Trent Wiese of North Platte test drives an Action Track Chair through the North Platte River bottoms. Wiese suffered a severe spinal injury in a car accident 25 years ago, but never gave up on his quest for the outdoors. A motorized track chair can provide a tremendous increase in mobility and the ability to travel far more places than can be accessed by a wheelchair. Wiese is currently researching avenues for funding to be able to purchase such a chair.
Photo courtesy of Rick Windham
Windham: Mobility can make all the difference for some
Hunting in Nebraska is one of the most fun things I do. White-tailed deer hunting in Nebraska may be the pinnacle of my hunting year. I enjoy the planning, the scouting and all the pre-hunt preparations. While it may seem difficult at times for me to get where I want to scout a deer, I can’t even begin to imagine how much of a challenge it would be if I had to do it from a wheelchair. That is the situation for a local hunter, Trent Wiese.
I first met Wiese when he attended one of my Outdoor Seminars at Mid-Plains Community College. That had to be 12 to 15 years ago. I was impressed with his knowledge of the outdoors and outdoor related activities, but most of all I was impressed with his attitude toward life.
Wiese was severely injured in an automobile wreck in 1996. He was driving on the highway north of Benkelman and hit an Angus steer. The accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. It may have slowed him down, but it never stopped him from following his passions. Wiese has always been a hunter. Even after his accident, he and his Dad pondered, designed and engineered adapted techniques to keep him in the field. He hunts from a motorized wheelchair with an adapted tree stand rifle rest mounted to the frame of his chair. While this does give him some additional capabilities, a chair on wheels has limitations once you get off the pavement. “I’ve used a couple different methods, I used to have an old power chair that I would drive down to our hunting blind, but it got old and we could no longer get parts,” Wiese said. “My current chair has equipment on it that attaches into my van and allows me to drive directly from the chair, which is very convenient but prevents me from going off the beaten track because it gets hung up on grass and uneven pavement so we have to drive all the way into the areas we’re hunting. That can alert deer to you being there.
“I was doing some research one day and saw a tracked chair. That gave me a lot of ideas,” Wiese added. “A track chair would allow me to get back down on the river bottom easier to get to the prime hunting spots or even to shed hunt in the spring. A track chair would also help get back to other hobbies like fishing and radio controlled boats as my power chair is absolutely no good in areas with loose soil so getting around lakes here is just impossible.
“My most recent hobby that I’ve been trying to return to is photography,” Wiese continued. “I love landscape photography and the Sandhills have so many amazing opportunities for pictures but that is not something that my current chair is capable of getting me to.”
Enter Brent Urban of Blurb Outdoors into this equation. Blurb Outdoors is a Nebraska-based company, headquartered in Millard. Urban has been in business just over a year. “The Action Track Chair, which is based out of Minnesota, is specifically designed to get off road,” Urban said. “It is made to negotiate grass, fields, gravel, dirt, sand, etc. It can go through up to 10 inches of water. It can approach and climb up to 20-degree inclines safely. “This chair can be a major life changing event for someone,” added Urban. “It can increase a person’s independence and ability to go to more places. Increased access and productivity brings greater contribution abilities to work, personal and family life.
“Everything about Action Track Chairs is designed with the outdoor lifestyle in mind,” Urban continued. “They have special paint/powder coat styles and colors, LED lights, umbrella holder, gun/tool holders, different seating options, fishing rod holder, utility box, utility tray, carriers for full size vehicle and more.” Anyone interested in an Action Track Chair can check out the websiteactiontrackchair.com. The company makes seven models in various sizes and levels of adjustability. The ST model base price is $14,981. Pricing can be done online at actiontrackchair.com. You can contact Urban and talk to him about Action Track Chairs at 402-521-4550.
Now, all that is left is for Wiese to come up with the funds to get his chair. “I absolutely love every hunt I get the opportunity to go on, but I would love to go on an elk hunt, Wiese added. Knowing Wiese, I know he’s working on that. Rattlesnakes We have just finished up with a time of year, sometimes called “Dog Days,” where it can take a bit more caution it walk in areas where humans don’t travel often. This is the time of year when rattlesnakes shed their skin. While this is occurring, their eyesight is often impaired and they are on high alert for things they may not be able to see. They may strike just out of self-preservation instincts. They may not be able to rattle due to the shedding process, which makes being around them even trickier.
I have heard from a few folks recently who have run into rattlesnakes while out fishing. It is quite possible to run into a couple of species of rattlesnake in western Nebraska. Seeing a rattlesnake can be a bit unnerving but it is not necessarily dangerous.
Respect the snake and give it some distance. The snake is most likely moving from one spot to another. Give it some space and it will move away from you. Be mindful of where you are walking … as mentioned above, rattlers do not always make noise and are perfectly camouflaged for their environment, so keep a sharp lookout in rocky areas (canal banks) and tall grass. For canal anglers, morning and evening are likely times to encounter rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes move on to the road to get warm in the morning and the return to roads in the evening to stay warm as long as they can. Be watchful and careful.
You still have a day left to check out the Platte River Sportsman’s Club Gun & Knife Show at the D&N Event Center. Doors open at 9 a.m. and will close at 4 p.m. today.