Wildlife Refuge in Illinois Welcomes Hunters with Disabilities
The special deer hunt for sportsmen with disabilities was held at the Lost Mound Unit (former Savanna Army Depot) of Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge on Nov. 12 and 13, 2011. Hunters and their assistants were treated to the hunt of a lifetime. Field surveys showed the deer population to be abundant and the rutting season was in high gear.
This special hunt allowed each of the 25 hunters and their assistants to harvest a total of nine deer during the two day hunt. Months earlier, 32 hunters applied through random drawing through the Refuge. Successful applicants required a medical disability classification and to be accompanied by an assistant who was able to track and retrieve deer. The hunt was conducted in areas closed to public hunting due to the ongoing environmental cleanup effort. The warmer than normal temperatures and howling winds resulted in a total of 19 deer being harvested, including 12 does and seven bucks. The largest buck was an 8 pointer with a field dressed weight of 150 pounds.
This special hunt was held one week prior to Illinois’ First Firearms Deer Season. The participation by out of state hunters continued to increase since previous years. Hunters travelled from nine states, including Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Iowa, Wisconsin, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois.
An intriguing aspect of the hunt were the personal challenges of the hunters that included quadriplegics, paraplegics and amputees. One hunter, a quadriplegic, maneuvered his specially mounted gun on target by manipulating a controller box with his chin. When a deer was in the crosshairs, he blew through a tube to engage an electronic trigger to fire the shotgun.
To view pictures taken during the hunt check out the Flickr photoset: bit.ly/LostMound
Wildlife Refuge Manager Ed Britton was excited about the continued success of this program, saying “It was a high quality hunting experience by a special group of sportsmen. Their daily challenges of life were overshadowed by the enthusiasm and determination for deer hunting. They provided both inspiration and encouragement to the staff and volunteers that administered the hunt.”
The disabled and youth deer hunts will be held at Lost Mound again next year. If you are interested in more information on these special hunts, contact the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge office at 815-273-2732.
For more information on the Midwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visit http://midwest.fws.gov.