A Special Hunt

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Like any other 15 year old, Ben Dallin was excited about harvesting his first deer with his grandfather’s rifle. While Ben has hunted upland game and waterfowl, he has never tried to hunt mule deer. So when he was successful in drawing a youth tag in big game management area 10 in Elko County, he and his father Norv Dallin started preparing for the hunt.

Young Dallin says he loves the outdoors and challenges that go along with it, but what he calls a challenge, many people might call an obstacle. Because what makes this hunt so special is that Ben has been blind from birth. And what makes Ben so special is that when asked about the challenges of the hunt, he never once mentioned his disability as one of those challenges.

“It was a pretty cool experience,” says Ben. “A friend let us hunt on his land near Lamoille. So we went out and found where the deer were crossing and set up a table and chair so I could have a place to sit and rest my gun’s bipod.”

That is important since Ben’s father has to do the sighting for Ben and then tell him when to shoot. Originally Norv held a mirror up to the scope and tried to site the gun in from the side. “That didn’t work too well,” explained Norv, “So I got behind Ben and looked directly through the scope, which worked better allowing Ben to successfully harvest a deer with one shot.”

When asked how he would describe himself, Ben replied, “Pretty adventurous I guess, I like to try new things.” He says that while he couldn’t say any one thing was his favorite, being in the outdoors is right near the top, because his family loves the outdoors and he loves being with his family.

“I really love hunting,” explains Ben, “It gives me a chance to be in the outdoors, there’s suspense and it is a pretty good experience, all around.”

Ben has done a lot of bird hunting and has been quite successful at it. The deer hunt was more of a challenge because he had to be much more precise with his aim. A rifle has only one projectile and it must hit a large animal in precisely the right spot, while a shotgun puts out a pattern of shot, making it easier to hit the target.

Ben is also very active in school, sports and extra curricular activities. Ben is a member of the National Honor Society, on the Quiz Bowl team at school, a first class boy scout, a percussionist in the Spring Creek High Marching Band, a member of select choir, jazz choir and he is on the Utah state goal ball team. Ben wants others who have special challenges and needs to realize that, “You can do just about anything you want. You just have to figure out a solution to do those activities that come easily to others. You can have just as much fun as anyone else."

He doesn’t try to make his disability an issue, but he has had to learn to use and develop other senses that sighted people tend to ignore such as hearing, smell and touch. He realizes that he has disadvantages that sighted people may not have and looks for ways to overcome those disadvantages.

For example, walking on uneven ground with plenty of obstacles while hunting is very difficult for him. He and his father work together at finding their way through the sagebrush with his dad leading the way and warning Ben of obstacles. Though Norv is quick to add that, “After dark, Ben has an advantage and helps guide me sometimes.”

Norv and Ben both want people with disabilities to know that there are resources available and that they often rely on the experience of others to find solutions to their challenges. Kevin Hull of the Nevada Bureau of Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired in Elko helped the Dallins improve upon the idea of using a mirror on the scope.

Places to go for help or information include the National Foundation of the Blind, National Foundation for the Blind, school counselors and the Nevada Bureau of Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired. The Nevada Bureau of Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired web site is http://detr.state.nv.us/rehab/reh_bvi.htm.