I’ve been asked today by friends to turn over the website to retired LDWF agent Sgt. Duane Taylor. Glad to do it. Scott Bullitt, this is for you. No other words from me are necessary:
“For as long as I can remember, I have always felt uneasy around anybody that was handicapped. I have no idea why. Maybe it is because I have never had a very close friend or relative in that situation. When passing a handicapped person in a store, I have always spoken to them, and even felt sorry for them, but beyond that, I have never really THOUGHT about what that person goes through on a daily basis, and the courage some of them have to carry on. This all changed when my co-worker and friend was shot in the back while on duty.
I remember the day Scott Bullitt walked into the Region 2 office in Monroe. He was all decked out in his Class A uniform, fresh out of a grueling, 6 month academy, ready to meet any challenge that came his way. I was his field training officer for a month, and it didn’t take but a few days, and I knew Scott would make a great enforcement agent. He still had a lot to learn, but the energy he brought with him, even inspired me to “step it up a notch”. I worked with Scott as often as our schedules would allow, and passed on the experience that I had gained over the years. I retired in 2013, and was not the least bit surprised when I learned Scott had been promoted to Sgt. in Ouachita Parish. I called him to congratulate him and told him he had some mighty big shoes to fill,, and not to be surprised if it took two agents to fill my spot. After retirement, I kept in touch with several of the agents, including Scott. It may not have been anything more than an occasional text message to find out how everything was going, but when you work side-by-side with somebody for years, they are no longer a co-worker, but a friend.
I was on Lake Fork in Texas enjoying retirement, the day a friend with the Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office called me and asked me the question “what agent just got shot”? The only response I had was “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT”. He informed me that an agent had been shot in Ouachita Parish. I just stood there for a minute. A jillion things started running through my mind. Who was it? How were they? After a few minutes of just sitting there with a blank stare on my face, I finally started to call Region 2 agents, to get any information. I finally got an agent to answer and they filled me in. Basically, I was useless the rest of the trip. I stayed in touch several times daily to get any information on Scott that I could. It was a long ride from Texas to say the least. After Scott finally got home, I went over for a visit. When I saw him in that wheel chair, it was like a ton of bricks being dropped on my chest. I just stood there for a minute and stared. Something I had always tried to avoid was now staring me eye to eye. There was my friend and co-worker confined to a wheel chair. I somehow kept my composure while I was there. I thought well, I have avoided this situation for 51 years, now I am meeting it head on. What do I say? How do I say it? Am I supposed to be myself, or do I have to change because something happened in their life that changed them? After that first visit, I left with a different outlook on those confined to a wheel chair. I now realized that with his will and determination, basically the difference between the Scott I knew prior to the shooting and the Scott I know now, is only his ability to walk. Over my years, whenever I encountered any situation that I wanted to have a successful outcome, I only THOUGHT, I had the will and determination to see it through. Folks, if you really want to know what will and determination really is, just hang out with Scott for a while. I promise you that unless you or somebody you know is already in this situation, you are like me, a novice.
Last year Lt. Thomas Risser and I took Scott to my camp in Claiborne Parish for the handicap gun hunt. I had absolutely no idea what this would require. We only had two stands (ground blinds) that due to their size, I felt confident we could even get him and his wheel chair inside and have room for Risser and I to sit with him. This hunt went off without a hitch, and Scott made his first deer kill while sitting in his wheel chair. This year, I promised Scott another trip to the camp. Even if no deer showed up this time, just sitting around the campfire and telling old hunting stories, can work wonders on a person’s mindset and even if only for a brief time, can cause one to forget a lot of their daily problems.
This year, the trip could not have gone easier. Both Risser and I knew what needed to be done. We knew the obstacles we hit last year and were ready when they arose. This year was a repeat of last year. We got Scott in the stand and shortly after daylight, he had a doe in the crosshairs. For the second year in a row, after Scott pulled the trigger, I had a thousand emotions going through my head, yet somehow managed to keep them in check. Until somebody has been there personally, there are no words that I can use that will adequately describe that feeling. This story is not about a huge monster buck being killed by a guy in a wheel chair, in fact, it is not really about deer hunting at all. It is about one friend’s ability and sheer determination to overcome a life altering setback. A setback that if it occurred to me, makes me wonder if I have the determination to carry on. Anybody can be a “Monday morning quarterback” and speculate on how they would handle any situation thrown their way. Until this situation hit me head on, I was no exception. However, after spending time with Scott, the thought never leaves my mind. What if this happens to me, or one of my kids. How will I REALLY react? Will I have the same strength and determination to not only view life the same, but to carry on as well? I would like to think I could, but until faced with it, all I can do is speculate.”