Special Events Offer Deer Hunting for Mobility Impaired

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Hunters who might ordinarily have trouble taking part in deer season will have access to special deer hunting opportunities at seven public areas this fall and winter.

Hunters who use wheelchairs, crutches, braces or canes to get around sometimes have trouble reaching good hunting spots. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) offers five special hunts on land around its reservoirs to help such hunters overcome those barriers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) offers a handicapped hunt at one of its Missouri wildlife refuges, and the National Park Service (NPS) has a handicapped hunt on land bordering the Current River for the first time this year.

Hunt dates and places include:

--Nov. 1-2 Clearwater Lake in Reynolds County, two openings. Contact Jason Wilson, USACE, RR3, Box 3559D, Piedmont, MO 63957. Phone 573/223-7777, ext. 35. Application deadline Sept. 5.

--Nov. 8-9 Truman Lake in Benton, Henry and St. Clair counties, 20 openings. Contact Larry Smith, USACE, Rt. 2, Box. 29A, Warsaw, MO 65355. Phone 660/438-7317, ext. 1212. Application deadline Sept. 30.

--Nov. 8-9 Stockton Lake in Cedar, Dade and Polk counties, 20 openings. Call 417/276-3113.

--Nov. 17-18 Wappapello Lake in Wayne County, five openings. Call James Gracey, 573/222-8562. Deadline Sept. 15.

--Nov. 22-23 Mark Twain Lake in Ralls and Monroe counties, 30 openings. Contact Allen Mehrer, at 573/735-4097. E-mail allen.mehrer@mvs02.usace.army.mil. Application deadline Sept. 15.

--Nov. 22-23 Smithville Lake in Clay and Clinton counties, 60 openings. Contact Bruce Clark, USACE, P.O. Box 428, Smithville, MO 64089. Phone 816/532-0174, ext. 10. E-mail bruce.k.clark@usace.army.mil. Applications can be requested starting Sept. 15 and must be received by Oct. 20.

--Jan. 3-4 Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Chariton County, eight openings. For reservations, contact John Guthrie, Rt. 1, Box 29A, Sumner, MO 64681. Phone 660/856-3323. E-mail swanlake@fws.gov. Application deadline Nov. 15.

Local organizations help out with some of the hunts. At Truman Lake, the Sunrise Optimists and the Warsaw municipal golf course help with meals, guides and other needs. The event starts with rifle sighting-in the afternoon of Nov. 7. Hunters have access to several blinds on 500 acres. They are responsible for providing managed deer hunt permit, rifle, ammunition and other equipment. They can take up to two deer, including one antlered buck.

At Mark Twain Lake, the Paris Lion's Club and volunteers from Monroe City provide guides and lunch and supper meals for hunters. Hunters provide their own firearms (shotguns with slugs only) and firearms deer tags valid in Unit 15. All participants, regardless of age, must have a valid hunter education certificate card. They have exclusive hunting access to the 1,200-acre Indian Creek Recreation Area and can take up to two deer.

At Smithville, the Kiwanis Club and Boy Scout Troop 394 of Kearney provide breakfasts and lunches. This hunt offers all-weather blinds, and guides are available on request to help hunters. You might need help, as this hunt allows participants to take up to three deer, including one antlered buck. All firearm and archery gear are allowed when hunting this 4,000-acre combination of waterfowl refuge and undeveloped park land.

At Swan Lake, the Mendon Lion's Club provides lunch for hunters both days. FWS employees, staff from the Missouri Department of Conservation and local hunters serve as guides, helping hunters get to and from heated blinds made of large, round hay bales. They also help hunters transport any deer killed. Hunters will have exclusive use of 3,000 acres for the weekend. They can take up to two deer, including one antlered buck, during the hunt. Only muzzle-loading rifles are allowed. Hunters can bring their rifles or use ones provided. All they must provide are managed deer hunting permit and lodging during their stay.

The first-ever COE hunt at Clearwater Lake has room for two mobility-impaired hunters on a 335-acre wildlife area. The land is oak-hickory forest with seven food plots. Participants will be allowed to take up to two deer, one antlered. Hunters must bring a managed hunt permit and a helper if needed. The hunt is for muzzle-loading rifles only.

In past years, participants in the hunt at Lake Wappapello were drawn to hunt for one day. This year, successful applicants will be able to hunt both days.

Besides increasing access to hunting opportunities for people with mobility impairments, several of these hunts also are important tools to control deer populations.