A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take my father-in-law on a guided turkey hunt. He was 62 years old, and had been a hunter and outdoorsman his entire life. At this age, he should have been hale and hearty, but he was sick and very limited in what he could do. We got a turkey, but in the process I realized that just because someone is older, sick or handicapped, it doesn’t stop their love of hunting and the thrill of getting a trophy animal.
So what do you do if your health or age has limited your ability to access the outdoors? There are several options. The easiest thing to do is to find an outfitter that has accessible hunts. These are places that drive you to your blinds, have ground blinds and low tree stand placement, horseback options among other things. A great website to look at is
www.home.centurytel.net/afarcry/HuntingOutfittersFiles/Outfitters.htm. The website has researched and listed several accessible outfitters in different areas throughout the country.
If you are a fan of the do-it-yourself hunt, there are several ways to prepare. Of course, first it’s always best to be in the best physical shape possible. For ideas on what you can do, check out low impact exercises that focus on cardio building and endurance. When looking to hunt, try to find areas that have road access, limited walking and easy trails. Most states have handicapped accessible areas listed on their fish and game websites. It pays to check these out and see what’s out there.
It always pays to consult with someone in the area you wish to hunt. There are many hunting forums for different states and I’ve found sympathetic ears willing to share spots with me and others on forums. I belong to several. You can Google “hunting forums” and add your state to find one in your area.
Remember that sometimes the simplest answer is the best. When I took my father-in-law on the hunt, I also had his brother who is a disabled veteran. When we sat on the ground to watch for turkeys, he had a light-weight aluminum lawn chair that he used. It was cheap, easily portable, and allowed him to get up quickly for a shot. Don’t let a physical difficulty become an expensive one.
Finally, don’t rule out scouting. The off-season is usually a good place to begin looking for an accessible spot. It can also be a low-impact way to build up your strength for hunting season. Walking nature trails, driving around and checking out spots your friends recommend can simplify your life when hunting season rolls around. Also, if you are physically limited, the off-season is the time to get help setting up your tree stand or ground blind for a later date.