.

Texas trophy whitetails!

Side view.

An exceptional trophy buck.

Unusual 3 horned whitetail.

Side view.

Holly and her trophy blackbuck.

Holly and Linda Bell.

Randy Bell and Dan with Dan's axis deer doe.

All of the meat went home with the hunters!

Travis Bell and Dan Nicholson.

Our hosts, the Bell family.


Vijay's Account of Taking a Great Texas Buck

12/21/2008 -- Windy River Ranch Hunt Report          San Angelo, TX

I wasn't too upset, or surprised when news of the fifty-billion dollar Bernard Madoff scandal broke over the news stations that morning in the Bell's hunting cabin, in fact my first thoughts were of how I had become a bit desensitized by the media over the past few months. Today I was more concerned with the weather. It was December 12, my Mom’s and sister Natasha's birthday, and I could NOT forget to call them to see what they were doing on their special day. The forecast looked good, although it was going to be a cold and breezy morning here in Texas.

It had been a hectic few months, we had just elected Barak Obama President, the credit crisis was in full swing, and it looked as if the American auto might soon become a relic of the past. Aside from the general economic woes, I had been desperately searching for work in a town where there seemed to be not one American-born employee, and I found myself blaming Vail Resorts and my paralysis for my misfortunes.

I could see the catalysts for my sentiment, but more importantly felt an appreciation for where I was in that particular moment; watching the sun slowly stretch west over the gentle Texas hill country, revealing an arid and rocky cacti-laden landscape that seemed to roll on forever. It was a chilly December morning, and I felt perfectly comfortable nestled into my winter hunting parka that Cabela's had donated to me for an elk hunt in New Mexico a few years ago.

As the blurs beneath us came into focus I recognized two nice bucks and a gamut of whitetail does milling around the scrub oak and cedar, oblivious to the presence of hunters with high powered rifles and a spotting scope in a tower-blind over a hundred yards away. This morning I was charged with the task of harvesting a management buck, a job I was more than happy to execute. Removing this particular individual from the herd would, in time, improve the genetics of these deer as well as the size and quality of the bucks. I must say it felt different to be hunting particularly to manage a population rather than to take the first legal deer that stepped into my crosshairs. I like the relaxed mood of this type of management, it's a "pressure's off" kind of feeling that gives me time to admire each animal for their unique attributes.

We sit and chat and scrutinize each individual with our binoculars as the sun turns from a faint glow to a vibrant orange, and by around 7:45 AM is just high enough to almost obscure the image of anything through my scope. At this point we've already talked about the quality of the deer moving below, and Travis has analyzed every detail on the two bucks from the darkness of their hocks, to the broken tine on one of their antlers, and the grayness he thinks he sees more of in one's face. It wasn't easy to properly size up an animal from 100 yards away with the sun in your eyes, but Travis had years of experience with the deer at Windy Ridge. I mentioned to him that my vision was getting worse, and that now might be a good time to take one of the bucks.

Travis agreed and I chose the one to my right that had been milling around a particular oak all morning, a little over 100 yards away. The sun was making it very difficult to see the buck clearly, but I knew I had a good shot and the light would only get worse if I waited. I slowly squeeze the trigger and watch the buck flop over and kick twice before he died below the oak. "Good shot!" Mark instantly reassures and congratulates me as I breathe a sigh of relief. There is always stress that comes with the responsibility of taking the life of a big animal like that, and I was relieved to see the deer go down so quickly. I knew what Mom was going to be telling all her friends about all week, and was happy to have a great birthday present for her.

I know it's easy to forget about our troubles when we're up in a blind overlooking a beautiful landscape observing wild game. It can also be easy to forget the resources and generosity that it takes for disabled hunters like myself and my friend Keith to be provided such special opportunities. I want to personally thank the Safari Club Lowcountry Chapter for making this hunt possible, our hosts Randy and Linda Bell for their unrelenting generosity, and of course Mark and Holly Peterson for their friendship and support over the past ten years and especially since my accident. Thank You all so much, I would not have come this far without you.

Vijay Viswanathan



Corporal Daniel Nicholson News Article


Wounded Marines Praise Medical Care, Relate Iraq Experiences

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., April 3, 2008 – Two Marines who were injured in Iraq praised the medical care they’ve received at the National Naval Medical Center here during interviews yesterday in conjunction with a grand re-opening ceremony for their newly renovated outpatient quarters.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Wounded Iraq combat veterans Marine Cpl. Daniel B. Nicholson, left, and Marine Lance Cpl. Michael S. Stilson attend a reopening ceremony for newly renovated Mercy Hall, an outpatient quarters for injured troops on the National Naval Medical Center campus in Bethesda, Md., April 2, 2008. Both Marines praised the quality of medical care provided at Bethesda. Defense Dept. photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Iraq combat veterans Cpl. Daniel B. Nicholson and Lance Cpl. Michael S. Stilson live in Mercy Hall on the medical center’s campus.

Nicholson, a native of Brevard, N.C., joined the Marines in June 2005. The tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile gunner was wounded by a roadside bomb while riding in a truck in Anbar province in November 2006. He suffered injuries to his left arm and face. After arriving at Bethesda a few days after being wounded, he underwent numerous surgeries to repair his broken jaw and lacerated face.

The medical care provided at Bethesda is “tremendous,” Nicholson said.

“The zeal of the staff here at the hospital is just outstanding. … I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he emphasized.

Nicholson said his plans include marriage and going back to school to become a high school history teacher.

Wars have been fought since mankind began, Nicholson said. But war also produces peace, he added. The war against global terrorism is an important endeavor, he said, noting that fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq precludes fighting them at home.

Nicholson said the excellent medical care he has received at Bethesda makes him feel appreciated and that his service in Iraq wasn’t performed in vain.

“What the patients need, they get” at Bethesda, he said.

Stilson, who hails from Clarkston, Wash., was wounded by a roadside bomb while on dismounted patrol in Anbar province in September.

“Every bone in my left arm was broken,” Stilson recalled, noting he’d also suffered severe shrapnel injuries to both of his legs.
Stilson echoed Nicholson’s praise of the medical care provided at Bethesda.

”You really don’t have any other place, I don’t think, that really cares for everybody like they do (at Bethesda),” he said.

Injured Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are getting the best medical care available at Bethesda, and “they do everything they can for the guys that got wounded over there,” the Marine rifleman added.

Stilson, who joined the Marines in August 2006, said he believes the mission in Iraq isn’t completed.

“When you’re there, you want to finish the job for those guys who didn’t make it back,” he said.

Military Connection's Comments:

One year ago flaws in the military medical became a hot topic.  Two Marines recovering at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda MD are praising the medical care they received.  Maine Lance Cpl. Michael S. Stilson and Marine Cpl. Daniel B. Nicholson are staying at the newly renovated Mercy Hall.   Both Marines were wounded in Iraq.  They are grateful to the staff at the Naval Medical Center for their attentive care.   They appreciate the quality of medical care that they have received.   Cpl. Stilson and Lance Cpl. Nicholson are proud of the job our military is doing in Iraq.  They know that the violence will cease, the Iraqi government will mature and that will help to stabilize the Middle East.  Iraq is one step closer in the war on terrorism.


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