CAMP RIPLEY — Early Wednesday morning hunting guide Craig Solt noticed a “flag” in the woods while in the blind with John Novicki, a paralyzed veteran from Emily. Periodically the “flag” (the deer’s tail) would show in the woods and then disappear.
Novicki, a member of the Minnesota Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America, was one of 58 veterans who participated in the firearms portion of the 21st annual Veterans Camp Ripley Deer Hunt.
Solt positioned Novicki’s wheelchair in the general direction of the deer and they waited. They were downwind from the deer, so they knew they had a chance to shoot before the deer noticed them. Novicki lifted his Remington 1100 shotgun, loaded with slugs, and waited. Solt used his range finder to measure 71 yards. The guide whispered the deer was probably going to walk out into a clearing. Moments later, at 8:30 a.m., Novicki took aim and fired. A fork horn buck buckled, ran a few yards and died.
Dressed out, the fork horn buck weighed 121 pounds and was already on the way to the processor Wednesday afternoon. After a lunch back at camp, Novicki wanted to show his aide, Ashley Daniels, the spot where he shot his buck. Daniels had never experienced anything like the deer hunting story she heard and had to see the blind herself. So out to the blind they went. After pictures that would be placed on Facebook, Daniels wheeled Novicki back to his van.
Simultaneously there were 96 recently deployed soldiers taking part in archery deer hunt in the northern part of the camp.