Deer Rut Welcomes Hunters with Disabilities

The deer rut welcomed hunters with disabilities to the Lost Mound Unit of Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Savanna, Illinois on November 14-15. Mother Nature reminded the hunters that it is November in the Midwest and provided sporadic downpours, hail and 60 mile per hour winds that ripped hunting tents from their ground staking.

Paraplegics, amputees and other physically challenged hunters participated in this special deer hunt. Thirty-three hunters and their attendants harvested 16 deer that included 9 bucks and 7 does. Ninety-four-year-old William Brown celebrated his 74th year of deer hunting. He has hunted deer every year since 1957, when Illinois began deer hunting. Double-leg amputees Cam Tribolet and Scott Hansen harvested 12 point and 9 point bucks, respectively.

Each year, the Refuge partners with outdoors and sporting organizations to make this hunt a success. The non-profit organization Ultimate Experience Outdoors, Inc. sponsored Brien Canty from Cross Roads, Alabama. It is the fourth year this organization has sponsored a disabled veteran, who often are new to deer hunting or are being re-activated to hunting.

This special hunt has gained national attention with hunters representing nine states. It provides a boost to the local economy with most hunters being non-residents or residents that traveled from central and southern Illinois. Other states represented were Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Down Deer Recovery, a certified United Blood Trackers provider, assisted hunters in recovering wounded deer. Owner/handler Seth Nelson with his bloodhound Kimber and German shepherd Maverick, successfully tracked several wounded deer. The dogs track the scent of a stress pheromone that is released from the deer’s hooves and is present along the escape path of the injured deer.

This special hunt is conducted in areas that are closed to public access due to ongoing environmental clean-up at this former military installation, the Savanna Army Depot. Over 1,000 youth and adult hunters have participated in this hunt since its beginning 15 years ago.

Lost Mound Site Manager Alan Anderson was excited about the continued success of this program and stated, “It is a unique hunting experience by a special group of hunters. Their daily challenges of life were dwarfed by the enthusiasm and determination for deer hunting. They provided both inspiration and encouragement to the Refuge staff that administered the hunt.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge was established in 1924 and contains 240,000 acres that extends along 261 miles of the Upper Mississippi River.

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