By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Minnesota resident Keith Hanrahan came to Kim Kafka's ranch south of Havre for an elk but said he wouldn't leave until he got a Havre sweatshirt, too.
He got both. Hanrahan had the sweatshirt made for him at a local store. He shot the elk with a crossbow Nov. 16, the second day he tried for one.
Hanrahan came to Havre as part of a hunt he won at an auction that benefited the United Foundation for Disabled Archers. The hunt was offered by a local company, On Safari Hunting Adventures, as well as the Kafka game farm.
At the end of his visit, Hanrahan beamed with the memory of the hunt and praised the people of Havre.
"I've always had a desire to do a once-in-a-lifetime hunt," he said. He added that even if he had not gotten an elk, the trip would have been memorable.
Hanrahan mounts his wheelchair on the back of an all-terrain vehicle to get the mobility and elevation he needs for hunting.
This was the third year that Kafka has donated a bull elk to the organization, which comes as part of a hunt package arranged by On Safari Hunting Adventures, a company owned by Kafka and Todd Hanson. It's the first time that one of the disabled members of the national organization won the hunt.
Kafka said he generally donates two or three bulls a year to good causes.
"It gave us a chance to bring a national organization into town," Kafka said.
The organization has 1,500 members. Its president, Daniel Hendricks, accompanied Hanrahan on the trip to Havre.
Kafka said his ranch would continue to support the organization, known as UFFDA, with an annual donation.
Kim's wife, Cindy, who uses a wheelchair, said helping people with special needs is important to her and her husband.
"It's not the main focus of my life, being in a chair, but it's nice to have the opportunity to live as normal a life as you can," she said. "My husband and I both try to cater to those with special needs, whether through the ranch or through the church."
Hanrahan said he first practiced archery as part of his rehabilitation from a diving accident that put him in a wheelchair in 1981.
When he learned that the 1983 27th National Wheelchair Games would be held in Honolulu, he said, it motivated him to practice archery. In Honolulu, he took a bronze medal in the 300-meter event and in the 100-meter event.
Hanrahan hunted deer with a rifle when he was growing up, he said. When he started archery, he thought of bowhunting. He began with a compound bow, but moved to a crossbow when he learned that people with disabilities are eligible for permits to use crossbows in Minnesota.
In 1994, Hanrahan joined the United Federation for Disabled Hunters, the year Hendricks founded the organization.
He is also president of Capable Partners, a Twin Cities-based organization that provides hunting and fishing opportunities for disabled people.
Of his Montana experience, he said, "This is big game compared to what Minnesota has."
It was his first elk, he said. Next, he is considering a try for a mule deer, or a red stag in Australia.
But Hanrahan is still relishing the memory of his trip.
"It was phenomenal," Hanrahan said from his home in Minneapolis on Tuesday. "It was probably the time of a lifetime. Not only to get vacation and go somewhere new, to meet the nice people and get to that area and hunt that kind of animal ..., it's unbelievable at times."
Hanrahan was impressed the very moment he entered the ranch. "We get to the gate, and we're parting buffalo," he said. "That was so eye-opening."