Assateague Island National Seashore held itâs second annual hunt for persons with disabilities on January 7th and 8th. This hunt was developed last year to address an overabundance of introduced sika and indigenous whitetail deer in the parkâs developed area.
Perfect weather and the hard work and dedication of volunteers and park staff kept smiles on the huntersâ faces. Sixteen hunters, ages 14 to 65, assisted by a dozen volunteers and staff from the ranger division, successfully harvested nine sika and three whitetail deer over the two-day hunt. The only female hunter, a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania who has spina bifida, took an amazing three sika deer in the first day. That would be an impressive record for an entire year but unheard of in a single day. Hunters came from as far away as South Carolina, New York and Pennsylvania to participate. Most were in wheelchairs or had prosthetic limbs.
The group âWounded Warriorsâ brought two severely injured Iraq war veterans, including one of the national spokespersons for the organization, to participate. Wounded Warriors is dedicated to helping severely injured returning servicemen and women work towards a productive and enjoyable lifestyle. Despite one being blind and the other only having good use of one arm, they not only had a great time but harvested two deer. Their enthusiasm and senses of humor inspired everyone.
The hunt was a cooperative effort with the national organization Outdoors Without Limits (OWL), a non-profit organization that provides outdoor opportunities for those with disabilities.
In one of the participantâs words, âthis was perfect!â
For information on these organizations and how to organize similar hunts at other NPS sites, contact Ted Morlock, the parkâs acting chief ranger, at 410-641-1443 ext. 223 (office) or 443-614-9895 (cell).