Bayou Cocodrie to host Wheelin’ Sportsman hunt in January

Published 12:01 am Sunday, December 18, 2011

submitted photo Daniel Strother poses with the buck he killed at last year’s Wheelin’ Sportsman deer hunt at Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge. He is pictured with Refuge Manager Deisha Norwood and Concordia Delta Longbeards member Lisa Smith. Strother killed the biggest buck at last year’s event. He is from Glenmore, La. (Submitted photo)


NATCHEZ — Several handicapped hunters from the Miss-Lou and throughout Mississippi and Louisiana are getting prepared to hit the woods for the Wheelin’ Sportsman deer hunt hosted by the Concordia Delta Longbeards chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge.

The hunt will be Jan. 13-14 at Bayou Cocodrie, and Lisa Smith of the Delta Longbeards chapter of NWTF said approximately half of the 20 available spots are still open for interested hunters.

“We are limited to 20 hunters who are mobility impaired, and they must have their handicap hunting permit,” Smith said. “The sooner they get their application in the better chance they have of joining the hunt.”

January’s event will be the third time that the Delta Longbeards have worked along side Bayou Cocodrie to host the event. The National Wildlife Refuge hosted the event for many years prior to joining with the Delta Longbeards, Refuge Manager Deisha Norwood said.

“It’s the best part of my year as far as an event we host,” Norwood said. “These hunters don’t have this opportunity regularly. It’s special for us, and they are really appreciative, and it really brings happiness to me to see the happiness on their face.”

Norwood said partnering with the Delta Longbeards has allowed them to reach out to more potential hunters.

Norwood said the refuge provides the hunters blinds from which to hunt. Ten blinds will assist on the Ferriday side of the refuge, and 10 will assist on the Monterey side.

A guide will be provided for the hunters to assist them with their hunt if they do not bring their own when they come to the hunt.

Each blind is handicap-accessible, and the hunters will be taken to the blinds on four wheelers and trailers, Norwood said.

“(Handicapped people) love to hunt just as much as your able-bodied hunter,” Norwood said. “The thing is they just don’t have the opportunity, because they have limitations with mobility.”

Norwood said the hunters have been successful in the past, and this year could be even better.

“I guess they have a 30-40 percent success rate, which is fairly good,” she said. “We changed the dates to be closer to the rut, so it increases the opportunity, because the deer are moving around a lot more. At least they should get to see more activity in the field.”

Members of the Concordia Delta Longbeards, from left front row, Paul Ferrell, Cole Hornsby, Tee Simpson, Deisha Norwood, John Simpson, Melissa Tarver, Ronnie Gillespie, Paula Tarver, Lisa Smith, Russ Pritchard, from left back row, Dave Morris, Justin Tarver, Mike Renfrow, Mike Smith and Joey Tarver. (Submitted photo)

Smith and Norwood said that the hunt sees as many hunters from outside of the Miss-Lou as local hunters, and both said that they would like to see the number of local hunters increase.

“We raise money from sponsors, and it’s important to people in this community that they see their money going back into the parish,” Smith said. “It’s really important to me and our supporters.”

Norwood said so far the split of registered hunters is even between local and out-of-town hunters.

“We want to get the word out to the local community to see more of them.”

Smith said the Delta Longbeards like to focus on working with young hunters and mobility-impaired hunters. She said the group likes to focus on family-oriented events.

To apply for the Wheelin’ Sportsman deer hunt applicants must mail a copy of their state issued handicap hunting permit along with their name, address and phone number to BCNWR, P.O. Box 1772, Ferriday, LA 71334 or call 318-729-8304.

For more information on the event contact Lisa Smith at 318-729-8304 or the Bayou Cocodrie Refuge office at 318-336-7119.

Volunteers who want to help with the hunt are also encouraged to contact Smith or Norwood.