Oct. 8—LAC QUI PARLE — Lance Tebben was half as successful as last year on the opening morning of the special hunt on Rosemoen Island in Lac qui Parle Lake.
He dropped a stocky, seven-point buck with one shot from his muzzleloader at just a tad over 50 yards on Saturday.
"He went right down," said Chad Albrecht, who witnessed it all while seated next to Tebben in the same blind.
Last year, it was Jeff Bloch who served as Tebben's able-bodied helper. He got to watch it all as Tebben struck a 14-point buck at about 100 yards at the end of the day.
"I was half as successful," laughed Tebben as he and Albrecht told this year's story on Saturday morning.
Tebben was the first to harvest a deer this year in the special hunt that is offered each year for disabled hunters on Rosemoen Island. The roughly 600-acre island is off-limits to all but Minnesota Department of Natural Resource staff at the Lac qui Parle refuge through the year with the exception of this annual hunt in October.
This is the 27th year that Capable Partners, based in Golden Valley has offered the hunt on Rosemoen Island. Volunteers with the group maintain 15 blinds on the island, and serve as able-bodied helpers for the hunters.
Albrecht was the first to spot the buck Tebben would shoot. It emerged from a thicket of willows. "I could see Chad's ears perk up," said Tebben in describing how he first realized a deer was coming into range.
The buck was leading a second, smaller buck. They were on the move.
Albrecht gave a quick bleat, the larger buck slowed and kind of turned, and Tebben fired. "Boom," he said in describing the scene.
This is the 17th year that Tebben, 37, participated in the hunt. He's harvested a deer every year but one, that being 2005.
He arrived for this year's hunt with his own Action Trackchair. It's an electric powered, rubber-tracked chair built in Marshall for use in the outdoors.
The Action Trackchair was presented to Tebben as a gift just a few days earlier at the Watson Hunting Camp. Stanton Kelley, a hunting guide in Texas, had taken Tebben turkey hunting a few years ago. Right after, he started a Go Fund Me campaign to purchase the Action Trackchair for Tebben.
Tebben, who has cerebral palsy, put the Action Trackchair to work. He used it to drag his buck to Albrecht's truck and trailer parked by their blind. "It works slick," said Tebben.
He credits Albrecht with lighting his fire for hunting.
Albrecht credits Tebben for even more. He explained that he likes to bring his friend to the summer stock car races in Montevideo. Doing so made possible his first date with the woman who is now his bride. He invited her along to the races with the two of them, knowing that she'd love to help out. "She went right for it," he laughed.
He turned serious when explaining how he introduced his friend to hunting. A passionate archer himself, Albrecht said it occurred to him that he would certainly appreciate it if someone took him out hunting if he were unable to do so on his own. "So, I thought it would be the right thing to do, to take Lance out," said Albrecht.
"Now he's an addict," he quickly added.
Something of the same could probably be said for many of the hunters in the other blinds on the island. They ranged in age from the young 20's to an 87-year-old, according to Dean Petersen, the hunt's coordinator for Capable Partners. A Dawson native who wrestled and played football for the Blackjacks, Petersen is quadraplegic due to a car accident. Knowing the importance of getting outdoors, he has been part of helping with Capable Partner's work pretty much ever since he learned about it.
"I could care less if I shoot an animal," said Petersen. "It's getting outdoors."
He said that is the sentiment shared by everyone else in the blinds.
All the luck belonged to Tebben on Saturday morning, but others soon got to enjoy the excitement as well. By Wednesday of this week, the hunters had harvested six bucks- three of them "decent-sized" in Petersen's assessment- and three does. All of the hunters have been seeing deer.
Hunters must demonstrate proficiency with the firearm they will use in the hunt to be eligible to participate. A drawing is held prior to the hunt to chose blinds on the opening weekend. After that, it's first come, first served. The hunt runs from Oct. 2 -11.
The DNR issues permits to cap the number of hunters at 20. The DNR maintains food plots on the island and mows shooting lanes and paths to the blinds for the hunters. The island is famous for the trophy bucks it holds.
The big deer routinely swim back and forth from Rosemoen and other, nearby islands. Some of the hunters purposely chose blinds where they can watch it all in hopes the deer will come their way.
It's really a toss up in determining who enjoys this hunt the most, the hunters or their helpers. Albrecht said he was just about shaking, his adrenaline was running so much when the buck that his friend shot first showed itself Saturday morning. Tebben flashed an ear-to-ear smile to answer the question of how much he enjoyed it all.
While metro-based, Capable Partners offers fishing and hunting opportunities in this and other areas. It places an Ice Castle Fishhouse on Lac qui Parle Lake each winter for disabled anglers, said Petersen. The organization has about 250 members, and always welcomes new supporters willing to serve as able-bodied hosts.
Tebben returned to his stand in hopes of harvesting a doe on the island, but as of Wednesday noon of this week had not seen success. It's sure to come in some form or other: He's also planning to take advantage of an invitation by Chuck Ellingson of the Watson Hunting Camp to join him in waterfowl hunting.