Handicap doesn’t stop hunter

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 7, 2000

Bill Lunceford has killed more than 30 deer in the last 10 years, only missing and failing to retrieve one.

Not bad, but not spectacular, right? Considering Lunceford is paralyzed from the neck down, and has harvested those deer with a hunting apparatus of his own design, however, Lunceford’s accomplishments seem quite a bit more impressive.

A swimming accident 21 years ago left the Clinton resident wheelchair-bound for life, he said. &uot;I was a hunter before that. I was raised in the country,&uot; he said.

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A little country ingenuity served him well. Determined to hunt despite his serious handicap, Lunceford designed a rifle aimed and fired essentially with the only muscles he could still move – his head and face.

&uot;It’s basically based on a football helmet,&uot; he said. A rifle is attached to the facemask with an aluminum bracket after the gun’s stock is replaced with a pistol grip.

&uot;If you have everything lined up right, you should be looking down a scope when you’ve got the helmet on,&uot; Lunceford said. &uot;Where the crosshairs are, the bullet goes.&uot;

The gun is fired using an electronic air switch similar to the one that operates his chair. A small piece of metal curls around the metal similar to a finger, and it is pulled when Lunceford blows on a tube.

&uot;And that’s pretty much it,&uot; he said. &uot;Simple, easy. And I don’t have to cut my rifles.&uot;

The design is also inexpensive. &uot;The head gear is the most expensive part,&uot; he said. &uot;Everything else is cheap little switches and metal. But it works.&uot;

Lunceford said he has no plans to patent or market the apparatus. &uot;There are several things out there like this,&uot; he said. &uot;My daughter did some research when I came up with this, and found that something very similar had been patented in the early 1900s.&uot;

Another reason Lunceford does not wish to sell the design is a sincere lack of greed. &uot;God’s been too good to me all the way around,&uot; he said. &uot;Especially with all the excellent hunts I get to go on.&uot;

One of those hunts will possibly be in the Cloverdale unit of the St. Catherine Creek Refuge on Nov. 18, an area not usually open to hunters, according to refuge acting director Maury Bedford.

&uot;We’ll have a drawing to select 10 wheelchair-dependent hunters to use the area,&uot; he said.

Lunceford has hunted at the handicapped-accessible refuge for a number of years, he said.

&uot;I try to get down there once or twice a year,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s a nice place.&uot;