The "Swamp Rat" has become my "Legs."

(1998 Version)

You can only go so far in a wheel chair, I knew I needed some kind of machine to get me where I wanted to go. A good deal on a used Honda Odyssey got the ball rolling. When I brought it to my GrandFather to look it over, he was not impressed at all. I hadn't really taken the time to think about the pull start, and the fact it had no reverse. It was also not to easy to get in and out of. So later that night he called me to tell me he had ordered a Carl Heald Tryke. He put it together when it arrived, and it felt good to get on it and go. We went right to work, mounting an old wheel chair frame in the small bed in back of the seat, with that I could drive to where I wanted to, park and transfer to the back, it became my "Stand." Unfortunately it was not designed to go or be used in the places I was trying to go. It was only two wheel drive, and I found out the hard way, that it was not too stable on rough ground. I pushed it, I'll say that. Rolled it a few times, and got stuck between two big rocks once that I thought I could get through. Luckily, I left a map as to where I would be hunting that day, after a couple hours past sun down I was "Rescued" by my father. That machine wore out after four years of hard use and I ordered the Carl Heald Four wheel machine. My neighbor, a "Jack of all Trades," came up with a way for me to work the gas and brakes by hand. I was disappointed that there was not a major difference between the two machines. I still got into trouble, I can look back and laugh about all the times I got stuck, and tipped it over now. At the time it was frustrating. It did the job the best it could for the next four years. Both machines showed me alot. Then I saw an advertisement for the Polaris Big Boss 4X6, and wanted one.

In 1990, I was able to buy a "Big Boss." Even before I bought it, I had drawn up plans for a Roll Cage to put on it. I also made sure it fit in my Dodge Dakota, which it did perfectly. It quickly showed that it was nothing like the "Buggies" that came before it. Much more stable, and with four driving wheels, it seemed to want to go almost anywhere. I wasn't to thrilled about it having a two cycle engine, but it had an automatic transmission and a go anywhere attitude.

It has gone through a few transformations to get it where it is today. The first Roll Cage proved to be too top heavy. The idea was not so much for protection as I needed something to grab and pull myself up into the seat mounted in the back. So another lighter Roll Cage was made, with removable sections that surrounded the bed. Those camouflaged sections are only used when I Bow Hunt. The seat mounted inside the bed, took some time to get right. I started out with a pedestal Bass Boat seat. It broke twice at the wrong time during Hunting season. Finally I took an old wheel chair, pulled the tires off, and my Uncle made a sturdy frame that fits inside the bed. The chair was then mounted on that frame and I can turn a full 360 degrees. When I pull myself up into it, I'm about seven feet above the ground. A few cans of camo paint were used to camouflage the body. A seatbelt proved to be a must this helps to keep me on it!

The "Rat" hauling my Spike Horn out of the woods in NY.

The "Swamp Rat" in the last seven years has taken me to places I probably would never had seen. It is at home on old logging roads. With its nine inch ground clearance it can go through a lot of Mud, Snow, Water and over small logs in its path. It rarely complains when I ask it to Blaze its own trail. I have gone under, over and through all kinds of stuff in my travels.

My way is not for everyone. I introduced the "Rat" to a few Para's, most found it hard to steer at first. Once they got used to it they liked it. I find it to be no problem but that seems to be the most common complaint about it. I have tried the John Deer five wheeler and did not like the steering of that machine at all. It wanted to "plow" the front end forward instead of turning, you had to just about come to a complete stop to turn the thing. The Big Boss may not have power steering but you turn the handle bars, she goes where you point her. Getting to the seat mounted in the back was another matter. Only one "Para" was able to get in it, this with some difficulty. It does require a good deal of upper body strength to get into that seat. I pushed all measurements to the max, wanting to gain as much height as possible. Having done it for so long, I usually have no problem hauling myself right up there. The height of that seat depends upon what one wants. I could lower mine but choose not to. When it comes to a machine to get into the woods, I'm sure even a Golf Cart could do in a pinch. It depends on the lay of the Land and how far you want to go. There are all kinds of ATV'S that could be utilized. All it takes is a little thought about what you want to do and how to do it. I do highly recommend Polaris, their Big Boss I think is the perfect platform for a moveable Hunting stand and it will get you where you want to go. There is plenty of room for a seat of any kind inside it's bed and one's wheel chair can also be carried into the woods on it. Now they have the Magnum 6x6 with a four stroke engine. Can't see anything better than that.

The "Rat" before it's face lift, first year I used it.

I understand that it maybe difficult for those on Disabilty to obtain a machine like mine, I was lucky most of what I have came while I was working. Having loving parents that have always been there for me, and allowed me to be me has helped too. I could not begin to ever pay them back for what they have done for me. After getting laid off and ending up having two major operations, I am now on Disability and having to go without somethings.

Two old farts goin to cut some wood.

I have lost track of all the Deer and other wildlife I have seen while sitting on my "Movable Stand." I have seen a lot, and I have been lucky enough to take some nice Deer using it. The guys I hunt with are spoiled, it hauls them into and out of the woods. It has hauled a few Deer out of the woods, too.

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"Lewis and Clark Tribute"

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