Helping Disabled Hunters - WBAY

Helping Disabled Hunters

Updated:
 The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is looking for landowners willing to host a gun-deer hunt for people with disabilities.

Since it started in the early 1990's, the October hunt has proved very successful and demand for access continues to rise. In 2006, the Luxemburg Sportsman's Club decided to open its 80 acres to disabled hunters.

"It hadn't been hunted for over 40 years, and we just thought as a club it would be a great opportunity for some people that were not fortunate enough to get out and hunt on different lands and stuff like that," says club president Paul Mahlik.

That same year, Mike Gilson, who has cerebral palsy, figured it was time for him to hang up his gun.

"It was getting too hard and lack of places to go with a vehicle. I'd kind of given it up until these guys called me and got me fired up again to go," says Gilson, who lives in nearby Casco.

With club members serving as mentors, Gilson bagged a buck his first year.

"It's giving people a chance that won't normally have a chance, it's awesome," Gilson says about the experience.

"We bring them in, we feed them breakfast, and at night we have a few refreshments. We try to treat them as royalty," says Mahlik.

Each fall, the Luxemburg Sportsman's Club draws two names. Gilson has been lucky three different years.

"Oh it's a great opportunity. I wish everybody could do it, but they can only have so many a year," says Gilson.

The club's property is on a DNR master list. Disabled hunters can search local properties and inquire about hunting on them.

Statewide last year, 260 disabled hunters had a place to pursue their dream. But the DNR says more land is needed to give more of those hunters the opportunity.

Details for landowners and hunters can be found on the Wisconsin DNR web site (http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/disdeer.html).

This year's hunt runs from October 4th through the 12th.

The deadline to apply to host a hunt is June 1st.

"If you can see the smile on their face it's well worth it. It's well worth it. That's all I can tell you, you know. It means so much to them," says Mahlik.
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