A special group of hunters from as far away as South Carolina and New York traveled to Assateague Island National Seashore on January 9th and 10th to participate in the park’s two-day deer hunt for hunters with disabilities. This is the sixth year for the event, which provides a unique opportunity for the mobility impaired to get outdoors and follow their passion.
Twelve volunteers assisted eight park staff in managing the hunt, which takes place in a portion of the park’s developed zone. The site’s paved roads and campground parking pads provide a hard surface and allow the hunters, most in wheelchairs, easy access to a relatively large area. The event has a perfect safety record.
“The weather cooperated, and everyone involved enjoyed two days of great hunting and camaraderie, said Ted Morlock, the park’s chief ranger. “It’s really gratifying to help these folks hunt the island. Because many have been coming for several years now, it’s also become a bit of a reunion”
The hunt was sponsored in part by the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Wheelin’ Sportsmen outreach program, and a local NWTF chapter, the Bayshore Gobblers. Wheelin' Sportsmen provides people with disabilities opportunities to get out and enjoy outdoor activities, such as hunting, fishing, bird watching and more. This year’s hunt was covered by a local television station and will be the feature story on a weekly outdoors show airing later this month.
Three Sika deer and one white-tailed deer were taken during the hunt. Sika deer are actually a diminutive species of non-native Asian elk and were introduced to Assateague in the 1920s. The park uses this and other public hunting programs to help control the Sika population on the island.