Missouri Deer Hunting: Opportunity for All
For more information about participating in or volunteering at a managed deer hunt for people with disabilities, contact your regional Conservation office, or see the 2014 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet available at hunting permit vendors, or on our Deer Regulations page at mdc.mo.gov/node/3610.
Smithville Lake Disabled Hunt
By Bill Graham
Nearly two hundred miles away on the same chilly morning, the Smithville Lake Disabled Hunt is underway. This hunt is the largest disabled hunt in Missouri, offering 65 disabled blind locations, and is a partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Clay County Parks and Recreation Department, and the Conservation Department. The Kearney Boy Scouts provide breakfast on Saturday, echoing the citizen involvement of all disabled hunts in the state.
“This hunt helps us manage our deer herd at the lake in the parks and refuge areas that are off-limits to regular hunters,” said Derek Dorsey, park manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
All disabled hunts in Missouri allow relatives, friends, or volunteers to assist hunters at the blinds. Volunteers become good friends with hunters, and the event becomes an outdoor reunion for participants.
“I love this hunt,” said hunter Wally Parker, 53, of St. Louis County, who participates in several managed hunts in Missouri. The former Marine lost a leg and some mobility in his arms in a motorcycle accident. “I thought my hunting days were through. Then I found these hunts.”
An 11-point buck bagged at this Smithville Lake hunt was the biggest deer Parker has taken in recent years. Volunteer Bill Davidson, of Lathrop, helped him bag the buck. Davidson said his father had a disability, so volunteering at the hunt holds extra meaning for him.
“I just enjoy it,” Davidson said. “I’ve been coming out and helping for eight or nine years now.”
William Hall, 32, of Wardell, enjoys a chance to hunt and renew friendships. He has participated in several of the hunts statewide for those with mobility challenges.
“This is a better hunting opportunity,” Hall said. “We don’t have the deer numbers at home that you do up here. This is my fourth year here, and I’ve made some good friends, and it’s good to see them every year.”
Lending a hand to hunters is a privilege, said volunteer Pete Eisentrager, of Independence.
“It’s an opportunity to spend time with these guys and give a little back,” Eisentrager said.
Dave Blanford, 66, of Kansas City, began deer hunting in 1978. More than a decade earlier, paralysis prompted him to begin using a wheelchair.
But that didn’t keep him from the outdoors and deer hunting. His brother, Colonel Blanford, helped him set up in a blind at Smithville Lake. Dave Blanford cradled his bolt-action rifle and surveyed the corn stubble and brushy draws in front of the blind.
“This is peaceful out here,” Blanford said. “You’re out here with the birds and the trees, and it’s peaceful.”
Bill Graham is a lifelong outdoorsman and Department media specialist for the Kansas City and Northwest regions. He enjoys the outdoors whether wielding camera, rod, gun, or hiking stick.