Eric Jones has been at it again. He’s Guntersville’s quadriplegic big game hunter who has hunted all over the world.
He went on a tear in September:
- First he went to Africa, where he hunted with TDK Safaris and bagged red hartebeest, blesbok, warthog, bushbuck, impala, reedbuck and zebra. It was his second time to hunt in Africa.
- Just days after returning from Africa, he went to Wyoming and bagged a mule deer.
Eric is big on Africa. He’s been on safari previously. He won this trip in a Safari Club International online auction.
“I was so happy when I found out I had won,” he said.
He uses a special gun mount made by beadaptive.com attached to his wheelchair for his rifle. He controls it by bumping it with his arm. He uses a sip and puff device to pull the trigger. Over years and years of hunting, he has gotten the system down pat.
He got his blesbok the first day of his safari.
“We didn’t kill anything the second day,” he said. “I got the zebra the third day with a 165-yard shot through the brush.”
He was using his Browning X-Bolt .308. He'd used guns belonging to his guides in the past.
“I just had to take my .308 to Africa one day,” he said. He shoots 165-grain Nosler Partitions through the .308.
He recently added another weapon to his arsenal, an X-Bolt in 7 mm Magnum, which he feels will give him more long range distance.
The red hartebeest had been on the list of animals he wanted. And warthogs are just fun, Eric said.
“I’d taken warthog before but this hunt was a little different,” he said. “It was over a waterhole.”
The impala is a classic African animal that lots of hunters have on their bucket lists.
Eric’s friend Nick Boshell went with him.
“Nick works at UAB and he just took excellent care of me,” Eric said.
Nick got to hunt a little on the trip too and took a warthog and an impala.
The bushbuck can be a bit of a dangerous animal if it’s wounded and runs into the bush.
“I really wanted to anchor it, but it took a step right as I shot,” Eric said.
His professional hunter, Kevin Brits, was able to track and retrieve the animal though.
“He went in after it with a 9mm pistol,” Eric said.
There are many, many species of big game in Africa, Eric said. He got 7 of them on this trip. He got 9 species on his previous hunt, giving him 16 species.
Shortly after getting back from Africa, Eric took off for Wyoming and mule deer hunting.
“It was a special hunt on Bob Johnson’s ranch,” Eric said. “Al McCarty of Chairbound Hunters has been a great friend to me and he set it up. He’s helped a lot of disabled hunters.”
Eric had hunted antelope with Al previously. Al has been ill himself and he was on oxygen during this hunt yet he still drove the Polaris for Eric while he hunted.
"He said he will keep operating Chairbound Hunters of Wyoming until he's dead," Eric said. "He has been a great friend to me."
Typically, Eric does his hunting off the back of a pickup truck or even from a flatbed trailer hooked to a truck. It’s just an easier way to accommodate his wheelchair.
This hunt was different. He hunted with Al out of a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle.
“It felt like we were going 50 miles per hour at times,” Eric said.
He got Eric in the right position though and Eric drilled his mule deer buck with a 210-yard shot.
“It was a hard hunt,” Eric said. “I was worn out when it was over.”
The cold really saps Eric, so he likes to do his hunting in warm weather when he can.
"It was windy and in the 50s," Eric said. "For me, that is cold."
The early mornings took a toll too.
“We were getting up at 2:15 a.m. to get everything ready,” Eric said.
“We did that for 3 days.”
What’s next for Eric?
He will do some deer hunting locally. The gun deer season opens Nov. 23. He has been on a quest to kill a duck for some time now. It’s not easy getting a wheelchair bound hunter in position to take a duck, but Eric and friends will try again this year.
He enjoys deep sea fishing and will likely be planning another big game hunt before too long.
For anyone who hopes to hunt Africa some day, Eric highly recommends membership in Safari Club International. He also recommends the book “The Perfect Shot” as a guide for taking animals humanely.