Its all about smiles

Huntmaster Dedication  May 12, 2008 Butner, NC

Welcome by Commissioner Steve Windham   Intro by Windham   History by Ed Mays   Demo of Huntmaster


Ask any deer hunter if there is any advantage in being elevated above the ground while hunting and you will most definitely get a quick yes.  The advantages of being above the ground for deer hunting are many.  You can see and shoot much further.  Deer are less likely to pick up your odor.  They are less likely to see you as they pay more attention to what is happening at ground level than to activity a few feet up.  It can be safer, as you would be shooting in a more downward arch into the earth as opposed to the horizon.  It can also be debated that you are safer from a fellow hunters misguided bullet.  This might be the case if hunting on flat ground and a targeted deer was close to your location.

While there are many advantages to being above the ground, there are also several disadvantages.  The most obvious is safety.  A review of the states hunting related accidents over the past few years' shows that falls involving tree stands as being the number one cause of injuries and deaths. 

There are literally dozens of types, styles and methods of tree stands.  With the climber style, the hunter must place his stand into position each time he uses it.  Stationary stands are secured in position only once.  However, the hunter must use some auxiliary means for getting into the stand.  Permanent stands are those that are basically built to stay put.  They often resemble miniature towers and tree houses.  Many new three and four legged semi-permanent stands are now on the market.  They usually require two or more people to erect.  These stands are good for stability and using in areas with few trees.

These tree stands as well as most elevated hunting stands all have one major drawback.  They do not accommodate the handicapped and physically impaired sportsman very well, if at all.  Depending upon the impairment, it can be almost impossible to get off the ground to deer hunt.  For hunters in thirteen of the states counties, local laws that are designed for safety, actually impede the handicapped further.  These counties require hunters using rifles for hunting or hunting deer, to be in some type of elevated hunting stand or platform.  While these laws are all different, they range from requiring the hunter to be at least five feet to ten feet above the ground.  With the growing trend in population and development, it is almost a sure bet that more counties will join this trend.

Until recent years, the handicapped sportsman, especially the handicapped hunters, were pretty much left out in the cold.  While a reduced cost lifetime license for the handicapped has been available for several years, little else was available.  In the past few years the states wildlife agency has recognized this problem and is currently taking great strides towards correcting it.  One of these accomplishments has been in establishing a WRC handicapped sportsman committee which includes a citizenries advisory committee.

To help address the issues facing them, three years ago, handicapped veteran and sportsman Edward Mays, founded the NC Handicapped Sportsmen, Inc.  During the February NCWRC meeting, the commission entered into a matching funds partnership with the NCHS.  This partnership came into fruition earlier this month at a ribbon cutting ceremony at the wildlife agencies Butner depot in Durham County.  During the event, the NCHS presented ten new Huntmaster Hydraulic Lifts to the WRC.  The words of Congressman Robin Hayes may have described the event best. 

“I am pleased that North Carolina acquired hunting lifts that can be used by handicapped sportsman, especially our veterans,” said Congressman Robin Hayes. “As a hunter, I know firsthand the joy of being outdoors, and I have developed a great appreciation for the nature and wildlife of our great State. Traditionally, physical disabilities have stopped would-be hunters from these activities, but these lifts will open this opportunity to them. I want to commend all people involved in bringing these handicapped hunting lifts to North Carolina. It is a huge victory.”

The Carolina Growler Company of Star, N.C, manufactures the lifts.  The units are housed on a mobile trailer for transportation and are able to lift a six by six foot enclosed hunting blind up to twenty feet high.  They are equipped with stabilizers, roofs and benches and can hold up to 750 pounds.  A solar powered twelve-volt battery powers the units.  The units will be used in the near future on special handicapped hunts like one that is planned for the new Johns River Game Lands in Burke County. 

   Tony Robinson - Outdoor Writer / retired NC Wildlife Officer

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© North Carolina Handicapped Sportsmen Inc. 2008