Hunting

Disabled Wisconsin Hunter Shoots Buck of a Lifetime

AJ Gall

The date was December 5th, 2015. Patrick Schmitt of Port Washington, WI was accompanied by his father Mike, and uncle John on the hunt.  The three of them were peering out of a blind waiting on a big 10-pointer, known as Triple Threat, to show himself as he had done the nights prior.  The hunting “blind” was 2013 Dodge Caravan equipped with a wheel-chair lift for Patrick.

The first sighting of the big 10-pointer was two days prior when his uncle John spotted the large deer feeding in a cut cornfield near the house on his way in from the evening hunt.  Once John got back he called his brothers Joe and Paul Roden to tell him what he saw.  Immediately, the brothers asked if it would be a spot that they could get Patrick in to hunt.

Patrick is a C5-6 quadriplegic.

Big Wisconsin Buck on Trail CameraA trail cam picture of the big 10-pointer they called Triple Threat.

For Patrick, the outdoors have been his oasis since his childhood.  Now, at age 31, the outdoors still remain that oasis, but getting out into them carries a whole new set of challenges.  The Wisconsin native has been an avid hunter since the age of 12, but everything changed when a routine motorcycle ride to work nearly ended his life and hunting days back in 2006.  After spending 75 days in the hospital, 45 of which Patrick was in a coma, he returned home as a quadriplegic thinking he would never be able to hunt again.

The months following the accident were the toughest of his young life.  One day he was a young 22-year-old living life to the fullest and the next he was in a chair unable to move his arms or legs.  They were trying times for Patrick, but there was one thing keeping him motivated through it all – the want and will to hunt again.

Immediately following the accident, it was Patrick’s mission to get back into the woods.  With the help of his amazing family and friends, he was back at it in no time.  It just so happened that Patrick’s dad worked in the tool and die industry and with his “MacGyver-ing” skills he was able to construct a wheelchair that would help his son hunt again. The wheelchair itself included a mounted swivel gun rest suitable for Patrick’s semi-auto .308 DPMS rifle or crossbow. His gun was further equipped with a custom trigger activator which allows him to fire more than one shot if need be by cranking a handle similar to that of a window crank.

Patrick with his big Wisconsin BuckPatrick poses with his big Wisconsin buck.

For most of the season, Patrick was hunting on another one of his uncle’s property that was equipped with wheelchair accessible elevated blinds.  While he was seeing some deer, the big bucks never seemed to show, so the day after John had seen the big buck feeding in the cut corn field, Patrick was out there waiting for him to show again.

Unfortunately, the big buck never showed and Triple Threat was looking more like a one-hit wonder.  The night ended in a goose egg for Patrick, but not all was lost.  It just so happened that on a drive around the property, his uncle Paul had spotted the buck not too far from Patrick!  However, due to where they were situated, a bend in the woodline prevented them from seeing the buck during their sit.

A pattern was emerging.  For the second night in a row, Triple Threat had made a day-time appearance to the cut corn field.  Patrick and his uncles knew this buck was killable, however, time was running out.  With only two days left of Wisconsin’s gun season, Patrick, along with his father Mike, and uncle John drove the blind in place and waited for the buck to make a third straight daytime appearance.

Patrick Schmitt with his big Wisconsin BuckThe happiest hunter in the world.

Anticipation was high, but time was quickly running out as the sun sank into the horizon. Frequent time checks showed there was only five minutes left of legal shooting light.  It looked like the third time out wasn’t going to be the charm.  They were about to start packing up their gear, when out of seemingly nowhere a large bodied deer emerged.  Just as soon as Patrick saw the buck, the safety was switched and the crosshairs were settled.

Patrick rolled his trigger activator and the shot rang out.  The buck tore off out of the field into a cedar bottom, leaving the three of them unsure of the hit.  Patrick was confident he had hit the buck, but a short search by his dad and uncle John said otherwise – they found nothing.

Patrick spent the rest of the night wondering what could have gone wrong.  After all, he’s always been a sure shot.  He’s knocked down turkeys at 50 yards and several deer all with perfect shots.  His other uncles thought the same thing . . . there’s no way he could have missed.  The next morning his uncles Joe and Paul organized a search party to see if they could find the big ole buck that Patrick apparently missed.

A crew of twelve guys gathered at the Roden farm the next morning to see if they could find the big 10-pointer.  Shortly into the search blood was found which confirmed a hit.  They called Patrick to tell him he’d better get to the farm ASAP.  Once he arrived the search continued and it wasn’t long before his father yelled out, “Here he is!”

Group of Deer Hunters Around a Big BuckThe whole search party after they recovered the buck.

Patrick motored his wheelchair over as fast as he could, treating it like a full blown ATV, plowing over any thick grass and shrubs in his way.  When he finally laid eyes on the big Wisconsin buck, he couldn’t believe it.  The crew gathered around congratulating Patrick on his buck and perfect shot.  Then came the real work . . . the drag out.

Like any hunting party, razzing and joking around with each other is a big part of what makes deer camp so fun.  Before he knew it, the guys were tying a rope from the buck to the wheelchair.  Patrick backed up to put some slack in the rope and then took off down the trail.  The motorized wheelchair dug down into the ground and began dragging the giant buck down the path.  It was truly a sight to see.

For Patrick, this was his biggest buck to date and while this hunt will forever hold a special place in his mind, he’s thankful for every hunt he has.  Despite his condition, hunting has always been that special oasis – the only time and place where he says he can get away from it all.

Watch the video below to Patrick drag out the big buck with his motorized wheelchair!


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About The Author
From Woods to Table

AJ Gall

AJ Gall is Legendary Whitetails Community Page Manager.  His prior hunting and wildlife experiences began long ago and make him the perfect in-house deer hunting guru.  As a habitat consultant under Dr. Grant Woods, AJ has worked on properties in 13 different states, amassing over 25,000 acres of quality deer management. He now uses that knowledge to help clients find their dream hunting properties as a licensed real estate agent in Wisconsin.  

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