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    Disabled hunters enjoy outdoors/Disabled hunters head for the woods

    Disabled hunters enjoy outdoors
    Jimmy Watson / The Times
    Posted on November 24, 2002

    Shane Bevel

    Tommy Jones (left) from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers loads a .243 for Travis Poston (center) while Steve Murphy (right), with the National Wild Turkey Federation, looks to see where Poston's bullet hit the target. Poston was in a motorcycle accident in March and lost his left leg and the use of his right arm.

    Blanchard's Jerry Lewis sat in his wheelchair in the cool morning air deep in the woods at the Bodcau Wildlife Management Area a few miles north of Haughton.

    Not long after daybreak, Lewis, confined to a wheelchair after having both legs amputated because of complications from diabetes, heard some rustling in the leaves. Lewis lifted his shotgun to his shoulder and paused, hoping to see a deer rumbling through the woods.

    "My heart started pounding and I had a lot of memories racing through my mind about how it felt to have a deer come running at me," Lewis said. "I'd forgotten about the adrenaline rush you get from that."

    Lewis was at Bodcau Saturday along with eight other disabled hunters participating in the Wheelin' Sportsmen program of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The outreach program, begun in 1996, allows disabled individuals to enjoy benefits of the outdoors, including hunting, camping and wildlife photography.

    The NWTF's goal is to give the more than 50 million disabled people in North America the opportunity to overcome barriers that prevent or limit them from being outdoors.

    The inaugural local event was sponsored by the North Louisiana NWTF chapter, which has more than 400 members.

    "Some of us attended a NWTF regional conference last year and decided to introduce this program to our area," NWTF state board member Shelley Frye said. "It's been inspirational for us to see these disabled hunters enjoy something we take for granted."

    The rustling Lewis heard turned out to be a squirrel scrounging for acorns and he didn't harvest a deer during the morning hunt on Bodcau, his first hunt in several years, but that didn't stop him from enjoying his outing.

    "This is the most fun I've had since 1969," Lewis said. "I'll definitely be back next year. You have to take your hat off to these people for holding this event for us. Everyone has been wonderful."

    The Wheelin' Sportsmen weekend began Friday morning with the disabled hunters getting a brief shooting test on the Bodcau shooting range. A banquet and auction was held at the Bossier Civic Center Friday night to raise money for the Wheelin' Sportsmen program.

    The hunters were treated to the banquet and were fed throughout the weekend by the Turkey Federation. The only cost for hunters was transportation and housing, if needed.

    "The banquet was one of our most successful ever," Wheelin' Sportsmen Regional Coordinator Steve Thomas said of the event that raised nearly $6,000. "For a first event, the people in this chapter did an outstanding job."

    The participants hunted Saturday morning, were fed catfish at the Durden House on the WMA, then hunted again Saturday afternoon. Lewis was an avid duck and deer hunter before diabetes took that away from him.

    "It's like being in a card game. ... You take the hand they deal you and you learn to deal with it," Lewis said. "You can't get down about being disabled because people start feeling sorry for you. I don't want that."

    Several members of the local NWTF chapter served as guides for the hunters and others cooked catfish for the hunters' noon meal. A Balantine Ambulance Service paramedic was voluntarily on hand in case she was needed.

    "In the past three to four years, the only injuries we've had at an event is one person getting stung by a bee and another getting a splinter in their hand. But since we're at a remote location, we like to be prepared," Thomas said.

    Local NWTF chapter members are already planning a second Wheelin' Sportsmen event for next year and hope more disabled hunters will participate.

    "It's a lot like raising a baby - you have to learn as they grow," Frye said. "Everyone told us they enjoyed the outing, even if they didn't shoot anything. I just wish there were more opportunities for these folks to enjoy the outdoors."

    The North Louisiana NWTF chapter will hold its annual banquet March 20 at the Shreveport Civic Center. Corporate donations and ticket reservations are already being accepted by calling (318) 742-6344.

    Want to help

    If you would like to sponsor a Wheelin' Sportsmen National Wild Turkey Federation outing, you can call (800) THE-NWTF. If you would like to participate in a local event, call Richard Roberts at (318) 742-6344.

    To learn more about the organization visit

    [This message was edited by Max on Nov 25, 2002 at 12:23 AM.]

    Disabled hunters head for the woods

    Disabled hunters head for the woods


    By: Paul Sloca, The Associated Press

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Like thousands of others in Missouri, Chris Richey headed to the fields and woods this weekend to hunt deer. The 17-year-old LaMonte high school student planned on getting up early to stake out a spot, hoping for a repeat of his success of last year.

    His enthusiasm is like that of most hunters, although his circumstances are different. Richey has spina bifida, a spinal ailment that he's had since birth that results in partial paralysis. Richey hunts from a wheelchair.

    This weekend, Richey and 29 other disabled hunters hit the fields around Mark Twain Lake for a special deer hunt run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

    "I really like it,'' said Richey, who killed his first deer, a doe, last year. "I think it shows that people can do something if they want to. I don't feel like I'm limited.''

    The corps runs a handful of special hunts during the fall. The Mark Twain hunt coincides with the final weekend of the state's firearms deer hunting season.

    Shelly Howald, the corps' park ranger at Mark Twain Lake, said the first year of the program had just two hunters. That number steadily increased as more people became aware of the hunt.

    "It grows because people understand there is the opportunity there,'' Howald said. "Things that we take for granted, the ease of walking through the woods, they can't do it. This is another population we reach out to.''

    About 75 volunteers, most of them experienced hunters, will work through the weekend lending assistance where it's needed in the 1,200 acre recreation area at Mark Twain Lake near Monroe City. Men, women and young people all participate in the hunt. They are required to take hunting safety classes and must have deer hunting permits and gear.

    Applicants for the special hunt must have permanent disabilities that require the use of wheelchairs, braces, crutches or canes. And they must provide details about their medical conditions and needs. Since the program began, there have been no accidents during the hunt, Howald said.

    Missouri is not the only state with a special hunting program designed specifically for the disabled. In Illinois, the state has a Disabled Outdoor Opportunities Program for hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Illinois lawmakers recently passed legislation allowing the disabled to hunt from modified all-terrain vehicles.

    Jim Low, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said hunting opportunities for the disabled in Missouri are organized at the regional and local levels. In cases where disabled hunters want to participate in managed hunts, they are given preference over other hunters.

    "We ensure that they have a wealth of opportunity to participate in these hunts,'' Low said.

    Howald said Mark Twain volunteers provide meals for the hunters and also help process a deer when one is killed. More importantly, the volunteers keep an eye on the hunters.

    "People that are paraplegic or quadriplegic have no sensation of cold or hot,'' Howald said. "They have many problems beside moving a wheel chair through woody vegetation. The elements and not knowing whether your feet are cold are a real challenge not only to hunters but us as helpers.''

    While the state keeps a running total of the number of deer killed each year, Howald said that's not the purpose of her program. She said the hunt provides a sense of togetherness for those who are disabled.

    "It's very communal,'' Howald said. "Everyone shares in a kill. The success of the event is that we all made it and we brought one back.''

    Richey hopes to participate in many such hunts.

    "This is something I can do for the rest of my life,'' he said.

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      ...just another hobby you can enjoy even from your wheelchair.

      [This message was edited by krajaxa on Nov 29, 2002 at 10:47 PM.]


        Posting articles seems to be a pretty good hobby too.


          there is a few here that have been sucessful this year. I have two doe in the freezer.

          ...act like a survivor not a victim.
          T-10 complete
          "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO' what a ride!"


            I think this related to the topic

            Genetic Diversity Could Be Biggest Danger To Wild Turkeys
            WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- If wild turkeys again disappear from most of the countryside, it won't be because they ended up on dining room tables, according to Purdue University researchers.
            "The wild turkey was decimated by the 1900s, and although relocation programs created new turkey populations throughout the United States, many lack genetic diversity," said Gene Rhodes, a wildlife geneticist. "This has caused a genetic bottleneck that could ultimately threaten their survival."

            Small populations with limited genetic diversity can experience difficulties from inbreeding such as lack of resistance to disease and decreased growth rate, Rhodes said. When reintroducing any species, it's important to capture as much genetic diversity as possible to avoid these pitfalls, he said.

            But through the use of DNA--based genetic research, Rhodes and doctoral candidate Emily Latch are using cutting-edge technologies to help relocated wild turkeys survive the problems they face.

            Their project is directed toward the development of cost-effective genetic markers that can be used to assess genetic diversity in reintroduced wild turkey populations across North America, Rhodes said.

            By examining current genetic diversity in wild turkey populations, the researchers hope to predict viability of the species and create strategies for future wild turkey reintroductions. They expect to be able to apply their conclusions to other relocation programs across the country, not just for turkeys but all wildlife.

            The Indiana Wild Turkey reintroduction program was a model for similar programs throughout the United States, Rhodes said, and is the basis for this study. The program has been considered a successful conservation effort.

            Indiana's wild turkey population went from zero in the 1940s, when the relocation program began, to nearly 45,000 by 1995, Latch said. Now the numbers are estimated at more than 60,000.

            "Most Indiana populations were thought to have been established from a relatively few, closely related donor populations," Latch said. "By the time these new populations visibly show the effects of genetic loss, it may be too late to correct the problem."

            The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) kept meticulous records about various stocking strategies, which the Purdue researchers found helpful in the design of their genetic sampling schemes. The IDNR also helped in blood sampling and tracking.

            Large-scale surveys using DNA-based technologies will enable the researchers to detect genetic differences from very small samples and provide a great deal of data from each individual bird. These surveys will identify wild turkey populations that may have lost genetic diversity and suggest what supplements of genetic stock to introduce before their viability is affected, Latch said.

            "The use of DNA-based technologies enables us to detect small-scale genetic differences between individuals and to identify reductions in genetic diversity before they become insurmountable," Latch said.

            DNA technologies also allow the researchers to examine the amount of interaction between flocks in localized areas, such as state wildlife management areas, and to predict the potential genetic problems these flocks may be expected to experience, Latch said.

            Rhodes said this research will demonstrate to wildlife managers how DNA-based technologies can be used to create stocking strategies that enhance the genetic health of populations.

            Their work also demonstrates how fitness is directly affected by the loss of genetic diversity, Latch said.

            In the future, this research also may be used to maximize disease resistance in domestic turkeys. As free-range production becomes more prevalent and domestic turkeys are exposed to more types of diseases, it will be important to help predict any potential threats to such an economically important species, she said.

            The National Wild Turkey Federation and Purdue University provided funding for this research.

            Editor's Note: The original news release can be found here.


            Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued for journalists and other members of the public. If you wish to quote any part of this story, please credit Purdue University as the original source. You may also wish to include the following link in any citation: