Group seeks help to continue serving disabled hunters

Posted 1/13/22

When Dan Jordan saw a huge muley buck walk out of the brushy bottoms a couple hundred yards away, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Then the monster started heading his way. 

The 30-inch …

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Group seeks help to continue serving disabled hunters


When Dan Jordan saw a huge muley buck walk out of the brushy bottoms a couple hundred yards away, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Then the monster started heading his way. 

The 30-inch spread of his massive antlers looked wide, even from a distance. The buck slowly made his way to within 85 yards of Jordan and his Wyoming Disabled Hunter volunteer mentor, Powell’s Scott Smith. The two were hunting by bow, so the buck needed to get much closer for an ethical shot. Instead, the heavy-bodied mule deer decided to take a nap.

They watched as he bedded down, thinking it could be a long wait in silence. After about a half-hour, the trophy buck stood.

“We just got to watch him the whole time and watch the does and a couple small bucks. And then he got up and walked toward us, up to right around 20 yards and turned broadside,” Jordan said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to get on him.”

Jordan, from Boise, has always been an avid hunter. But in 1999, while rock climbing, a boulder his rope was bolted into broke.

“I took a little bit of a tumble after that,” he quipped about his misfortune.

Jordan fell 60-feet and has been in a wheelchair since. “I’m still very functional. I’m pretty strong and have a lot of upper body strength and had no head injuries. I am extremely lucky.”

Jordan likes a challenge, and bow hunting offers plenty of that. Despite his passion and fortitude, he needs a helping hand to navigate hunts. The “tricky parts” for disabled hunters include the inability to just get up, walk a few hundred yards and take a look in the gully. Even positioning yourself with the bow in your hand, once you have a shot, is difficult in a wheelchair.

“You have to work 10 times as hard as anybody else just to find an accessible place to go,” Jordan said. “And being successful is even more difficult, because you can’t just move 30 yards to get a clear shot.”

Good opportunities to be successful were few and far between. Then Jordan got online and found information about the Wyoming Disabled Hunters program. It was his first attempt to find a program for hunters like him.

In selfless acts, volunteers for the organization apply for tags and then donate them back to the disabled program through the state to be distributed to disabled hunters applying for the licenses.

“As much as meeting the other hunters, I really enjoyed meeting the volunteers and the people that gave up their time and their own hunting opportunities to help,” Jordan said.

Smith was with Jordan through the week-long hunt and “was amazing,” Jordan said. “We really had a great time hanging out together.”

Bryce Fauskee, Powell resident and vice president of the organization, has been volunteering with the group since 2009. He is an experienced hunter, keen to do community service and also knows how it feels to deal with a disability.

Fauskee also isn’t about to let his disability stop him from putting in close to 1,000 miles a year on his bike, long days on horseback in the backcountry or hunting challenging landscapes. He’s been following his father, Bruce, on hunts since he was a little boy, refusing to allow being born with spina bifida define him.

“I used to tag along on his hunts before I was old enough to hunt myself,” Fauskee recalled of trips with his father. “I kind of got the bug then. He’s always been my hunting buddy.”

Fauskee knows how fortunate he is to have a father willing to get him outdoors and wants to return the favor to those who aren’t as lucky. He is now appealing to the public for help.

The group needs a full spectrum of volunteers, he said, from hunting mentors to kitchen help. The organization also recently lost its grant writer and is in desperate need of a new volunteer to fill the spot, because much of its funding comes through grants.

This past season, Wyoming Disabled Hunters helped 19 men and two women go on elk, deer and pronghorn hunts. The seasons start in mid-September, and continue through November. Yet it takes much more work to make the hunts successful.

“Going out and doing hunts is kind of the reward at the end of year,” Fauskee said.

The group works through the entire year organizing hunts, attending meetings and seeking donations. Wyoming Disabled Hunters has eight board members and more than four dozen volunteers. But they need more of both, Fauskee said.

The hunts aren’t just one-day adventures. The pronghorn hunts last at least two days and the deer and elk hunts take about five days each. They were scrambling at the end of last season to fill the one-on-one mentor positions and are hoping to avoid issues in the future.

Volunteering didn’t stop Fauskee from hunting. He had a great adventure gunning for elk this year, though in the end he was unable to put meat in the freezer.

“I didn’t get one, but that’s all right,” Fauskee said. “We had a great time.”

Last year the organization was able to purchase a new 4x4 van thanks to donations from the Paul Stock Foundation, the Park County Parks and Recreation Board and the Wyoming Outdoorsmen. The organization’s previous transportation had become unreliable. “You’d have to jimmy it together every time and pray it was going to start,” Fauskee recalled.

The van has been a vast improvement and gives the organization some additional exposure thanks to new graphics. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, among many other groups, are also generous donors.

Wyoming Disabled Hunters is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded by Wyoming residents. They have no paid staff and spend thousands each year on food and housing for hunts and thousands more on financial assistance for hunters who otherwise couldn’t afford the trip. Not all will harvest a monster buck like Jordan’s, but they’ll meet the kind folks from northwest Wyoming and make new lifelong friends.

“I plan to stay in touch,” Jordan said. “They’re genuinely good, good people.”

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