As an outdoors writer, I often hear stories about hunters and anglers from Mohave County. Most are about the hunts or fishing trips that sportsmen have gone on.
But today’s story has a different twist.
It is about a pair of sportsmen from Lake Havasu City who, because of illness and ultimately death, donated some very special elk tags to fellow sportsmen so they could enjoy the outdoor experience.
Richard Schimmel was born in Wyoming and was engaged in outdoor recreation all his life. He enjoyed the great outdoors and he started hunting, fishing and camping at an early age.
Schimmel, his wife Anita and a young son moved to Lake Havasu City in 1969, where he worked on the re-construction of the London Bridge. Ultimately, Schimmel retired from the city of Havasu in the Parks and Recreation department.
During his time in Havasu, Richard worked for a number of businesses and was a very accomplished sign painter. Richard was instrumental in helping develop the archery program while a member of the Havasu Sportsman’s Club.
And Schimmel was proud to be a hunter education instructor.
Sam Manning is a name long associated with a sporting goods store in Lake Havasu City, Fisherman’s Bait and Tackle. Manning started the business in 1979 and he hired Schimmel to paint his name on his building.
That started a long friendship that resulted in them applying together for Arizona big game tags. They, along with friends and family, would spend many days in the field hunting, fishing and camping.
In 2016, the pair applied for two of the 25 any elk tags that were offered by the Arizona Game & Fish Department under the CHAMP (Challenged Hunter Access Mobility Program) in Game Management Unit 6A, which is located south of Flagstaff.
There are special medical requirements for those who apply for CHAMP tags.
As luck would have it, they drew the tags and the hunting trip to the north land was planned.
A mutual friend, Butch Wood who also lives Lake Havasu City, was not successful in his elk draw, so he volunteered to go on the trip to assist in any manner he could.
Because of the medical conditions of both Schimmel and Manning, it was decided that they would stay in their respective RV’s at the Mormon Lake RV Park, which was close to the area where the pair planned to hunt.
Wood, being more familiar with the unit, decided he would camp in an area closer to where they would hunt, and would meet them each day.
The hunt was set to open Oct. 21 and it looked like everything was set to go with these longtime friends and hunters when Wood received some distressing news from Manning.
Schimmel had developed a serious infection and was in the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale for treatment.
Unfortunately, Schimmel’s medical condition deteriorated.
The prognosis was not good and Schimmel was sent home.
During the last few days of his life, Richard discussed the hunt and tag situation with his family.
He did not want the tag to go unused, so he told his family that he wanted to donate it to another sportsman. Schimmel passed away Oct. 15.
One of Richard’s sons, Chad, did some checking and was able to find out that there were several organizations in Arizona that would be able to use the tag.
Enter Eddy Corona, who is a founding member of Outdoor Experiences 4 All. That organization is part of an umbrella of groups that includes the Wounded Warriors Outdoors and Safari Club International.
Manning, was also devastated by the news of the passing of his lifelong friend, decided that he did not want to go on the hunt without him.
So he agreed to donate his tag, too.
Despite the short time from when Schimmel passed and the start of the hunt, Corona was able to find recipients for both of the CHAMP tags through the Wounded Warriors Outdoor organization.
In Arizona there are a number of organizations where sportsmen who are unable to go on hunts can donate their tags.
Besides Outdoor Experience 4 All (www.outdoorexperienceforall.org) other organizations that can accept donated tags include Hunt of a Lifetime (www.huntofalifetime.org).
Organizations that qualify for transfer of tags to disabled veterans include Wounded Warriors Outdoors (www.woundedwarriorsoutdoors.org) American Hero Adventures, (www.americanheroadventures.org) Veteran Sportsman Alliance (www.veteransoportsmanalliance.org) Arizona Elk Society, Hunts for Heroes (raeannP@arizonaelksociety.org) United Special Sportsman Alliance firstname.lastname@example.org and Sportsmen’s for Heroes Foundation (email@example.com.