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Sportsmen hit woods for ‘wheelin’ hunt

FERRIDAY — Nearly a dozen hunters wheeled their way into the woods Friday and Saturday, awaiting the big kill.

All but two deer won this battle, though.

The National Wild Turkey Federation and the Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge teamed up for their annual Wheelin’ Sportsmen event, which continued Saturday.

Wheelin’ Sportsman takes handicapped individuals into the woods for a day of hunting.

With a handicapped hunting permit, these wheelchair-bound sportsmen hit the stands Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

Lisa Smith, president of the Delta Longbeards chapter of the turkey federation, said she saw a similar turnout as last year’s event.

“We ended up with 11 hunters (Friday.) We’re supposed to have 15 this afternoon,” Smith said.

Friday afternoon, the hunters killed two does. On Saturday morning’s hunt — nothing.

Gary Nations of Vidalia was one of the lucky hunters.

“I watched the doe for 20 minutes and realized after a while that a buck wasn’t going to show, so I dropped it right there,” Nations said. “It was wonderful, the weather wasn’t too cold.”

This year is Nations’ first year to participate in the Wheelin’ Sportsman at the Bayou Cocodrie Refuge.

“The hospitality here was great, second to none. I look forward to next year,” Nations said.

Thomas Courtney of Saline Lake, La., was not as fortunate as Nations.

“We didn’t see anything (Saturday) morning but (Friday) was great. We saw a six-point, but I never had a clear shot,” Courtney said. “This is my second year here, it is first class. I’d definitely come back.”

Daniel Strother of Gilmore, La., delivered a fatal shot to the second doe Friday, though the animal wasn’t found until Saturday.

It was a 175 lb., 7-point buck with a 14-inch spread,” Smith said.

The hunters enjoyed a hamburger dinner after their Friday afternoon hunt, hamburgers that were donated by Sheriff Randy Maxwell. Saturday’s lunch was a barbecue chicken meal that was donated by Vidalia Meat Shop.

The growth of sponsors for this year’s Wheelin’ Sportsman is something that Smith said she feels is important for the community.

“It’s really important to put back into the community. We had 70 sponsors this year,” Smith said.

Aside from the Wheelin’ Sportsman program, the refuge puts on many other programs to get more active hunters.

“Our primary focus is managing for migratory birds and we have several deer hunts that we host,” refuge manager Deisha Norwood said. “Possibly in the next few years we’ll have turkey hunts. We put on the Wheelin’ Sportsman and youth hunts to give people, who don’t normally hunt, the opportunity.”

To find out more about the hunts, visit www.fws.gov/bayoucocodrie/ for more information.

or call Deisha Norwood at 318-336-7119.

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