Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

14-Point Comeback; Raulerson Shoots Two 7-Point Bucks during His First Hunt in 16 Years

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

14-Point Comeback; Raulerson Shoots Two 7-Point Bucks during His First Hunt in 16 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Julavits, Times-Union outdoors editor

In 1986, Dennis Raulerson was pulling out of his driveway, bassboat in tow, when he was hit broadside by a teenage driver fleeing police in a stolen car. The collision paralyzed Raulerson from the neck down.

An avid outdoorsman, Raulerson was suddenly a quadriplegic.

Last Saturday, 16 long, huntless years after the accident, Raulerson was back in the woods again, making up for lost time. Using a mouth-operated rifle mounted on his wheelchair, he shot not one, but two 7-point bucks, one of which sported an 18-inch antler spread.

"It made my whole year," said Raulerson, who lives in west Jacksonville. "I missed hunting. I used to go with my son to watch him run dogs, but to get back out in the woods myself, it was great."

Raulerson's hunt was made possible by his friends, who supplied the hunting site in Dooly County, Ga., and a gun mount device tailored for hunters in wheelchairs.

Raulerson found out about the device, called an SR77, while perusing the Buckmasters Web site. He contacted the fellow who makes it and bought one for about $900.

The SR77 attaches to a wheelchair and secures a rifle via bolts. A mouth-activated "joystick" on the SR77 allows aiming of the gun, left or right, up or down. A separate blow tube, also mouth-operated, is connected to a solenoid on the rifle. Suck on the tube, and the rifle fires.

"Once it's set up, I can do it all myself," said Raulerson, who shoots a bolt-action .270 rifle with a muzzlebrake to reduce recoil.

Raulerson, 46, and his friends spent months planning the hunt on the 300-acre lease in Georgia. Jacksonville's Clyde Keen, who has known Raulerson since high school, selected a 60-acre tract on one side of a road that was readily accessible to his friend's wheelchair lift-equipped van.

Last Saturday, the chosen day for the hunt, was wet, windy and generally miserable, but Raulerson and his 23-year-old son, Chad, were undaunted. They set up on the side of a road in a portable, zip-up blind. …

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