Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge held a disabled hunt Oct. 12 and 13, allowing hunters with a variety of disabilities to hunt privately during the two-day event.
The event started in 2006 when Janet Gilreath, an administrative support specialist at Pee Dee, wanted people with disabilities to have a good hunting experience. “I’d heard about different places doing disabled hunts so I wanted to try it,” Gilreath said. “It makes you feel good on Saturday when you know you’ve done something.
“They really appreciate it,” Gilreath continued. “On the days they’re here we’re closed to everyone else, so we get to give them attention.”
Tony Burris and Bill Smith, both from Salisbury, appreciate the opportunity, stopping for this two-day hunt after a day at the Sandhills Gamelands disability hunt on Oct. 11. “There was a lot of enjoyment last year,” Burris said. “It’s a real nice place here.”
Smith agreed. “The opportunity for somebody disabled is great; it’s almost like going on a big hunt,” he said. “They’ve got some good bucks here.” Both Smith and Burris have come to Pee Dee’s disabled hunts for two years after hearing about it from a fellow hunter. “It’s really nice,” Smith said. “If you need help, they’ll help.”
Burris and Smith hunt together when they get the opportunity and have been to four disability hunts this year, with their sights set on an upcoming one at the Sandhills Gamelands in November. “We sign up for them together and compare what I got and what he got,” Smith said.
Fellow hunter Wanda Winecoff has hunted at Pee Dee before but said that this was her first handicap hunt. “They make it really accessible,” Winecoff said. “They set up a blind for me where I can get to it. They got me in a really good spot where my husband can get me in and get me out.” She said she definitely plans to come again.
By lunchtime on the first day, both of the hunt’s two kills were made by Daniel Jones, who said he just “got lucky.” Jones said he has hunted at Pee Dee for about eight years and plans to continue hunting there as long as possible. After sharing a barbecue lunch with other hunters at the refuge center on the first day of the hunt, Jones said he planned to go back home to Hendersonville. “I’ll save some for them,” he joked. “I don’t want to be a hog.”
The two-day hunt draws people from about 10 counties within a couple hundred miles, Gilreath and J.D. Bricken, refuge manager, said. Hunters who wish to participate must have a state-approved hunting disability license, according to Gilreath.
For more information on upcoming events call the refuge at 704-694-4424 or visit it at 5770 U.S. 52 North in Wadesboro.