U.S. Army Corps of Engineers program gives physically disabled accessible hunting

The United States Army Corps of Engineers held its 24th annual Non-Ambulatory Deer Hunt the week of October 17.
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 5:13 PM CDT
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MARION COUNTY, Ark. (KY3) - The United States Army Corps of Engineers held its 24th annual Non-Ambulatory Deer Hunt.

The hunt consists of eight physically disabled hunters, who are veterans, first responders, or kids, who applied and were randomly selected from a drawing. It occurs in an overpopulated area of deer in Ozarks Isle near Bull Shoals Lake.

Hunters use black powder/muzzleloader rifles and are assisted to ground-level accessible blinds that are optimal for hunters in a wheelchair.

“We all see this, all the natural resources specialists and rangers that work this operation, we all see it as an honor and opportunity to give back just a little bit that has given so much,” said Kevin Patterson, natural resource specialist with the USACE Mountain Home Division.

Patterson is the hunt coordinator and works with other rangers to prep the site by setting up and supplying blinds for participants, in addition to baiting the area’s sight lines.

Some participants, like Jimmy Ashley, have been frequent attendees since the program’s inception in 1998. Ashley is a former sheriff of Mississippi County, an avid outdoorsman, and has formed the Disabled Sportsmen of Arkansas Group since becoming a wheelchair user in 1980.

“(I was a )Deputy sheriff for ten years when I got hurt in 1980 and got disabled, a matter of fact, 42 years this day,” said Ashley. “It has been a lot of opportunities. It has been a lot of hard times but a lot of good times too. It’s opened my eyes up to many things, but I gotta say I never hunted until I became disabled.”

With population control needed, the eight winning participants are encouraged to hunt as they wish, with no restrictions on what deer can be shot.

“It’s part of being our natural resources management program. It’s a deer herd reduction hunt,” said Patterson. “We encourage them to shoot all deer, not just a big buck.”

Following the harvest of any deer, rangers load, field dress, and get all meat on ice for the hunters to take home.

CLICK HERE to see other opportunities for mobility impaired hunts.

Arkansas is currently in its muzzleloader period. Rifle season begins on November 12 for both Arkansas and Missouri.

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