- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

BLACK CREEK, Wis. (AP) - Five minutes passed before the buck finally moved his head and Kyle Rosner could focus his eyes on what he thought he saw when he first glanced over in the deer’s direction. At 70 yards, the buck wasn’t in his crossbow range yet, and soon disappeared from his sights.

Rosner, who lives in Black Creek and was hunting on land behind his godfather’s house in the area, thought the buck he had seen only on trail cam photos a handful of times since July was gone for good. It was Jan. 3, the final day of the bowhunting and crossbow season, and he was just happy to finally lay eyes on this 160-class buck he had only dreamt about seeing.

But he showed up again, this time at 50 yards and following a few other deer, and they were headed toward his ground blind.

Like most big bucks, he wasn’t in a hurry, but it was only a few minutes after 4 p.m., so Rosner knew time was on his side.

The deer disappeared from his view again. After another five minutes he showed up off to Kyle’s left. Now he was just 25 yards away and Rosner, who had his crossbow set up in the Barronett Blind window on the right, slowly moved it over to the left and placed the scope on the animal. Four long, agonizing footsteps later, the buck moved from behind a tree and Rosner buried the arrow behind the deer’s front shoulder.

He watched as the deer took off 50 or 60 yards and began stumbling before disappearing into some brush, and the buck never reappeared on the other side. Elation and joy overtook Rosner as tears began to flow.

“I went from being calm and collected to shaking like a leaf and literally crying like a baby,” Rosner told Press-Gazette Media (https://gbpg.net/1PHGX4l ). “I had tears going down my face, it was nuts. I was just trying to realize what had just happened.”

He called his dad, Jeff Rosner, right away, who answered the phone by asking, “How big is it?” It was still light out, so Jeff knew Kyle wasn’t calling to get picked up, and Kyle made a pact with himself this season to shoot only a mature buck.

Kyle, 26, told him what had happened, and the two and 10 of Kyle’s friends retrieved the deer from the woods. The buck gross scored 1691/8 inches, easily the biggest of his life.

Life. A word Kyle has become increasingly thankful for each and every day. Four years ago, it was nearly taken from him.

On April 1, 2012, Kyle was in a car accident in Pulaski, and neither he nor his friend in the car were wearing seat belts. His friend walked away from the accident without a scratch. Kyle didn’t walk away at all.

The crash broke his neck, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Kyle has movement in his head and neck, as well as his arms down to his wrists. He has no movement in his fingers.

He spent the majority of the next year in and out of hospitals and nursing homes, but preparations were being made for when he did finally come home.

He moved into his uncle’s - and godfather’s - fully furnished basement, and they made a handicap-accessible bathroom to accommodate his needs. They also bought a handicap-accessible van they picked up at an auction.

Kyle was extremely appreciative, but all he wanted to do was get back to doing the things he loved as quickly as possible.

“When you spend a year in the hospital, you want to spend every minute you can outside,” Kyle said. “Looking out of a hospital window is not as fun as looking out of a blind window.”

He and his dad started by shooting trap in the backyard. They were able to purchase several items and get his wheelchair set up so that whatever weapon of choice Kyle was using on that day was essentially weightless. They also attached a sling to his finger and connected it to a harness on his wrist so he could pull the trigger by cocking his arm back.

It didn’t take long for Kyle to get the hang of it.

“We shoot trap in the backyard, and he was always a better shot than me, and the first time we shot (after the accident) I beat him,” Jeff said. “I didn’t feel good about it, but I wish I would have felt good about it because he’s way better than I am already. … You start to look around and there’s all kinds of things out there, you can do almost anything you want to do, no matter what your conditions are.”

Once comfortable shooting with his new style - he has about 40 yards right to left and 50 yards up and down of shooting range mobility - he took to the woods for turkey hunting. His friends, and there are a lot of them, would sit him in the back of a 4-by-6-foot trailer behind a four-wheeler and drive him out to the blind behind Kyle’s godfather’s house. They also laid plywood down on the trail so his wheels wouldn’t get stuck in the mud.

In April of 2013, just a little more than a year after the accident, Kyle harvested his first animal - a beautiful tom turkey with a 9-inch beard.

Three months later, Jeff and Kyle purchased an Action Trackchair from TSS Equipment in Cleveland, Wisconsin, and things have only gotten better for Kyle since. TSS also hooked him up with a heater bodysuit, a prototype for disabled people, to keep Kyle warm during his hunts.

His disability hasn’t slowed down his passion or desire. It’s only made it stronger.

Perhaps it’s because he’s seen what could have happened to him.

A little less than two years before Kyle’s car accident, his younger brother Brent died at just 17 after a steroid he was taking for kidney disease led to an infection in his body. Brent died less than 24 hours after the infection entered his system.

Kyle understands that could have happened to him as well. Instead of moping and feeling sorry for himself, he enjoys every breath he takes.

Since the accident, Kyle has harvested eight deer, two turkeys and several dozen waterfowl with his crossbow and gun.

“I can tell you honestly that since this has happened, I can count on one hand the amount of bad days I’ve had,” Kyle said. “With my brother dying early, I know how much worse it could be. … You could sit around and mope and be pissed off all day, but you’re still in the same spot at the end of the day so why even do that? Be happy and go do stuff. Life is nowhere near over, there’s tons of stuff you can do still.”

And when he took the biggest deer of his life, he sent two texts to his friends. Ten of them showed up within 15 minutes to celebrate with their friend.

That’s the type of love Kyle feels every day.

“The friends and family, it all definitely helps me,” Kyle said.

“All the friends we have out here, and we have some awesome neighbors, too, they all let Kyle hunt all over around here,” Jeff said. “It’s pretty cool.”

___

Information from: Press-Gazette Media, https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com


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