Wheel chair does not slow Paul Prescher down
Being an outdoorsman is something Paul Prescher has always enjoyed. In fact he still enjoys hunting to this day. It is just not the same as it once was.
That is because on July 1, 2007, Paul fell out of a loader bucket and broke his neck and became what he describes as “an incomplete quadriplegic.”
“I have some movement in my feet and hands,” Paul explains.
It was quite a change for Paul who had always been very active, according to his wife, Ruth.
“Paul was very agile,” Ruth says. “He would jump out of tree stands when most people could not.”
Paul grew up on a farm south of Delavan and was a 1964 graduate of Delavan High School. He was a guard on their Border League Conference championship basketball team his senior year.
“We only lost three games my senior year,” Paul recalls.
Paul shares what he did after high school.
“After graduation I was in the Army National Guard for six years,” Paul comments. “Then I came home and started farming and raising hogs.”
Paul and Ruth were married in 1969 and they eventually had two daughters, Becky and Deb.
“I started as an outdoorsman very young in life,” Paul remarks. “Bow hunting is my favorite.”
It may be his favorite, but he has a long list of activities he has enjoyed over the years.
“Besides fishing, I have hunted pheasant, turkey and bear,” Prescher says. “I also went moose hunting up on the Gunflint Trail.”
And Paul has enjoyed sharing his love of hunting and fishing with many other people during his life.
“There have been many fishing trips to Canada with neighbors, people from church, relatives and other friends,” Paul shares. “I have also hunted with a number of different people.”
The fishing trips to Canada were quite an adventure.
“I think one of my neighbors discovered this place by accident,” Paul says.
The place he refers to is Pelican Narrows, Canada. Located in the province of Saskatchewan, it is almost 1,100 miles from Blue Earth. Winnipeg, Canada is about half-way between Blue Earth and Pelican Narrows.
Paul used to fly and own an airplane.
“I flew into Canada to fish many times and I also made the trip over the road a number times,” Paul recalls. “My father said it was one of the best trips he had ever had.”
When it comes to deer hunting, Paul has hunted in southeastern Minnesota, northern Minnesota as well as locally.
“He would take me everywhere,” his daughter Deb recalls. “I would sit at the edge of a cornfield with him when he was bow hunting or go fishing with him on Sunday afternoons after church.”
Deb recalls one particular special memory.
“I was always excited to go hunting with him,” Deb comments. “So it was special for me to be with him when he got his first bear.”
She says she also got in on the Canadian fishing trips.
“Once I turned 16 years old so I could contribute by driving, I was allowed to go,” Deb says laughing. “I made the trip twice before my own life became too busy to make the trip.”
Paul had been looking forward to retirement and bought a new boat to enjoy on the water.
“I was able to use it one year before I had the accident,” Paul states.
Amazingly, there was another incident before his 2007 accident which could have left Paul paralyzed.
“I was a bus driver for 25 years and was having some back problems. The doctors were working on diagnosing my back problem and also found a non-malignant tumor inside of my spinal cord,” Paul recalls. “I was afraid I would be a quadriplegic.”
On Nov. 6, 2001, doctors in Mankato removed the tumor from inside of his spinal cord. He was then sent to Rochester to learn to walk again.
Paul, who is described as a determined person by his family, did learn to walk again and resumed farming, hunting and fishing. Then, he had hip replacement surgery in 2002.
“He had some problems with his balance and he did not know if he was hot or cold,” Ruth explains. “He could be getting frostbite and not know it.”
He was fortunate to survive his accident in 2007. His son-in-law, Dan, who is married to Becky, was an Emergency Medical Technician and was able to keep Paul breathing until helped arrived.
“Paul was flown to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester,” Ruth shares. “He spent two months at the hospital before being transferred to a local nursing home.”
While Paul was working on his recovery, friends and neighbors gathered to harvest his corn crop for him.
As determined as Paul was to get through treatment, Ruth may have been even more determined her husband would return to their farm in Barber Township.
“The medical people kept asking me where Paul was going to go, what is your plan?” Ruth explains. “I told them I would be taking him home.”
The old farm house was easily converted to be handicap accessible and Paul can go from the house to the heated garage without going outside. He can drive his wheelchair around the yard when it is nice and come back inside through the garage and motor right into the house.
“I used to spend hours bear hunting with my four-wheeler,” Paul says. “I would travel deep into the woods.”
Now, if someone helps him, he can get into his Polaris Ranger and do some touring.
“But I think those days are coming to an end,” he says. “It is getting harder for me to operate it.”
He still dreams of getting another deer.
“I have friends who came up with a way for me to mount my crossbow on my wheelchair so I am able to use it,” Paul comments.
And so with everything he has faced, he keeps hunting, trying to get one more deer.
“I have been fortunate to be blessed with amazing friends and neighbors who help me and look out for me,” Paul says. “My friends and my faith have been so important.”
The love and sharing Paul has shown to his friends and neighbors has been returned many times over, according to Paul.
This is also the story of a loving and supportive relationship between Paul and Ruth.
“The only reason I am here is because of Ruth,” Paul says. “She has sacrificed herself for me and been there for me through all of this. She is the reason I am still here.”