New company builds deer stands for disabled

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2000

FERRIDAY, La. – Gary Hinton, paralyzed from the waist down by a motorcycle accident, hunted in vain for years to find a deer stand he could afford.

&uot;The cheapest one I&160;could find was more than $10,000, and there’s no way I&160;could afford that,&uot; Hinton said. Meanwhile, he hunted from the ground – but since deer can smell hunters much better at ground level, a successful hunt was rare.

So one and a half years ago Hinton asked friend Elwaine Smith, a former tool and die worker at Strongbuilt, a Waterproof-based deer stand maker, to build a stand for him.

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&uot;I told him I had $500, and if it cost more I couldn’t afford it,&uot;&160;Hinton said. Two weeks later, Smith had built a deer stand that Hinton could hand-crank to lift himself up to 15 feet in the air.

Now Smith and partners Larry Chauvin and L.J. &uot;Buck&uot; Denny have made manufacturing deer stands for disabled and elderly people their life’s work. Their company, Wright Manufacturing of Ferriday, was formed earlier this year and already offers several types of stands.

Those stands – sold over the Internet, through brochures and through word of mouth – range in price from $510 for a hand-cranked model that leans against a tree to $1,800 for a battery-powered, free-standing tripod model.

Although the company just got its occupational license from the Ferriday Town Council Tuesday, Smith and friends already have been hard at work.

They have already attended one hunting show to get orders for their products and will attend another in Dallas next week.

And their facility, a former dog food plant in Ferriday, is full of stand parts and demonstration models – of the machines Smith made himself to manufacture them.

There are the hand-cranked and battery-powered stand, plus the variety of different seats customers can order to fit those stands, including reclined seats with footrests. The company is even working on a model that seats two. &uot;That’s so a hunter can take his grandson along, or if a wife wants to go hunting she can sit with her husband,&uot; Smith said.

Are any other stands like these on the market?&160;&uot;They better not be,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;I have a patent on them.&uot;

An estimated 1.7 million National Rifle Association members have disabilities that do not allow them to use conventional deer stands, according to Chauvin’s figures.

Products for hunters with disabilities are not the only products on which Wright Manufacturing is working.

The company already sells climbing stands with reclined seats and is also developing hydraulic wheelchair lifts.