Michael Timpa never let his handicap keep him from spending time on the water or in the woods.
But the 26-year-old Lake Charles resident, who was born with spina bifida, had grown somewhat tired of duck hunting and wanted to crank his hunting experiences up a notch with deer hunting.
On Jan. 11, Timpa didn’t just move it up a notch - he blew it through the roof when he downed a monster 9-point buck with an eye-popping 29 ¼-inch inside spread.
Paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair, Timpa was put in touch with the Wheelin’ Sportsman organization under the umbrella of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
This organization makes it possible for hunters with a handicap to continue to enjoy the outdoors.
“At about the age of 15, I had grown tired of going with my dad, a duck hunting guide, to the duck blind. I wanted to lay aside my shotgun and bag a deer with my rifle,” he said.
His dad and uncle took him on several deer hunts to their lease south of DeRidder and also to Alabama and Texas to deer hunt.
He bagged his first deer, a doe, in Alabama, and took his first buck in Texas.
“I applied for and was selected for a handicapped deer hunt on the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge nine years ago. I’ve been going back up there to hunt with the Wheelin’ Sportsman folks ever since,” Timpa said.
Timpa, who lives in an apartment near his parents in Lake Charles, drives his own truck to his job at O’Reilly Auto Parts.
He joined a group of 13 hunters Jan. 10 for a deer hunt that weekend. They stayed at cabins at Poverty Point State Park in Delhi that night and were on the road by 3:00 the next morning on their way to Tensas.
After getting all their instructions and safety information, each hunter and guide was transported to individual blinds, all of which are handicapped-accessible and are manufactured by Antler Shed Blinds and donated by the Louisiana Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
“I feel blessed that my paralysis is from the waist down. Once I get in the blind and get situated, I’m able to handle my gun like someone without a handicap,” he said.
The morning dawned somewhat hazy and cool with temperatures in the mid-40s. Legal shooting time was 6:37 that morning, but because of the haze and cloud cover, it was still too dark to see.
“I could begin making out objects from my stand by 6:45, using my range finder, when a deer stepped out at 200 yards,” he said. “Grass on the clearing out in front of the stand was probably 3 feet high and I could see the deer’s back and head.
“When I saw his rack. I put the range finder aside and grabbed my rifle.”
The buck was walking at a brisk clip, covering 100 yards in less than a minute. Fortunately, the deer was walking at an angle toward Timpa, and when he got to about the 100 yard mark, Timpa put the crosshairs on his 300 Win-mag bolt action on the deer’s vitals and squeezed the trigger.
“He ran about 25 yards and stopped, and I saw his legs buckle and watched him fall,” Timpa said.
Once the volunteers dragged the deer out of the tall grass into the road, he had his first look at his buck.
“I knew he was big but had no idea his rack was like this,” Timpa said.
The rack was indeed something to behold. Sporting 9 points and heavy mass, the buck, later rough scored at 160 inches Boone and Crockett, had mind-boggling space between his antlers, stretching the tape to 29 ¼ inches of air.
The deer, determined to be about 5 ½ years old, weighed 200 pounds.
Timpa has high praise for the Wheelin’ Sportsman organization, especially the volunteers, led by a couple who work so hard to make the experience a special one.
Steve Chamberlain is Wheelin’ Sportsman coordinator and his wife, Shelley serves as volunteer coordinator of the Full-Time Wheelchair User hunt held at Tensas NWR.
“I was supposed to guide Michael that morning,” Shelley said with a grin. “However at the last minute we found another guide so I could remain at HQ in case I was needed as coordinator.
“I sure hate I wasn't there, but I’m not sure he would have done as well because I'm not sure I could have been still and quiet when ‘the beast’ walked out.
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.