On Saturday I had the pleasure to go hunting with Whitetail Management Associates of Pittsburgh. They set up a special doe hunt for four hunters with disabilities. All of the members gave up their first day of archery season to get us into blinds, drive deer and assist us hunters with disabilities.
The day started early for our host Ryan, he was up at 2:30 AM putting a whole pig on the smoker, and getting everything ready for our arrival at 5:00 AM. We would be hunting on his farm where he built several ground blinds specifically for wheelchair users.
After saying hello to several volunteers which I have met over the years, we were off to the ground blind. By 5:30 AM, Beth and I were sitting in the middle of an apple orchard waiting for a mature whitetail doe to walk by. The weather forecast was severe rain, but the rain had not started yet.
About 7:00 AM we were able to spot this buck 20 yards from my blind. Unfortunately it was Doe only, so all we could do was take pictures.
By 8:00 AM several doe had been by the ground blind, unfortunately my limited mobility kept me from taking an ethical shot. That did not stop Beth from taking pictures.
9:00 AM brought the rain. This rain would continue all day until 8:30 PM. I felt really bad for the volunteers who were driving deer to the hunters. They never complained and could not do enough to assist us. They were successful in pushing at least 11 deer close by me, but again I could not take the shot. At 11:00 AM they came to take us back to the barn for a lunchtime feast!
I quickly learned that one of the hunters (Mike) who happens to be a double amputee was successful in taking two doe with his Tenpoint crossbow. Zach and Bob had the same results as me, seeing lots of deer but were unable to pull the trigger.
Lunch was fantastic and I was able to speak with two Pennsylvania game commission officers about their work in the commonwealth. One of the officers, Jack, told me an interesting story about recently rescuing a buck from a well and another buck that was tangled in a soccer net. I also spoke with a few of the hunters who will be joining me this year on my bow hunt in Illinois.
After a few hours in the barn enjoying the great food and camaraderie of the other hunters, we loaded up in the rain and headed out to a new location using a portable blind.
The evening hunt was almost an exact copy of the morning. I was seeing lots of deer; unfortunately I was unable to get on them. Hunting with a disability can be very challenging which makes the rewards that much sweeter. Legal shooting light eventually came and I had to quit for the day.
Some people may not view this hunt as being successful, because I did not harvest a deer. I know it was successful because I had the opportunity to hunt with great friends and experience bow hunting again in Pennsylvania.
Thank you to all the volunteers at Whitetail Management Associates for all you do for individuals with disabilities every year. I’ve made some great friends within your organization and really appreciate everything you do for conservation and the sport of bow hunting.