Handicapped hunters brought home two deer and a coyote in a recent hunt organized by the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The Surry Longspurs, a local chapter of the NWTF, organized the “Wheelin’ Sportsmen” deer hunt on a recent Saturday in the Zephyr area west of Dobson.
A volunteer guide is paired with a person with disabilities for the day, explained chapter president Jeff Park. This year’s event totalled 26 hunters.
The Surry Longspurs provide firearms and set up blinds where the hunters can wait. Sometimes the hunters see prey, and sometimes they just get to enjoy a pleasant day out in the woods.
Park said these types of hunts are a little like the activities the Wounded Warrior Project, which gives veterans fun events to ease them back into regular life after being injured in the military. One key difference is that those who participate here don’t have to be veterans to join in.
Several Wheelin’ Sportsmen events are held locally throughout the year, including fishing and wild turkey hunts as well as the annual deer hunt.
After a long day in the field, the hunters come back together to swap stories and enjoy a meal. This time it was at a location on Kapps Mill Road.
Events like this require a lot of hard work from chapter members and other volunteers, said Park. “I can’t say thanks enough for everyone’s effort.”
These events also take money to host, he said, so the Surry Longspurs both seek out local corporate sponsors and hold fundraising banquets.
The next banquet is Feb. 26 at The Depot south of Dobson, said Park. Tickets have sold out around a month in advance, so Park suggests people contact him soon to reserve one of the 300 seats.
The ticket includes a meal, but then there are also raffles, silent auctions and live auctions going on during the evening, said Park. The prizes usually include 15 to 20 firearms along with accessories.
The NWTF recently informed the chapter that its Aug. 7 banquet at The Depot took first place for the best fundraising event in the federation.
Manus McMillian helped found the Wheelin’ Sportsman program about 11 years ago, said Park, so Manus will join him on a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, around Valentine’s Day to accept the honor.
From Feb. 11-14 the NWTF will hold its 40th-annual Convention and Sport Show at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center. This is a big event with an exhibit hall filled with products from about 600 companies and 50,000 attendees, according to Park. Country singer Sara Evans will perform a concert on that Saturday evening.
Jeff Park, who also serves on the board of directors for NWTF’s state-wide chapter, said the Surry Longspurs and other chapters are really good about giving back to their communities.
There are youth programs to teach children about responsible hunting, turkey giveaways to the needy, and scholarships to high school seniors.
Back in October, a sister chapter, Tri-County Ridge Runners, held an event called Racks and Rhinestones.
Local women had a chance to fire rifles, shoot a crossbow, and learn the basics in things like kayaking, fly fishing and muzzle loading.
On Jan. 8, the Surry Longspurs will hold their first-ever coon hunt for kids 17 and under, said Park.
The hunters will kick off the night program with a meal of hamburgers and hot dogs at 5 p.m. Then the night hunt begins at 7 p.m. and goes to about 8:30 p.m.
For each child taking part, the chapter is asking for a parent or guardian to chaperone.
To register a child for the coon hunt, contact Tony Martin at 469-2665.
To reserve a banquet ticket or to be a corporate sponsor, contact Jeff Park at 366-9111.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692 and on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.