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Virginia National Wild Turkey Federation hosts hunt for disabled

It has become an annual tradition. Every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the Virginia National Wild Turkey Federation Wheelin’ Sportsmen host a deer hunt for people with disabilities.

This past Saturday 20 attended the event and at least 11 participated in the deer hunt held at Staunton River State Park.

According to Wheelin’ Sportsmen State Coordinator Robin Clark, the purpose of the event is to provide outdoors opportunities for people with disabilities.

This year two wounded warriors along with five other hunters with disabilities participated in the hunt, and each got to bring one guest with them.

Hunters came from all over Virginia including Hanover, Virginia Beach, Roanoke, Waynesboro and Charlottesville including Barry Barbour of Hanover, Walter Bossout of Chesapeake, Robin Clark of Charlottesville, Allan McCroskey of Roanoke, Chris Ratcliff of Danville, D. J. Sharp of Chester and Shawn Terrell of Waynesboro.

The division goes on at least 20 similar outings throughout the year including fishing trips, turkey hunts and waterfowl hunts. They sometimes host what they call “Outdoor Days.” 

The hunters came out at 5 a.m. Saturday and were in the stands by 6 a.m. They hunted until lunchtime.  

For lunch, hunters enjoyed Brunswick stew prepared by Halifax Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation President David   Vaughan.  

The Berryman Green Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the Revolution provided an assortment of fresh baked cookies for dessert and has co-sponsored this event with the federation for about five years providing funds to pay for lunch.

After lunch, hunters went back into the stands to hunt for more deer until nightfall.

At last year’s deer hunt, hunters downed 10 deer, and as of lunchtime Saturday the hunters had killed at least two.

 Wheelin’ Sportsmen State Coordinator Clark said sometime the hunters keep them, and other times the deer are donated to Hunters for the Hungry, an organization dedicated to feeding the homeless and hungry for the past 12 to 15 years. 

The year before last the organization gave over 400,000 pounds of venison to the needy.

Wounded warrior Allan McCrosky, a retired airman who is confined to a wheelchair after suffering spinal burns from radiation used to treat service-related cancer, said he never thought he could hunt in a wheelchair until he met Clark. 

McCrosky served in the Air Force from 1967 to 1997. He said this year was his first year participating in the outings with the division, adding he hadn’t been hunting since he was 18 years old. His wife passed away in July, and he said the outing has helped him get through his grief.

Barry Barbour, who suffers from a spinal disease, came out Saturday with his recent bride, Diane Williams Barbour. It was their first time at the Staunton River Hunt, but they have been to other hunts the division has hosted.

“It’s a great organization that gives people like me a place of fellowship with like-minded people,” Barbour said.

So far this year, the couple has killed two deer. Barbour killed a four-point buck during a hunt in Warsaw, and he killed a button buck at Lake Anna State Park.

The two said the deer are in storage, and they are in the process of eating them. They plan to donate their next deer kill. 

This was the fourth Wounded Warrior hunt that Staunton River State Park ha hosted, and the ninth the Halifax Area Chapter has sponsored.