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Paralyzed farmer uses John Deere tractor to hunt

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

John Whalen, a paralyzed farmer in Minnesota, uses his John Deere tractor to hunt, a favorite pastime that he refused to give up - even with his disability.
John Whalen, a paralyzed farmer in Minnesota, uses his John Deere tractor to hunt, a favorite pastime that he refused to give up - even with his disability.

John Whalen is a striking example of resilience in the face of adversity. The native Minnesotan, a farmer and outdoorsman, is paralyzed from the waist down because of a rare disease, but he has not let his limited mobility slow him down from enjoying farm life and nature.

Whalen, a gifted hunter, recently arrowed his first-ever wild turkey and scored an 8-point buck all without the use of his legs. Having hunted since high school, Whalen affirms that he could not give up his passion because of what he deems a minor setback. A friend and neighbor, Jim Vagts, declares that Whalen has "a very positive outlook," one that the "whole community admires."

To hunt, Whalen uses a mechanical lift to gain access to the cab of his prized John Deere tractor. He has a special disability permit that allows him to hunt from five feet above the ground in the used tractor, like a sailor mans a ship from the captain's deck. Whalen asserts that when hunting, "I sit by my front tire, up in the air like a deer stand."

His disability will not slow him down. The deer he shot last week was "my biggest deer," he proudly proclaimed. Whalen used his John Deere tractor to carry the deer back to his home and is excited that he can continue his favorite pastime. With his John Deere tractor acting as his legs, Whalen has not missed a beat. 

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