Ricky Miller lost his left leg below the knee in an accident in March 2006, but the way he's come back hasn't been accidental, at all.

A member of the "Phoenix Athletes Program" of Floyd Brace Company (http://www.floydbrace.com/) for people in rehab after accidents, illnesses and other grave health problems, Miller hasn't let his injury put a crimp in his love for the outdoors. Besides running in two 5K races and a 10K race, he's hit the ground running deer hunting, taking 10 deer his first year back in the woods and even designing a device that allows him to use a climbing stand.

 

When turkey season arrives, Miller's goal is to kill one gobbler, one special gobbler. He attained that goal the morning of April 14, hunting not on a fancy lease or private land, but in the Gaillard Lake area of the Francis Marion National Forest.

 

His gobbler weighed 18 pounds, carried an 11-inch beard and 1-inch spurs.

 

Miller had hunted the same area the previous Saturday with his 14-year-old nephew, Shane White, seeing four grown gobblers outside of gun range. He thought long and hard about tactics he'd need the next time he went in the woods, knowing he'd need to use a decoy because the area was so open.

 

Miller bumped one gobbler of its roost on his way in, but the bird didn't fly far, landing in another tree in the same swamp. He found an area where turkeys had been dusting, set up his decoys and settled down in front of a tree 15 yards away.

 

"I set my decoys 15 yards away from the dusting area, pointing away from the bottom. I wanted the birds to feel like my decoys were coming up out of the bottom, just like they did the week before," he said.

 

At 7:30, he made a couple of soft yelps on his slate call, and 15 minutes later, a gobbler thundered off a response.

 

"I heard it loud and clear, but I couldn't tell what direction it came from," he said. "I waited about five minutes in hopes he would give away his position with another gobble. I gave him a soft yelp, and only seconds later, he gobbled directly behind me."

 

Miller made his way to the other side of the tree and set up, with the gobbler moving back and forth in front of him 100 yards away, finally coming his way after he purred on the slate call. At 30 yards, the gobbler stopped, but behind some bushes that Miller didn't feel comfortable trying to shoot through.

 

"I knew he was losing interest quickly. I knew I had to make the next move," said Miller, who reached for his call, only to find that he'd dropped it between his legs.

 

"I took my right hand and started scratching the ground behind me," he said. "That was all it took for him to close the distance to a wide-open 15-yard shot."

 

Miller's Benelli shotgun was on the mark, with a 3-1/2-inch load dropping the turkey for good.

 

"Each year, I am after only one gobbler," he said. "That is a personal goal I've set for myself for the past six years running, since my accident. I have been determined to continue hunting even after the amputation of my leg."

 

Miller works for Floyd Brace, helping design and manufacture prosthetic devices, and he credits the Phoenix Athletes Program with helping speed his recovery.

 

"I made my way with confidence back into my favorite places in the woods. I continue to hunt and fish to keep my sanity," he said.