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Deer stands for the disabled

By By Otha Barham / outdoor editor
Oct. 25, 2002
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) dark green pickup trucks pulled in one at a time towing trailer mounted deer stands. The miniature houses and their hydraulic lift arms and power boxes were mounted on two-wheel trailers. There were three of the integral units, painted olive drab and ready for Mississippi deer hunting.
Huntmaster elevating deer stands is what the units are called, and they arrived in Meridian to be formally presented for use by disabled persons hereabouts. The presentation ceremony occurred last Saturday morning at Bonita Lakes Park in Meridian.
Many persons and organizations had a hand in providing these unique deer stands for the disabled. Anheuser-Busch donated funds for a second year in a row to Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and the organization in turn purchased the stands for use in Mississippi, the first state to receive them in a plan to place stands in many states. One stand each was presented to the MDWFP, Meridian Naval Air Station (NAS) and the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. Authority and basis for the donation of these stands exists in the Disabled Sportsmans Access Act and the National Shooting Sports Foundation's "Declaration of Investment in Tomorrow."
Top officials
Dignitaries from across the country attended the Saturday morning ceremony. Lew Deal of PVA in Washington, D.C. was on hand as was the president of the Bayou Gulf States Chapter of PVA, Wayne Blackwell of Albany, La. Blackwell, whose authority covers Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, gave the presentation address at the gathering.
Capt. J.K. Dickman, commander of Meridian NAS, Matt Hogan, Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Washington, D.C., and T.J. Jennings, MDWFP Director of Enforcement and Conservation in Jackson gave brief speeches accepting the stands for their agencies.
Congressman Chip Pickering, co-chairman of the Congressional Sportsman's Caucus, addressed the group to express his gratitude for the placement of the stands in the area.
Joel Payne of Mitchell Distributing Co. Inc. in Meridian represented Anheuser-Busch at the ceremony. Jim Tisdale attended for the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. Local businessman Jimmy Alexander, who provides leadership and resources for hunts by the disabled, attended as did many other interested persons. Numerous members of PVA were in the crowd, several from Louisiana.
The Huntmaster elevating stands can be towed into the woods and secured in place with detachable legs. A wheelchair can be backed into the covered stand, the door closed and the stand lifted by battery power and hydraulics activated with a remote push-button control box resembling a television remote control unit. Height adjustment is effected by the touch of a button.
Helping hands
What I saw at the event was yet another giant step in a recent delightful procession of organizations and individuals stepping forth to provide access for the disabled to the sporting life we enjoy. This groundswell is evidenced by programs in numerous organizations, one of the most notable being Wheelin Sportsmen (WS), founded by Meridians Kurt Thomas and supported by his family members, many benefactors, sponsors and now by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) with a commitment of full partnership.
The effect of these many moves to assist those who can use a little help in getting into the woods or to the waters to hunt and fish and enjoy their chosen pursuits is that so many individuals are reaping the rewards. And my belief is that most of them are the enablers, benefactors and mentors. I see a lot of folks plying their finest human qualities.
An example is last November's NWTF WS Ultimate Team-Up deer hunt hosted by Jimmy Alexander at the A and B Sportsman's Club near Chunky. So many showed up to assist the 26 hunters with disabilities that most only got to stand around and enjoy the event.
I have seen a transformation from participant to mentor in many anglers and hunters who now seem to give all their outdoor time to mentoring. Their conversation these days is more often about someone they helped bag a deer rather than their own outdoor exploits. In a time when human relations is taking many hits, this movement is a breath of fresh air.