posted on October 31, 2005 00:00
Hunt Club Spreads its Wings
A hunter poses with his turkey after a Wheelin' Sportsmen NWTF hunt.
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It took two years of meetings, negotiations and finally, contracts, but the Broken Wing Hunt Club is up and running. Located near Tallahassee, Fla., the club is run by people with disabilities for people with disabilities.
"We had been looking for a place where people with disabilities could hunt, and this is the best we found," said Phil Yon, Wheelin' Sportsmen National Wild Turkey Federation volunteer coordinator for north Florida and club member. "We had other offers before this one, but we decided to wait and see if this piece of property would be leased again, and it was."
Yon, along with other members of the club, are members of Wheelin' Sportsmen NWTF, an outreach program dedicated to providing everyone with a disability the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities.
"The Broken Wing Hunt Club is a prime example of how our members help each other," said Kirk Thomas, Wheelin' Sportsmen NWTF national coordinator and founder. "By providing a place to hunt, the club is giving people an opportunity they might not otherwise have."
The club sits on 1,280 acres owned by St. Joe Paper Co. and has 12 members. Since signing the three-year lease, members have planted food plots, cut back brush and cleared roads to make stands more accessible. Members have also made stands specifically for powered wheelchairs.
"We've planted about 20 food plots for deer and turkey, and we also have a lot of ponds where we're planting millet for ducks and dove," Yon said. "We've got fishing, hunting and camping, and we welcome our members and their families to bring kids under 16 to hunt for free."
As of now, 75 percent of the club's members are disabled -- including Yon -- and he said the goal is to have 100 percent. Bylaws of the club also stipulate members must hold two Wheelin' Sportsmen hunts per year.
"We're going to host a deer hunt and a turkey hunt in 2006 and every year after," Yon said. "It's our way of giving back."
Wheelin' Sportsmen NWTF provides all people with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors through local chapter events nationwide, such as hunting, fishing and shooting activities. The program also provides a full color, quarterly magazine to its members. Wheelin' Sportsmen magazine is dedicated to the education and entertainment of disabled outdoors enthusiasts.
For more information about Wheelin' Sportsmen NWTF or to become a member, call (800) THE-NWTF or visit the Web site at www.wheelinsportsmen.org.