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Bayou Cocodrie hosts Wheelin’ Sporstman weekend hunt

James “Moon” Mullins sits with the eleven-point buck that he shot during the Wheelin Sportman hunt put on by the National Wild Turkey Foundation at the Bayou Cocodrie National Refuge Saturday. For Mullins, a paraplegic man from Vidalia, the buck was the first deer he had ever shot. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

James “Moon” Mullins sits with the eleven-point buck that he shot during the Wheelin Sportman hunt put on by the National Wild Turkey Foundation at the Bayou Cocodrie National Refuge Saturday. For Mullins, a paraplegic man from Vidalia, the buck was the first deer he had ever shot. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Many hunters had been waiting for this particular weekend for a year, knowing that they would have the chance to potentially shoot that prize buck or big hog they had been waiting on.

Bayou Cocodrie, in partnership with the Concordia Delta Longbeards chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), hosted the Wheelin’ Sportsman Hunt, in which the handicapped from the area could hit the woods and give it their best shot at shooting an animal.

“Once a year we invite handicapped hunters statewide to come and participate,” said Tee Simpson, who led the organization of the event. “We had 20 spots available with stands to place hunters, and everything is done on a volunteer basis.”

Simpson said a lot of preparation goes into the event, but it is worth it being able to see the reactions of hunters if they kill something.

“We have ramps built and everything to make sure we can accommodate for the hunters,” Simpson said. “They have the opportunity to kill a buck, doe or both. They can also kill a hog if there is one out there for them. We then have volunteers that come in and take care of the animals and have them processed the way the hunter wants.”

Simpson said anywhere from 30 to 50 volunteers are needed to help put on the event.

A driving force that got the event going was the fact it gave handicapped hunters a chance to hunt locally.

“We got it going and set up in this area so locals don’t have to go off in other areas,” Simpson said. “They can actually hunt here at home.”

The NWTF is also looking to expand beyond the yearly hunt and is trying to incorporate another hunt into the calendar year.

“We are in the process of trying to set up a turkey hunt,” Simpson said. “The refuge is trying to get that set up and worked out as well. The hunters are excited to know that they will have the opportunity to maybe have another hunt during the year. Being the National Wild Turkey Federation, we want to push the turkey as well.”

This year’s event proved to be a success, with hunter James “Moon” Mullins taking down an 11-point buck Saturday.

Turns out, it was the first deer he had ever shot.

“I’ve been coming out here for two years and I’ve never seen anything,” he said. “I’m really excited.”