September 30, 2007

Sight-in Day - Disability Deer Hunt

My husband, Don, went on Michigan's first disability deer hunt last year along with seventeen other wheelchair bound guys---oops, make that sixteen guys and one gal. Between them, they harvested 7-8 deer. My husband was not one of them, but it didn't matter. He had a wonderful time doing the male bonding thing out in the woods and at the 'base camp.' In the 7 ½ years since his stroke, it was the first time he'd spent more than an hour away from me.

This weekend was the sight-in day for the second annual disability deer hunt that is sponsored by one of the chapters of the Wheelin' Sportsmen, NWTF. This time they have twenty-eight wheelchair bound guys signed up. At theses sight-in days, the volunteers help the disabled hunters find just the right combination of gun, tripod and other disability friendly aids to make it possible to hunt from either a blind or an all-terrain vehicle, using a special 'standing vehicle' license. The volunteers who put this well organized hunt together really understand what it means to life-long hunters to return to the woods. I can't say enough good things about these men and women.

My husband will be using a blind on hunting day that will be set up and ready for him at day break. Along with the blind comes a volunteer guide who helps him handle the gun, get to and from the blind and whatever else he'll need during the day. The blinds even have special wood floors to make it easier for the wheelchairs. If a deer is brought down, the guide calls a tracking team who goes after the animal, field dresses it, and brings it back to a brag pole at base came. Eventually another set of volunteers gets all the animals to a processor. All of this is free of charge to the disabled hunter. Later on I'll post contact information for the sponsoring organization. They're nation wide with many state chapters.

Unfortunately, as good as the volunteers are, no one made sure that Don's ear plugs were properly put in and he came home with signification hearing loss from the two hours on the shooting range. Monday I have to call the audiologist to see what can be done. Hopefully, just turning up his brand new hearing aids will do the trick. In the caregiver world, it's always two steps forward and one step back. As caregivers we want and need to trust others with our care recipients but then something like this happens and you're reminded of why that is SO hard to do....

Jean Riva ©