Blind hunter bags buck in southern Arizona

Blind hunter bags buck in southern Arizona
(Source: Pete Trejo)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - When Pete Trejo lost his eyesight in 2006, he had to learn how to complete simple daily tasks all over again.

With a detached retina in one eye and complications from diabetes in the other, Trejo went through rehabilitation for years.

He could read braille and walk with a cane, but Trejo missed his passion. He still couldn't hunt.

Trejo began researching online about blind hunters and what the Tucson native found encouraged him to reapply for a tag in 2013.

With his father by his side, Trejo tested out different methods to bag a buck.

His cousin, Richard Trejo, helped with modifications to his rifle. First it was an adapter for a phone to fit the scope, but there was a problem reloading with Trejo's bolt action rifle.

Then some risers fixed that problem, but Trejo said his phone would glitch or lose battery too quickly.

Finally, he locked into an app meant for training new hunters that would give his father full view of the target. The ATN X-Sight 2 provided a scope that could connect to a tablet via wi-fi.

He said it was incredible to be hunting again because their new system seemed to work, but Trejo didn't hit his target for almost four years.

They tried hiking to different spots, but the trek was too much for the father and son. Trejo said it became too frustrating after they fell on some rocks.

But it wasn't enough to keep them away from the outdoors.

"Impossible is just a word people use in order not to try," said his father.

The family welcomed Justin Clarno to their hunting party. Trejo joked that Clarno's ability to track and spot deer is almost inhuman.

"Someone will need a deer and he'll see a log and somehow the log turns into a deer," he joked as the group shot some target practice Monday morning near Three Points.

On the second-to-last day of Trejo's tag, Clarno spotted a deer around their site south of Arivaca. Trejo admits that his emotions rattled his steady hand.

"My heart, it just went nuts," he said.

Feeling defeated and deflated, Trejo went to sleep that night in December believing he missed his chance at a deer this season.

Clarno's keen eye gave the group another shot. He spotted a buck this time and everyone in the hunting party was ready. More than 300 yards away, the deer was theirs.

"My dad and I cried," said Trejo. "Justin was just was just unreal."

Hit or miss, Trejo said he planned to be back on the hunt next season. He's already applied for an elk tag and expects to hear back by April.

While Arizona Game and Fish does not keep records of successful harvests by blind hunters, Trejo said everyone he's asked at the department believes he's the first blind person to claim a buck.

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