Written by Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant
Each year for the last several years, I have had the opportunity to help at the sight-in day for the Truman Lake Managed Deer Hunt for the Disabled. This is a joint effort between the Masonic Lodge #653 in Warsaw, Mo., U.S. Corp of Engineers, and many volunteers. This year the sight-in was November 7th, at the Golden Valley Shooting Range near Clinton, Mo. with the hunt the 8th and 9th.
The hunt takes place in the Shawnee Bend and Berry Bend Park areas on Truman Lake. The hunt is limited to persons with non-ambulatory or semi-ambulatory disabilities. Special blinds are made where the hunters are able to get into them with their wheelchairs. The Missouri Department of Conservation has authorized the handicap hunters to take 3 deer, of which, only one can be an antlered buck. The number of hunters is limited to 22, but there is always a hunter or two that can’t make it at the last minute, or can only hunt one day, so there are always some alternates on hand to fill available spots.
Many of the hunters return year after year, such as Joey Gard, from Warrensburg, MO. This year, Joey had a Tikka rifle that he had custom stocked by Wenig Gunstocks in Lincoln, Mo. Due to Joey’s handicap, he needed a stock that was specially fitted to him. Although Joey didn’t get a deer this year, he is getting closer each year. It always impresses me the enthusiasm all the hunters have.
Eric Statler, also from Warrensburg, was also one of the hunters. I helped Eric with the sight-in and I was impressed with his shooting. Though Eric doesn’t have use of his arms, he operates the wheelchair with a sort of joy stick that he moves with his chin or side of his face. By moving the wheelchair left or right and tilting it forward or back is how he aims it. The scope has a screen about the size of a cell phone mounted on top where you can see the cross hairs in the scope. A tube which I believe he blew thru allowed him to fire the rifle. I was very impressed on how he could position the wheelchair, aim the rifle, fire and call his shots. He took a nice 130 pound doe with a double lung shot and only traveled 10 yards after the shot. **Eric’s nephew Zachary (Zac) Walton worked in our range last year before he left to join the Marines.
Over the two day hunt, 19 deer were harvested making several happy hunters some great eating.
I would like to thank all the many volunteers who make this hunt a success. If you know of a handicap hunter interested in applying for this hunt in 2015, contact information is listed below. You do not have to be a Missouri resident to apply for it either.
Contact: Natural Resource Specialist Rusty Callister at 660-438-7317 Ext. 3802
U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers
Harry S. Truman Project Office
Attn: Rusty Callister
15968 Truman Road
Warsaw, Missouri 65355-9603