Disabled Hunting Thoughts & Tips

An estimated 1.7 million people with severe physical handicaps enjoy hunting and shooting sports in the U.S. Some of the things that can be taken for granted by the able bodied sportsman are life-changing events for this segment of the population: learning to shoot again, being in the wilderness, or just witnessing animals in the wild. I understand, personally, the importance of outdoor recreation and how it can have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for people with disabilities. Dealing with a severe left hand injury I sustained in 2017 has taught me the true meaning of “adaptive shooting” and “adaptive shooting gear” because I’ve had to keep adapting my strategies and equipment to stay in the hunt as the injury and seven surgeries diminished my left arm & hand strength and flexibility.

Each year there are more people with disabilities enjoying nature. Government; on Federal, State and local levels, is providing easier access to thousands of acres of trails, parks and wilderness areas. There are organizations and clubs with programs for persons with disabilities who want to participate in hunting activities. A number of volunteers donate many thousands of hours each year so that others can enjoy areas that were once thought to be unreachable.

Depending on your injury or handicap, you will need to adapt to your circumstances. Thankfully, there are more and more technologically advanced vehicles, motorised wheelchairs and tools being developed every year to help you get outdoors. If you are someone who has difficulty holding a gun or bow, you are going to need some type of shooting platform that you are comfortable with.  If you are going to shoot recreational, this can be a saw-horse or anything like it that will enable you to handle the weapon effectively.  If you are going to hunt, you are going to need something that will be small enough for a ground blind. Because weapons are rarely accurate straight out of the box, using anchor points will allow you to discover how your weapon is shooting and make the proper adjustments and zero it in as they say.

Hunting facilities and target-shooting events are becoming more user-friendly for outdoorsmen with special needs

Does Connecticut offer any special considerations for hunters with disabilities?
A person who has permanently lost the use of a limb may be issued a hunting or trapping license free-of-charge (permits are not included).
Verification of disability signed by a licensed physician or an advanced practice registered nurse must be presented.
Paraplegics may also be eligible to hunt from an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle).
Some hunting areas are especially suited for hunters with disabilities and have access improvements to accommodate those hunters.
They are listed in the current Hunting and Trapping Guide and the Public Hunting Areas page on the DEEP’s website.

The Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America (PCBA)

The Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America is a nonprofit organization that was founded to help persons with disabilities who want to participate in bow-hunting training.
The PCBA provides newly injured and inexperienced sports-persons with information and services through its organization and members, demonstrating how to shoot a bow and hunt, regardless of a person’s impairment.

The PCBA also serves as a national clearinghouse on the opportunities, techniques, and adaptive equipment for archers with disabilities. They provide information to individuals, organizations, manufacturers, and archery dealers at no charge upon request. The PCBA promotes fellowship through promoted social events and hunting opportunities. They continuously seek the assistance of manufacturers, hunting and archery organizations, as well as from experienced hunters, so that they can work together in order to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities through bow-hunting. The PCBA works with rehabilitation facilities and hospitals and the people who work in these institutions in order to introduce bow-hunting in a positive manner. You can visit the Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America website at: https://physicallychallengedbowhuntersofamerica-inc.org

These resources are not intended nor implied to be an endorsement of any company or product.

Hunting Equipment and Devices

Access to Recreation Field Tripod and Quad Mounts (Archery & Gun)
Adaptive Outdoorsman In-Line Draw-Loc, Mounts (Archery & Gun)
Battenfeld Technologies Stands (Gun)
Be Adaptive Mounts (Archery & Gun)
Big Sky Imagination Stands, Binoculars and Rests (Gun)
Bow-Ster Bow Holsters
Draw-Loc Crossbows (Archery)
Mouth Tab Making An Easy Mouthtab Out of Parachute Cord
NOS360 Wheelchair Platform
Parker Bows Self-Cocking Crossbow (Archery)
Sidestix Stabilizing Crutch Poles
Sport Aid Battery Operated Tree Stand
TenPoint Dampeners, Crossbows (Archery)
SR 77 Hands free shooting rest (Gun)

Offroad Chairs, Scooters, & Walkers

Action Trackchair Offroad Power Chair
All Terrain Medical & Mobility Extreme 4×4 All Terrain Power Chair
Cajun Mobility Offroad Power Chair
Eagle Sports Chairs Offroad Manual Chairs
Freedom Trax Offroad Power Chair
Grit Offroad Manual Chair
Inovation in Motion Extreme 4×4 All Terrain Power Chair
Magic Mobility Extreme 4×4 Power Chair
Magic Mobility LTD Offroad Power Chair
Mobility Technologies Offroad Walker
Motion Concepts Offroad Manual Chair
Mountain Trike Offroad Manual Chair
Outdoor Extreme Mobility Offroad Power Chairs
Outrider USA Offroad Manual Chairs
SportAid Offroad Manual Chairs
Terrain Hopper Offroad Power Cart
Titan Hummer XL Offroad Power Scooter
TopEnd Offroad Manual Chair
TRiONiC Offroad Walker
Walk’n’Chair Offroad Walker
Walk’n’Chair Offroad wheelchair, transport chair
Zoom 4×4 Offroad Power Scooter

Offroad Chair Add-Ons

disABILITY Work Tools Powerhorse Wheelchair Driver
Freewheel Offroad Third Wheel
Quickie Offroad Third Wheel
Rio Mobility Offroad Power Third Wheel
Spokes’n’Motion Offroad Third Wheel
Rough Roller Offroad Third Chair

Find Disabled Groups In Your Area

National Groups

Alabama

Arizona

Arkansas

Colorado

Connecticut

  • Ct Sportsmen With Disabilities – Steve Kutzo 203-384-8226

Florida

Georgia

  • North Georgia Wheelers – 3638 Looper Circle, Gainesville, GA 30506, (770) 536-9256
  • Southern Disabled Outdoors -4176 US Hwy. 41 South, Tifton, GA 31794, E-mail:rollingwild@friendlycity.net
  • Kidz Outdoors

Indiana

Iowa

Kentucky

Louisiana

Manitoba

  • Field and Stream Association for Manitobans with Disabilities, President: Terry Lindell – PO Box 246, Warren, Manitoba ROC 3E0, Phone: (204) 322-5672;fax: (204) 322-5236, Email:tlindell@man.net

Massachusetts

  • Wheelchair Sports and Rec. Association – Charles Ekizian – 2001 Marina Drive, North Quincy, MA 02171, (617) 773-7251

Michigan

  • Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors – Tom Jones – 734-612-6677

Minnesota

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

  • Sporting Chance – Ron Yeager, President, 737 N. 34th Street, Bismarck, ND 58501 – Phone (701) 258-1865 / Karla I. Engelhart, Secretary, 815 N. 12th, Bismarck, ND 58501 – Phone (701) 222-8516

Ontario

  • Physically Challenged Outdoor Association – Bruce MacCullum – PO Box 642, Madford, Ontario NOH 1Y0, (519) 538-4390

Oregon

Pennsylvania

South Carolina

  • South Carolina Disabled Sportsmen, Inc – c/o Bobby Harrell, 7449 Hendersonville Highway, Yemasee, SC 2994
  • Cimarron
  • Kidz Outdoors

South Dakota

  • South Dakota Disabled Adventures – 711 E. Wells Ave., Pierre, SD 57501

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Virginia

Washington

Wisconsin

Wyoming

Turkey Hunting

There is no doubt about it… Turkey hunting as to be one of the most addicting hunting experiences here in Connecticut and all over the US. Every year when spring rolls around, hunters return to their green fields and woods, dressed head-to-toe in proper turkey hunting attire looking for the biggest bearded gobbler in the local state forest or private hideout. They are chasing the flop, and it is addicting, to some even more so than deer hunting. What makes it so enjoyable? Turkey hunting can go right, or it can go wrong fast…it’s difficult and easy at the same time, all depending on your actions. Communicating with and decoying in a Tom is extremely satisfying. Add the gobble, spit, and drumming into a hunting situation and it’s one of the most thrilling experiences a hunter will come across. The one thing about turkey hunting that we come to love is that it directly tests your ability as an outdoorsmen and turkey hunter.

For some, like me, the turkey hunting itch begins as early as February. When it comes, don’t ignore it…scratch that itch! The best way is with pre-season scouting. Earlier in the year during the late winter, start looking for the flock. Scout food sources such as mast bearing (acorn filled) hardwood flats, cut grain fields, and pastures for tracks, droppings, and scratching. Set up some trail cameras in some areas where you think they might be feeding. Locating the flock with this tactic gives you the general area, but later in the year you will focus more on locating gobblers to hunt. Take advantage of days off work, weekend days, and any hours you get free. If you’re off work on a rainy day, use it to scout! In my opinion, the easiest way to kill a gobbler in the spring is by finding his roost the night before. Use your pre-season scouting observations to key in on a general area where the turkey might be spending the night. When you get off work, head to the woods. Without spooking the bird get within earshot, and listen for wings flapping and light calling as turkeys fly up on their roosts for the night. Wake up early and walk in the cover of darkness, not using a light, and set up close to the tree. Call to the tom lightly after he begins to talk on the roost. If you let him know there is a hen below in your direction he will come and investigate.

Using “turkey talk” is the number one way to kill a big long beard. Turkey calling is turkey hunting 101 and pairing the calls up with the real thing or at least make them think it is by using a decoy is how you bring a tom (or a lot of them) into range!

You wouldn’t hunt deer without trying to figure out their movement patterns. Use the same scouting skills and tools to unlock turkey habits in the area you hunt. Google Maps, on-the-ground reconnaissance, and discreet glasswork from a good vantage point will all help tell you what the birds are doing. Does feed hard, and bucks follow. Hens feed hard, and gobblers follow. Just as you would hunt fields and food plots for whitetails, hunt where the turkeys are chowing down. Get set for a long wait. Build a blind from natural materials, use camouflage fabric, or erect a pop-up tent. Evening birds are jittery, suspicious, and ultra-alert. A good hide provides some forgiveness if you stretch or make an errant movement.

Hunting Partner

One great benefit of hunting with a partner is that each hunter brings a different skill set to the hunt. Each hunter can scout and roost birds in two different areas as options for the best hunt.
Then, by morning, you can meet up to exchange ideas, decide on the best one and execute different calling styles. A two-person setup is also advantageous: As one hunter serves as a caller, the shooter can run a good distance ahead, even throwing out a few yelps and preparing to shoot once the turkey enters the shooting range.

Don’t Be Picky

A lot of those midday birds were wrinkled old gobblers, but that doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to longbeards. If a yearling jake or 2-year-old answers your calls and comes into range, by all means shoot him, especially if there’s only a few weeks or days left in the season. The late-season is no time to be picky. Longbeards are nice, but any legal bird is meat in the freezer. Besides, tender young jakes taste a whole lot better than a worn-down, old boss tom whose energy reserves are depleted by weeks of breeding.

Turkey Calls

Mouth Calls: Turkey mouth call diaphragms are made by stretching latex rubber (often described as a reed) across a horseshoe-shaped frame centered inside a plastic skirt. You blow air across the latex reed (or reeds) to make turkey sounds. They’re inexpensive. A diaphragm, as they’re often called, offers hands-free operation. Just ounces to carry, you can hide one in your mouth.

Pot and Peg Calls: A striking surface attached to a hollow pot — often with drilled holes underneath to create sound resonance with the inner chamber — and a peg (often called a striker) form this two-piece, hand-held turkey caller. Striking surface materials often include slate, glass and aluminum. Pegs are made of wood, carbon, plastic, glass and even turkey wing bone.

Box Calls: Most box calls are made of wood. When you scrape the paddle bottom against a side panel lip he hollow chamber inside the narrow, rectangular box makes a sound — ideally one a wild turkey would like to hear.

Weather is often a major influence on turkey hunting success as it affects bird behavior. Fog can keep turkeys on the morning roost later. Extreme heat may find midday birds loafing in shaded areas near water. Heavy spring snow may keep turkeys from regular feeding and strutting patterns. Clear and calm spring mornings with a bright rising sun often result in good roost gobbling, allowing you to find birds. These mornings are often the most pleasant for you to hunt as well. Still this favorable weather trend can challenge turkey hunters, especially if hens are still around and not nesting. Gobbling pulls female turkeys to a male turkeys roosting location.

Finally, your shotgun or bow needs to do the job when a strutting longbeard steps into the killing zone.Just as finding the right gun for turkey hunting is important, finding the right shotshell is equally important. Be sure to pattern your gun and make note of how the load performs before you go afield. You’ve earned this moment. Your heart is racing. Calm down if you can. Enjoy the scene; it’s what you’ve worked so hard for. Now take the shot.

Quick Tips

1. Scout: Get out in the woods and listen. Don’t call, but get up early and find where they roost.

2. Roost a bird: Once you consistently find early-morning gobblers, start putting them to bed. As your season gets closer, it’s even more important to have idea of patterns the turkeys around you are following. If you can roost a bird, you know where to hunt the next morning.

3. Find the hens: Find the hens and you’ll find the toms. If you can find where hens are feeding, you’re right where the toms are going to be strutting.

4. Shock and awe: Use shock gobbles to help you find toms.

5. Use an Owl hooter: If you hunt pressured birds try an owl hooter. Buy one and learn how to use it.

6. Less is more: It’s really easy to get caught up in the calling. This is never more true than when you have a responsive tom that gobbles with your every cluck. Don’t make the same mistake. Nothing will drive a tom mad like a hen playing hard to get. Let him think his gobbles fell on deaf ears.

7. The purr and cluck: Just don’t. This particular sound and call is made only when a hen is mad. If you have a hen you’d like to keep around, then this call will make her mad and likely keep her around a little longer.

8. Hens make the best decoys: You want to know where the hens are located, and you want to keep them around. Toms are looking for hens, so find the hens and a tom will eventually show up.

9. Use a diaphragm call: It’s no secret that turkeys rely on their impeccable sight. Nothing will blow a hunt faster than reaching for a call, or using a call that requires movement. Learn to operate a diaphragm call and keep it in your mouth.

10. Use more than one call: You never know what a tom will respond to.

11. Use the weather: Weather patterns change bird behavior. Snow will slow down breeding behavior, but they still need to eat. Rain will work against a bird’s sight, and in my experience, they then seek open fields. Wind will do the opposite, sending them to low, wooded areas. Calm, sunny days will make for the best hunting.

12. Check your pattern: Shoot your gun to make sure it’s on target. Not all loads will pattern the same with your gun, so test them all.

13. Decoy or Decoys: Based on your hunting location, make sure you’re using the right decoy setup. Where turkeys can see a good distance, use more decoys. In thicker cover, stick to the less-is-more mentality.

14. Get aggressive: Don’t be too afraid to run and gun. If you’re within earshot range of a tom, move, get closer and use cover to your advantage.

15.  Hunt in the afternoon: Some of the most productive times to hunt can be first thing in the morning or late in the evening. Definitely hunt these times, but don’t miss a chance to get out in the afternoon. Later in the season, hens will be on the nest and toms will be cruising for receptive hens.

Get Out There

We began this discussion with patience and we end it with another equally important turkey-hunting virtue: perseverance. It’s an absolute fact that you won’t get anything if you’re not out there hunting. Be persistent. I know, it gets difficult as the season winds down and other interests and chores compete for your time. The early-morning, wake-up calls have also long since ceased being fun. But don’t give up. Get out there in the woods and hunt, even if it’s just for an hour or two.