Any avid outdoorsman or woman can speak to the peace, tranquility and camaraderie found in nature — the thrill of the hunt or the excitement of the catch.
A sense of community exists in the outdoors, and it should not exclude anyone with a willingness to get outside and engage all that nature has to offer.
Thousands of deer were harvested last week across the state of Ohio during the annual week of gun-hunting season, but perhaps no bagged-buck was more special than the one dispatched Nov. 30 by a pair of out-of-state friends on a family-member’s farm located along State Route 540 in the area of County Road 5 in the eastern portion of Logan County.
Trevor Appenzeller shot his first-ever buck that day on the New Jerusalem property. He likely wasn’t the first hunter to successfully shoot his first buck during last week’s gun hunt, but perhaps no hunter had to overcome more obstacles to secure the kill.
Appenzeller lives with Cerebral Palsy and is legally blind, which presents a unique set of challenges for the 27-year-old Ft. Wayne, Ind., native. Despite the limitations, Appenzeller maintains a passion for the outdoors and has been hunting since his teenage years with the help of family and friends.
However, thanks to one special off-season project, his deer-hunting trip last week to eastern Logan County is one he’ll remember for the rest of his life.
Appenzeller shot the buck with an adapted rifle featuring a pneumatic remote trigger that allowed him to actually pull the trigger that initiated the kill.
“It was an incredible feeling to pull that trigger and get my first buck,” Appenzeller said recently by telephone. “It was a lot of hard work. A lot of challenges and a lot of getting on and off four-wheelers to make it happen.”
Efforts to enhance Appenzeller’s hunting experience were spearheaded largely by his friend and co-worker, Scott Elliott, who worked to outfit a .350 Legend rifle with an air-charged trigger that supplies an airline to the rifle itself to initiate the shot.
Elliott has worked on similar projects in the past for elderly persons or disabled veterans, all in the name of helping more people get outside to enjoy the sport they love.
Appenzeller said several different individuals helped build the adapted the rifle.
“All I had to do was test the final product at the shooting range,” he said.
Elliott pointed out the new rifle had to get approval by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, because the ODNR does not allow use of electronic triggers.
The property in New Jerusalem is owned by Elliott’s first cousin. He and Appenzeller made the trip from Ft. Wayne early last week to set up a camp and prepare for their hunt.
“Trevor very much enjoys the brotherhood of deer camp and I know was very much appreciative of the opportunity to shoot his first buck,” Elliott said, reflecting on the hunt by telephone. “He’s an excellent hunter and uses his impeccable hearing and patience to track deer.”
In addition to the adapted rifle, the friends made use of a deer stand with a ramp that allowed Appenzeller to get up in the deer stand.
“It’s a team effort and there’s no way I could have done it without Scott,” Appenzeller said. “He helps out with the visual aspect, letting me know I’m ‘on the deer, on the deer.'”
Appenzeller went on to say that hunting helps him channel his competitive spirit and challenge himself.
“Because of my CP, I was never really able to play sports in high school and so I’ve always thought of hunting as my sport, and it’s something I’m very passionate about,” he said, noting also that he is a big football fan.
The outdoorsman has taken part in scores of hunts over the years, including a trip big-game hunting in Canada. He’s shot a turkey and has also previously bagged a doe.
His most recent kill, however, is far and away the most special: a joint effort by two friends that perfectly epitomizes the fellowship of the outdoors.