A Pennsylvania hunting group is making life a little better for disabled hunters with adaptive hunts.
Glen Lackey is the president of Pennsylvania’s Whitetail Disabled Hunting and Associates, an archery-only organization that creates opportunities for disabled hunters and mentored youth to safely hunt and harvest whitetails.
It started five years ago, after Lackey went hunting with a fellow veteran who was paralyzed from the waist down. The experience was so rewarding for them both, that he decided it should be available to all disabled hunters. That first hunt has now grown into a group of bowhunters that volunteer their time and experience to provide adaptive hunts to those who need them.
The group hunts on property in the Bethal Park area of Pittsburgh, where deer management has become a constant struggle. In an interview Lackey said that, “in some neighborhoods, they’re [deer] everywhere, eating gardens, destroying lawns, all over the roads.”
Although the group primarily focuses on whitetails to help manage the population, they also hunt turkey and coyotes.
Lackey and his crew hunt on the private property of 250 landowners who have granted the group permission to harvest game. During the last three years, over 100 deer have been harvested through Lackey’s adaptive hunts. Each deer is professionally processed and much of the meat is donated to local food banks through the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program.
Disabled hunters who have gone with Whitetail Disabled Hunters and Associates state that hunting helps them feel normal and allows them to do things that others do. For five years, the group has been taking hunters with sight limitations, mobility challenges, amputations, and youths who do not have hunting mentors out into the woods. Each hunter is licensed and must respect all regulations and safety zones.
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Some of these hunters qualify as disabled through provisions in the state Game and Wildlife Code. These hunters can use adaptive devices, do not have to follow antler restrictions, are allowed to use manual or electric wheelchairs and can shoot from a parked vehicle. But Lackey says they don’t do that.
We get them out in the woods, in a blind or, if they can make it, in a tree stand. We’ll track and drag for them and help however we can, but our hunters get as much of the full experience as we can give them. They’re outdoors, not shooting out of a van.
Whitetail Disabled Hunters and Associates accept no payment from the hunters they take out on adaptive hunts. The organization does not receive any outside funding, but they were recently offered their first product donations from Rage Broadheads and TenPoint Crossbow Technologies.