Missouri Deer Hunting: Opportunity for All
Lake hunt also welcomes hunters who use other mobility aids, such as braces, crutches, walkers, or canes. This accommodates hunters like Bill Harrison of St. Ann, who broke his back and cannot walk far unassisted. He is touched by the volunteers’ dedication. “Most of the volunteers here are hunters themselves — that’s phenomenal,” said Harrison.
“They’re willing to give up a third of their hunting season every year.”
Shelly Howald of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bob Kendrick, of Monroe City, have organized the Mark Twain Lake Disabled Hunt since the first hunt in 1988, when one hunter with disabilities from Monroe City was taken hunting. “When I was young, one of my father’s friends was paralyzed,” Howald explained. “I saw that he couldn’t do what we could do outdoors. This hunt gives me an outlet and an opportunity to help others participate in outdoor activities that I wasn’t able to do with a friend.”
Kendrick works year-round to drum up financial and volunteer support for the hunt, recruit locals to build accessible blinds, and plant food plots. He works especially hard to provide a consistent source of good-natured teasing and laughs throughout the weekend.
“When the hunters arrive, the word ‘disability’ disappears. They’re just hunters,” Kendrick said.
Managed hunts for people with disabilities are held in most regions of the state, providing opportunities for more than 200 hunters annually. These hunts are held on public lands owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Managed hunt partnerships between the Department and these federal agencies, with the help of countless volunteers, provide high-quality deer hunting experiences for all Missourians — with or without disabilities.
Many Department-owned conservation areas also provide accessible hunting blinds or hunting access by reservation, as well ADA-accessible facilities to accommodate waterfowl hunting, archery, shooting, fishing, picnicking, and other outdoor activities. Find an area near you by visiting the Department’s Conservation Area Atlas online at mdc.mo.gov (click on Conservation Areas) or by calling your regional office.
The Power of Volunteerism
While I shivered in the volunteer tent, I spoke with volunteers who ranged in age from 11 to “old enough.” I was taken aback when the kids told me their ages, because it was hard for me to imagine myself volunteering on a frosty morning at that age. Josh Underhill, 13, of Monroe City, was already a seasoned volunteer, having