Backcasts archive: Through Aug. 22, 2008

Blog calendar: Aug. 22 | Aug. 21 | Aug. 19

posted Aug. 22, 2008

What's this? Blind man bags antelope from 200 yards? Believe it!

We love Fridays here at Backcasts as much as anyone in the workaday world. It is the perfect calming antidote to the stress that is Monday. Friday's fresh, uplifting and full of promise.

So it's entirely appropriate that on this Friday we bring to your attention the bright and inspirational story of Mike Sanders, as told by Michael Peretti of The Gallup Independent in New Mexico.

You see Sanders, of Jamestown, N.M., was an avid hunter and apparently a very active guy … before the accident. But injuries sustained in a 2004 fire and explosion left him blind, without a left hand and burned over more than 80 percent of his body, according to the article that was picked up by the Las Cruces Sun-News and the Associated Press.

He spent 18 months in the hospital.

And now he's hunting again.

In fact, on Aug. 1, on his first trip out since his accident, he bagged an antelope, according to the Independent.

Special equipment was attached to his .308-caliber rifle and Sanders' wife, Michelle, and his friend Joe Chepin helped Sanders line up the shot. He missed twice, but the third time was a charm and he plugged a New Mexico pronghorn from about 200 yards out.

Not too shabby for a guy who can't see.

Actually, it's one of the most incredible hunting stories we've encountered in some time.

Sanders' wife was understandably concerned when he expressed interest in hunting again.

"It is kind of scary because it is a blind person, but he has it in his head that he knows what he is doing," she told the Independent.

This month's hunt is proof positive that Sanders knows exactly what he's doing. He said the most difficult aspect is reloading with one hand, but we just know he'll adapt well.

"I intend to keep on hunting from this point on," he said. Next up: a muzzleloader hunt for New Mexico elk in early October.

Bully for Mike Sanders, and double bully for his wife, Michelle, for helping her spouse fulfill his dream despite her own trepidations.

Oh, and hats off for sure to Michael Peretti for sharing this story and making Friday even better.


posted Aug. 21, 2008

Loveless tortoise finally comes out of her shell after getting a set of wheels

This shelled critter zips around on a skateboard and is becoming quite the sensation.

Can you guess who it is?

The genius Donatello?

Maybe Michelangelo?

The bad boy himself, Raphael?

Or Leonardo the courageous?

Nope, it's none of the purple, orange, red and blue masked heroes we all know and love as the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

But we're quite certain those hip reptiles would be impressed with Arava, a 10-year-old spurred tortoise, who, according to the Associated Press, has overcome paralysis of her hind legs after being fitted with a customized skateboard.

Not only that, she has found a love interest who is chasing her around.

Arava was just sitting around at a petting zoo in southern Israel with her unexplained handicap ! and no romance. But things quickly changed after she arrived at Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, the AP reports.

There staff members crafted a wheeled device and secured it to her shell to allow the 55-pound tortoise to move freely about her enclosure.

All the commotion caught the attention of a suitor – a particularly amorous 10-year-old male, according to the AP – and the two have begun mating.

That's fantastic, or as the Ninja Turtles would say, "Cowabunga!"


posted Aug. 19, 2008

Editor's note: My Back Pages recalls previous columns penned by the author. The following piece was written for ESPNOutdoors.com when Seattle Mariners pitcher Jarrod Washburn was on the staff of the Anaheim Angels in 2001.

My Back Pages: Jarrod Washburn has seen it all from behind a bow

"Athletes in the Outdoors": The MLB

Hunting was a mix of passion and necessity when Jarrod Washburn was a kid. Dad was a police officer in small-town Wisconsin before working in a factory in another small town. Mom had different jobs throughout the years — as a seamstress, Washburn said, "sewing different odds and ends," then working at a grocery store and later at the local bank.

Taking game was expected of young Washburn. Not surprisingly, he maintains an offseason regimen of hunting every day back home in lonely Danbury, Wis., except on Sunday — and that's only to watch the Packers. If Green Bay plays on Sunday evening or Monday night, expect him to be in the field seven days that week. Wife, Kerrie, and son, Jack, enjoy Washburn's company in the evenings — and during commercials on Sunday.

ESPN Outdoors caught up with left-hander between pitching assignments.

ESPN Outdoors: "What in your background draws you into the field?"

Jarrod Washburn: "I grew up doing it — basically hunting and fishing everything. When I was a kid, it was kind of a way of life. We had to do it for food and to help get by. We didn't have a lot of money, so we needed the meat, and the fish and all that stuff to help us get by. We were not well off. I mean, we got by; we had everything we needed to live. And my parents did a good job of raising me and my brother and sister. But, you know, we definitely depended on deer season and duck season and all that to help get food to feed the family, you know, and help make getting by a little easier."

EO: "Quite a different lifestyle now, huh?"

JW: "No question. The first time I got on a plane was after I signed my first contract with the Angels. And I flew to Boise, Idaho — their short-season A team."

EO: "But you played college ball. You had to have flown, right?"

JW: "In college, I played at a Division III school (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh). We bused everywhere. We went to the Division III World Series every year (winning a national championship in 1994), but we had to bus it to there."

EO: "You could afford to pay for any kind of hunting you wanted now, hunts you could have only dreamed about as a kid or even in college."

JW: "Yeah, but I'm not the kind of guy who likes (guided hunts). I mean, I could enjoy it because it's hunting, if it was a fair-chase situation. But I really enjoy, you know, the part of going out and trying to figure them out myself. I don't want to pay a guide and show up somewhere and he says, 'All right, you're going to sit here.' I mean, I'd get satisfaction out of maybe killing an animal that way, but it just wouldn't be the same as doing all the scouting yourself, trying to figure them out yourself. To me, that's probably the most enjoyable part — just the walking around in the woods and trying to figure them out. "

EO: "Your specialty is bowhunting whitetail deer. What's the attraction?"

JW:"I think whitetail are the smartest animal in the world."

EO: "How so?"

JW: "Well, they've adapted to so many situations and they can live anywhere. They live in South Texas, where there's cactus, and Saskatchewan, where it's 25 below everyday and snowy. I mean, they can live anywhere. They can adapt to all different situations. They're in towns and cities and the middle of the woods. There's always buildings being built here and there, and they have got to keep adapting — like with the grunt call, for example. When the grunt call first came out, it worked like magic. And I think now, more often than not, they hear you grunt and they're kind of wise to it. They're constantly learning."

EO: "What about the bowhunting part of the equation?"

JW: "I kind of compare bowhunting to pitching a little bit, in the fact that I think I could pitch the rest of my life and by the end of my career I would still not know everything there is to know about pitching. And I think bowhunting is the same way. I think you could bowhunt every day for the rest of your life, and when you're done you won't know everything there is to know about it."

This article originally appeared in May 2001 in the pages of ESPNOutdoors.com

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    About the author: Brett Pauly spent nearly six years editing and publishing ESPNOutdoors.com before moving on to produce the ESPN.com Sports Travel site. He is a national award-winning writer and editor with 14 years of experience in the newspaper trade, including stints at the Los Angeles Daily News and Seattle Times. The Evergreen State is where he now makes his home. Click here to email him.

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