Missouri Deer Hunting: Opportunity for All
helped with the hunt since he was 9 years old.
“I like hunting, and I want these hunters to experience the same thing I get to,” Underhill said. Nathan Mehrer, 14, also of Monroe City, is a first-time volunteer, but he says he’s attended the hunt nearly his whole life. “I just want to let other people enjoy what I enjoy. It’s a family thing for me.”
The hunt marked Kenny St. Clair’s fourth year as a volunteer. He was motivated to help after his daughter was born with a disability. “I do it because I love hunting and helping people. A lot of people have helped me along the way. My daughter was born with a heart defect, so it’s a way to give back. We enjoy being out here with volunteers helping out.”
The theme of family is very strong at the hunt. Diana McKinney, the proudly self-proclaimed first female cook at the hunt, bustles around the makeshift outdoor kitchen prepping onions for huge vats of coleslaw.
“This is my Christmas,” said Diana. “I really enjoy it. It touches my heart, and there is no greater feeling.”
Nearby, Tera Kisar, of Monroe City, works amid the steaming fryers with her father, cooking meals for the hunters and volunteers.
“My grandpa was the head chef out here for 14 years. I’ve worked out here for as long as I can remember,” Kisar said. “I plan on bringing my kids [to the hunt], too.”
Multiple opportunities exist for hunters with disabilities in Missouri, but the demand grows. Kendrick encourages more communities to start disabled hunts.
“We have volunteers who would be willing to skip our hunt for a year or two to help other communities organize and set up their own disabled hunts,” he said. “We could help folks build blinds and give them pointers that we’ve learned through the years.”
Missouri’s disabled hunts are a testament to the spirit of Missouri’s outdoor community. This is evident not only in the hunters who don’t allow a disability to hinder their passion for the sport, but also in the countless hours of volunteer support that make these events possible.
When asked why Kendrick continues to organize the hunt, he doesn’t hesitate. “I see what this hunt does not only for the hunters, but for the helpers, and it’s powerful…. You can’t walk away from that.”
Sarah Kendrick is the outreach and marketing supervisor for the Conservation Department’s Wildlife Division. She lives