Hunting access for all across the region
November 1, 2017
A white-tailed deer taken during a non-ambulatory hunt. Photo by Tina Shaw/USFWS.
From waterfowling among the cattails to scoping deer in the oak savanna, sportswomen and men of all ages and backgrounds turn to national wildlife refuges for rewarding hunts. We work with our state partners and other conservation organizations to provide hunting opportunities for all by hosting events for hunters with mobility, vision and other impairments. With the proper access, facilities or assistance, everyone can enjoy a safe and successful outing. Here are just a few of the opportunities available across the region.
Camaraderie at Clarence Cannon
A hunter and his assistant. Photo by USFWS.
Since 2010, Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri has been hosting a deer hunt for sportswomen and men who have permanent mobility limitations or visual impairments. Each year, nine hunters are randomly selected to participate. Even if they don’t take a shot, hunters enjoy seeing deer and other wildlife roaming across the beautiful fall landscape. For many, the experience is a success thanks to the camaraderie, support and appreciation for wildlife they share throughout the weekend. Hunts like these take a lot of planning and logistical support. We are pleased to have the help of long-time volunteers Ed Smith, Don Tabor and Ted Silverberg as they work with our staff of six to provide assistance and navigation logistics for a safe and rewarding hunt!
Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1964 to provide feeding and resting areas for migratory birds along the Mississippi Flyway. If you’re interested in participating next year, call the refuge to learn more or visit them online.
Friends make the difference at Crane Meadows
A hunter and his assistant. Photo by Greg Dehmer/USFWS.
At Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota, Friends and volunteers go above and beyond! This year, in addition to providing logistics and support for hunting events, they coordinated a multi-donor campaign to fund and build fully accessible hunting blinds. Friends of Crane Meadows and more than 20 volunteers dedicated more than 330 hours to assist refuge staff with setting up blinds, sighting rifles, transporting hunters, tracking, field dressing and cleaning deer. From start to finish, the Friends are present to mentor hunters and work together to help ensure a rewarding hunt.
Hunters who are 12 or older and have a mobility, vision or hearing impairment can apply for this event. A hunter safety certificate is required. We work in collaboration with Options: Interstate Resource Center for Independent Living to review and select hunters.
Decades of waterfowling at Trempealeau
A hunter takes a shot with the help of an assistant. Photo by USFWS.
For almost three decades, Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin has been coordinating waterfowling opportunities for hunters who have a permanent physical impairment or who are legally blind. The overall goal of this event is to create opportunities that allow people to hunt in the way they feel most comfortable - whether by boat, on land in the cattails or in pop-up blinds. Participants bring a partner, often a family member or long-time friend, to assist. For many, this is the only time they’re able to share the experience with someone important to them.
Partnerships are essential for successful hunts. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides staff and equipment to help meet the needs of each hunter. Several retired staff still come out to volunteer and many assistants take time off work to make it to the event. The Friends of Trempealeau Refuge provide morning coffee and snacks along with a hot lunch. These gathering times are an important part of the event, allowing hunters to exchange stories, compare techniques and think about new approaches. Learn more about hunting at Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge.
Fully accessible hunting at Upper Mississippi River
A hunter takes aim using adaptive technology. Photo by Tina Shaw/USFWS.
For almost a decade, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge has been hosting events for mobility, hearing and vision impaired hunters at the Lost Mound Unit near Savanna, Illinois. Deer hunting is a common occurrence on national wildlife refuge lands, but not many places offer fully wheelchair accessible hunts of this caliber. The refuge has drive-up ready hunting blinds and also offers hunting locations that can be adapted around the unique needs of the hunter. Learn more about managed hunts at the Lost Mound Unit.
Learn more about hunting opportunities on national wildlife refuges near you and plan your visit today!