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Disabled hunters brave cold in archery hunting event

JACKSON COUNTY (WSIL) — Historically low temperatures in the area have caused some hunters to miss out on SIU Touch of Nature’s annual archery hunt for people with disabilities.

Ron McCarthy hasn’t missed a hunt at Touch of Nature in the last four years. His bow and arrows were stuffed in the backseat of his pickup truck while a game carrier sat in the bed.

"Bow hunters have plenty of gear," McCarthy said.

McCarthy has been an able-bodied member of the Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America (PCBA) for the last 22 years, helping hunters with disabilities hone their skills.

"It’s an extension of my hunting, but just for or with other people," McCarthy said.

Vicki Lang is the director of programming at Touch of Nature who says hunters this year come from states as far as Wyoming, Connecticut, and Ohio.

She says PCBA hunters use their memberships to enter a lottery and see who gets picked to go to the event.

"Then we go ahead and set up the blinds and do some scouting ahead of time," Lang said. "When the hunters are here, we know where to put them out in the fields so that they can be at the best spots for hunting."

Students like Matt Herman helped set up 11 blinds across the 3,100 acre site. He believes the recent cold spurt in the area gives hunters an extra advantage.

"It makes deer hunting a little bit easier for everyone because it’s easier to see everything when there’s snow on the ground," Herman said.

Tuesday’s group of hunters was smaller than anticipated, as many hunters had to cancel due to family issues or inclement weather.

Lang says adjusting to the weather is part of the experience. "If you’re a hunter, a true hunter, you’re used to having weather changes and used to being able to climatize with the weather,"

McCarthy plans to return to these events no matter the weather, "It’s the camaraderie. It’s the group event that I enjoy. The deer hunting I enjoyed anyway".

SIU Touch of Nature has two other similar events happening this month. Those include a National Wild Turkey Federation turkey and deer hunt from Nov. 15-17, and an Illinois Department of Natural Resources deer hunt from Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

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