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Angelina Wheelin' Sportsmen offers new technology for hunters with physical disabilities

About two dozen hunters with physical disabilities will participate in the 7th annual Angelina Wheelin’ Sportsmen event this week.

The two-day hunt will be held on three managed lands in Nacogdoches. The hunters apply to the U.S. Forest Service to be a part of the hunt, which is free, according to U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist Jason Engle. He says special deer stands are moved in that allow hunters to wheel up into a blind, and other modifications are possible.

“I’ve had individuals hunt before who literally had to hunt with a joystick because all they could do is move their fingers,” Engle said, who works in the Angelina and Sabine National Forests. “In order to pull the trigger on a gun, they had blow through a straw that would allow it to shoot.”

More than 50 volunteers will put it on. Each hunter is paired with a host. The U.S. Forest Service partners with the local National Wild Turkey Federation Chapters. Craig White is Nacogdoches chapter president. He says making hunting accessible to all people is one of the missions of his organization.

“I hunt all the time. I’ve got kids and I take them hunting. We go without even thinking about it. You want to go hunting? We load up and go hunting. A lot of these people -- a majority -- can’t do that. They can’t just get in their wheelchair and roll across the woods,” White said.

The Angelina Wheelin’ Sportsmen event will feature a trailer of new technologies that enable hunters with disabilities to participate.

It takes place Dec. 11 and 12 at the Stephen F. Austin State Experiment Station, Winston Tree Farm and Alazon Wildlife Management Area. The event has received two national awards.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.