Michael Edmonds of Inman, S.C. lost his sight during an industrial accident about four years ago, and with the loss of his sight, he thought his hunting days were over. But on Dec. 22, he killed a trophy while hunting with a friend with some specialized equipment.
“Four years ago I was in a chemical mishap on my job which left me blind. I spent almost seven weeks in a medically induced come at the Augusta Burn Center. When they woke me back up is when I realized that I could not see. Man, what an emotional rollercoaster. I grew up my whole life loving to hunt and fish. So with now being blind I was under the impression that I would never be able to hunt again,” Edmonds said.
The SC Commission of the Blind provided Edmonds with a laptop loaded with software that allows him to use his voice and his ears rather than his eyes. Through an internet search, he connected with an SCDNR employee who encouraged him to get back into the outdoors, and informed Edmonds that as long as he went with a sighted person, he was allowed to hunt just like always. This piqued his interest, but he was still unsure of how involved he could be. He really wanted to be a hunter, and not just a tag-along.
With a specially-built scope mounting system built by the Be Adaptive Company, Edmonds has joined his friends Terry Corn or Ray Downey in the woods on every weekend since Oct. 14, including several hunts offered by SCDNR. The scope sends a display of what it’s looking at through Edmonds’ phone, which can be viewed by Corn or another sighted person.
“This camera system mounts to the end of my rifle scope. There is a camera mounted in the end cap of the mount and mounted above it there is a bracket that the screen is attached to with Velcro. This screen is removable so that my sighted friend can either hold it in his/her hand or place it somewhere easy for them to see,” said Edmonds.
“My friend sits with me, and when it is time for me to try and get my gun in position, they tap me on the leg to start raising the gun. Once I have it shouldered, they tap me on the left shoulder if I need to move left and vice versa for the right. Taps on the top of my head to raise the gun and taps in the middle of the back if I need to lower it. When I am lined up for a shot then they double tap me on the back of the neck. All of this time they are looking at the screen,” he said.
Being in the woods throughout the hunting season was a blessing for Edmonds, and he felt great being back in the woods. But none of them resulted in him taking a shot until Downey double tapped the back of his neck on Dec. 22. That’s when Edmonds pulled the trigger on his Mossberg .308, sending a Hornady round downrange and dropping the first deer he’d shot in over four years. It wasn’t a typical trophy, as most trophies go, but it was definitely one for Edmonds.
“It was a very emotional day for me. After taking the shot, I couldn’t even stand up. I tried but had to sit right back down. Next thing I knew, I was sitting there crying. The deer wasn’t a monster, but it was huge for me. Being able to harvest a deer after becoming blind was an awesome experience for me. It was a big accomplishment for me,” he said.
You can follow along with Edmonds’ outings on his Adventures of Blind and Crazy Facebook page.