White Sands Missile Range - A HUNTER TRIUMPHANT!

On Dec. 4th 2010, I took Mr. and Mrs. Sanders on an another wild adventure... An Oryx hunt on the WSMR in Southern New Mexico. The WSMR hunt administrator, Gilbert Villegas accompanied/escorted us on the hunt and below is what Gilbert had to say.



“Good Evening everyone,
 
            I wanted to share with everyone a special hunt that took place several weeks ago that embraces the human spirit and defines how our sport brings people of all races, ethnicities and disabilities together at one point in time to share an experience that lives forever.  I have the great privilege of meeting all types of sportsmen and women each year and every year there will be one or two special hunts that remind me why I enjoy hunting.
 
The story begins with Bo Prieskorn of Brazos River Outfitters, who was able to obtain an incentive tag and had the perfect hunter to take advantage of this opportunity. To make this happen we had the tag validated with the help of Ray Aaltonen, Dan Brooks and the Special Licensing Department with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
 
 Bo and I had several conversations about his hunter, Mr. Sanders who is 100% blind. I obviously was very curious and started to wonder how this was going to work out.  To be honest, I was wondering if we could harvest an animal, especially when the average shot is 275 - 300 yards and Oryx are constantly on the move.  Bo knew it was going to be a challenge, but it was nothing like the challenge Mr. & Mrs. Sanders had overcome.  He sent me this link to give me some insight on how this couple conquered the impossible so they can do the things they love to do, hunt!
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swkumYa8EVE
 
If you were like me you, were moved by the video but inspired at the same time. Needless to say, I was excited about the hunt and couldn’t wait to meet Mr. Sanders and his wife. That morning I gave the hunt party their range orientation and hunt briefing before we started. Bo gave me a breakdown on how Mr. Sanders gets into position and how he actually aims and shoots. Basically, his scope is attached to a special video display unit that allows his wife to see what Mr. Sanders is pointing at.  She meticulously guides him in for the shot. This is what it would be like in the cab of the truck,  2 O’clock…up, down…a hair to the right and hair down…GUN!!!!!! Gun is the key word for Mr. Sanders to let lead fly.  The unit also records the shot ( Below is a whitetail hunt he had.).
 

 
 
 
Team Sanders also let me know they would need 30 to 45 seconds to get on the animal, which is an eternity for Oryx.  Mr. Sanders indicated he was solid at 200 yards and wasn’t afraid to shoot out to 300 yards.
 
            So at day break we were off.  I had radio contact with Bo and Mr. Sanders to make sure we were always communicating as we were driving down range.  I also had Jason one of our WSMR Game Wardens, helping us from the west. As we started our way onto the range, Jason let me know he had a nice bull right off the road.  Since Mr. Sanders has a mobility impaired certificate that allows him to shoot from the road and from inside the vehicle, it was a great opportunity, but it was about 20 minutes away.  As we started driving that direction, I was scanning each side of the road to make sure we didn’t miss anything close, and all of sudden  there wa a nice Oryx 70 yards to my right.  I fumbled around to get my radio to let Bo know, and I pulled off the road to get a better look. I couldn’t believe it! She was just standing there looking at us. I got so worked up I couldn’t judge her correctly, all I said, (almost shouting) “She’s a good one, 33…34 inches!”.  After about 15 seconds, I was amazed she was still there looking across the road, so I naturally started to turn to look around. Forty yards on the other side of the road was a nice looking bull; we had split up a cow and bull. So I got on the radio, “To your right! EITHER ONE!”. The bull didn’t want any part of this, and within seconds he was gone, but the cow wanted to cross the road to follow the bull. She eventually spooked a bit and ran off to about 125 yards, standing right in front of a yucca and preventing Mr. Sanders from taking a shot once he was on her.  I was, however, confident she would run off a bit more and look back to see where the bulls was. I told them over the radio she would stop again, and she did exactly what I thought. She ran about another 55 yards and stopped, and after about 20 seconds I hear a shot and a SMACK! She took off like most of them do, but I could see that she was hit hard. The Oryx ran another 80 yards and fell over.  We didn’t celebrate just yet because we all know Oryx are notorious for jumping up and running out of sight. So Bo and I went to make sure it was down and the roar of victory echoed through the desert that morning as we confirmed that cow was down for the count.  Mrs. Sander escorted her husband to the kill. He was about to burst with joy and excitement. One shot! She was a trophy: She measured 37 inches! We all set up for the camera, but before we took the pictures, Mr. Sanders knelt to examine this fine animal that he could not see. He ran his hands over every inch of that animal, marveling at the wonder of it all – as certainly were all the rest of us.
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 

 

 
 
Team Sanders definitely worked like a well oiled machine that morning, at least it looked like that from outside the cab.  I was telling Bo how cool this was and how calm everyone was before the shot and he was like, “No way it was CHOAS”, he said as he laughed.  Mrs. Sanders agreed and Mike just laughed since he was the CHOAS part of the hunt.  They gave me the impression he gets so worked up and excited, before and after the shot, he’s bouncing off the walls of the truck.  It sounds like Mr. Sanders has the same passion I do. The hunt was a success, but the true essence of the hunt was not the hunt itself but the people I was fortunate to meet because of the hunt. Not only was I inspired by them, but I know I will be a better person too. There are no words to explain the dedication and commitment Mrs. Sanders has for her husband, whom she married after the oil rig accident in 2004. She was with him before the accident and it looks like she’ll be there for the rest of their lives. They have stood together against all odds, sharing their story for all that there isn’t an obstacle big enough to keep you from doing the things you love.  I’ve learned there are no excuses in life other than the ones you make up, and I was able to share the Sanders’ experience with my nephew, who is learning the essentials of being a sportsman. It was a pleasure to meet two awesome people (Bo wasn’t too bad either.).  By the way, Mrs. Sanders is a killing machine in your own right, so don’t let her fool you.
 
Special thanks have to be given to the NMDGF for taking care of all the paper work so this hunt could happen in such short notice.  
 
Till next time, happy hunting….
 
 

 
Gilbert Villegas
Wildlife Biologist/Hunt Administrator
Zia Engineering and Environmental, llc”

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