La. native makes use of wheelchair blinds at wildlife refuge

Published 12:52 am Sunday, January 17, 2010

NATCHEZ — An accident that happened almost seven years ago isn’t stopping Baton Rouge native Jason Butler from doing what he enjoys.

Butler, 31, who is paralyzed from his shoulders down, visited Adams County last weekend to make use of a special hunting blind at the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge.

Butler used the blind with his father, Willie Bain, to hunt deer with his crossbow.

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“This is actually the second time I’ve hunted here,” Butler said. “Two years ago, I had a friend tell me about it, so I came and checked it out. It’s wonderful that this place has something like this.”

Louisiana has wheelchair blinds, Butler said, but certain state laws prevent him from being able to take advantage of them. The rough terrain vehicle he and his father use is illegal in Louisiana, Butler said.

“I can’t ride a 4-wheeler, and they won’t let me use the Rhino on game reserves, so their lands really aren’t accessible to me,” Butler said.

Accessibility isn’t the only thing that plays a factor in Butler’s decision to hunt in the Magnolia State.

“Mississippi is managing their deer better in my opinion. I think we’ll start seeing even better deer come out of here in the future because of it.”

The system that measures the length of the deer’s spread and main beam is what sets Mississippi’s apart in Butler’s mind.

“You’re just letting them mature for a longer period of time. A 1 1/2-year-old buck is only going to have a 3- or 4-inch main beam. When you get them at 12 or 15 inches, you’re going to get more mature deer.”

Butler’s paralysis is a result of a broken neck from a swimming accident that happened May 10, 2003.

“I’m either a C-5 or C-6 quadriplegic,” Butler said. “I dove in a swimming pool six years ago, which paralyzed me. I have full feeling in my arms, but I can’t move my fingers.”

Although Butler is unable to have feeling in his fingers, Bain said arm technique and a modification to the triggers on his gun and crossbow allow him to fire them.

“He can put his finger in there and pull his arm back,” Bain said. “I also put a modifier on the trigger to make it easier to pull back. It’s like a second trigger that’s eases up on the pull.”

Butler didn’t kill anything at the refuge last weekend, but he did have better luck Thursday at another area of land close to Natchez.

“He took one from 100 yards away on some private land between Natchez and Woodville,” Bain said. “It was his first deer since his accident. He shot a duck too recently, and we’re going to mount both of them. He was tickled to death.”

The ability to hunt with his father was a special time for the both of them, Bain said. Bain works with a construction company, which keeps him busy during hunting season most years.

“It worked out well for us,” Bain said. “I’ll probably have to go back to work next week, which will put me out of the state, so I’m glad I got to see him take this one.”