NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Hunters with disabilities gathered this weekend for the 12th annual Wheelin’ Sportsmen deer hunt.
The event is usually hosted by state and local agencies, but due to the pandemic they couldn’t help. The Winston tree farm, Wood family, and volunteers rallied together to make the event happen.
Just before dawn, hunters and guides headed into the woods at the Winston Tree Farm, waiting for wildlife. Organizer Paul Wood said for most of the hunters, this is the only time of year they get to hunt.
“We have about a dozen handicap accessible stands and they’re especially designed to fit the needs of the wheelchair hunters, they’re able to use and have a successful hunt,” Wood said.
This is the fourth year Jonathan Hunt has participated. Hunt has epilepsy, and this event means so much to him that he traveled from Conroe. In the morning he said he saw a doe and its fawn but, “There was a pipeline sign in my way so I couldn’t shoot at it, and then a little bit later the buck walked out,” Hunt said. “It was a nice eight point, I shot it and it dropped right where it was. It felt good, it’s my first buck and so I really liked that.”
The event usually brings out 30 to 35 hunters but because of COVID-19 only nine hunters were able to come. That was enough for the Winston and Wood families, along with several volunteers to make this day a success.
“Most properties don’t have stands like that, so they’re able to come to our facility, they’re able to hunt this property, and this is the only hunt they get to do all year,” Wood said. “Because of that, we didn’t want to tell them no.”
Jacob Wood has been a guide for ten years. He helps get hunters to and from stands, prepare the meal, and assist as needed throughout the day.
“It’s just been a blessing to still be able to provide this to these guys. Like we’d talked about before, many of these guys don’t get the opportunity that this is,” Wood said. “As much craziness that is going on right now, we didn’t want that to limit these guys and the opportunities they had.”
“It feels great, seeing some of the people that are at the Wheelin’ Sportsman event, it just feels good being around them,” Hunt said. “Everybody is really nice, I like it.”
Wood says those who harvested a buck will have the mounting provided by a local taxidermist.