JACKSON, WY— Doug Witwicky has built a life around adventure—one that even Multiple Sclerosis can’t slow down.
Witwicky, a 66-year-old resident of St. John’s Living Center, spent a full day hunting on Pape Ranch in Daniel, Wyoming on October 2, where he successfully shot and tagged a pronghorn antelope.
Witwicky has hunted his entire life—his room at the Living Center is adorned with skins and mounts of previous exploits—but it doesn’t come as easily as it once did. Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that affects the central nervous system over time, has eroded Witwicky’s mobility and speech, and confined him to a wheelchair. Still, he seeks out every opportunity he can to hunt.
This year, that opportunity came courtesy of Honoring Our Vets. The local nonprofit offers various activities to military veterans to “strengthen their physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning.” Honoring our Vets coordinated with the Living Center to get Witwicky out to the ranch, accompanied by two Living Center staff.
Sure enough, Witwicky earned his hunt with Honoring Our Vets. He served in the U.S. Navy for two years during the Vietnam War, aboard a minesweeper. He says he was never scared at war, nor has he ever been afraid on a hunt.
Witwicky was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis right as he was about to leave the Navy. But instead of giving in, he seized the opportunity to finish his education and pursue a life of hard work and adventure. He became a drafter for “The Pipeline” in Alaska (AKA the Trans-Alaska Pipeline). Then, his adventurous spirit carried on countless hunting and fishing trips through Canada and the United States. The wolf pelt on his wall in the Living Center came from Alberta, British Columbia. Same with the bear pelt that hung in Witwicky’s Rock Springs home before he moved to the Living Center.
Witwicky can’t count how many animals he’s hunted in his lifetime. More than 100, he guesses. His most recent pronghorn is being processed for meat, and the head is being mounted as a skull. But he’s running out of room on his walls for more trophies.
Still, Witwicky will hunt for as long as he is able. MS has limited his speech, so he only offers a few words at a time. But he only needs one to describe how hunting makes him feel, and he says it very clearly: