Some folks don't let anything hold them back...
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 4:34 PM PDT
A Big-game hunter
Wheelchair doesn't stop Ewald from his passion
By DON GRONNING
Ted Ewald has lived in a wheelchair as long as he has lived out of one after a 1968 head injury. He hasn't let it stop him from engaging in his passion, hunting. Here he is in his room with a few of his African trophies. Don Gronning / Daily Record
ELLENSBURG — Ted Ewald has hunted most of his life. His room at Dry Creek Assisted Living is a testament to that. A zebra, kudu, cougar and bear are just a few of the trophies displayed.
The surprising thing is that Ewald bagged most of these animals after being kicked by a horse while on a hunting trip in Idaho in 1968.
“I didn’t open my eyes again for five months,” says Ewald. “It took another 10 years to get my faculties back.”
He lost his ability to speak and Ewald needed a wheelchair to get around after the accident. He put hunting aside and concentrated on rehabilitation.
Twenty years after being injured, Ewald had a chance to go hunting again. A farmer in Davenport offered to bring six or eight people in wheelchairs to his land and let them hunt.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” says Ewald. “I thought all my hunting was gone forever.” So he broke out his rifle and did a little target shooting to prepare.
“It’s easier to shoot from a wheelchair,” he says. He uses a bipod to steady the gun barrel and uses his wheelchair table to lean on.
Since his injury nearly 40 years ago, Ewald has bagged a bear, an elk and a half dozen deer. That’s in addition to 13 animals he shot on two trips to South Africa.
He was given a special hunter award by the Safari Club International in 1995. The award was “in recognition of great courage, perseverance and determination to pursue the sport of hunting in the face of overwhelming odds.”
One of his most impressive trophy heads is a kudo, an antelope species that weighs nearly as much as a horse. He says he hit it shooting uphill from 586 yards away. One shot was all it took with his .300 Winchester magnum rifle.
Outsmarting the game is what Ewald likes best about hunting. Hunting from a wheelchair is different than the way he used to hunt.
“You stay in one place and eventually you’ll see more game animals than you would running around after them,” he says. “But you have to be patient.”
Last fall he got his first mule deer, about 15 miles north of Kittitas.
“I was lucky enough to draw a doe permit,” he says. “In all my years of hunting I never got one before.”
Ewald says elk are the most difficult animal that he’s hunted.
“You have to be in the right place at the right time,” he says.
These days, when not thinking of hunting, Ewald spends his time with a variety of activities at Dry Creek.
He is president of the Residents Council, shows movies five nights a week and plays pinnocle twice a week. Monday, three women from Briarwood Commons Apartments, another retirement center, were visiting Dry Creek to play cards, something Ewald initiated.
“I think he’s a great guy, he’s so easy to play cards with,” says Ellenor Donovon, who was visiting from Briarwood to play cards Monday.
“I know he’s really proud of his souvenirs,” says Roberta Potter, another card player from Briarwood. “It’s quite a jungle in there.”
“He’s quite a kidder,” says Anita Feezell, also a visiting card player.
Ewald was working at Kaiser Aluminum when he was injured. He was married to his second wife. The horse’s kick changed all that. He could no longer work and his wife left him.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” jokes Ewald. “I couldn’t remember marrying her anyway.”
Ewald has spent more years in a wheelchair than out. He says he doesn’t miss walking much.
“I’ve been doing without it for so long, it would be foreign to me,” he says.
His appearance is quite a bit different than it was before he got hurt. At the time of his accident, he stood 6-feet tall and weighed 243 pounds.
“The last time I weighed I was 187 pounds and I’ve probably lost weight after that,” he says. His weight loss secret?
“I push myself away from the table,” he jokes.
He also has a long beard.
“When I retired at 65 1/2, I was all clean shaven,” he says. “Then I thought why am I doing this? I don’t have to impress anyone.”
So he let his beard grow. There is one condition in which he will cut it, though.
“If I get an elk, I’ll have to shave my beard,” he says.
Stranger things have happened to Ted Ewald.
Good for him.
My friend is a quad, me and his dad have tried unsuccessfully to get him to go hunting.
We were going to build a crossbow that would mount to his chair and that he could shoot with his mouth.
He just has no interest in getting into the cold and waiting.
We are still hoping.
why wasnt he in nam
Maybe he'd already been? He was at least 25 in 1968, acc. to the article.