NWTF Chapters Work to Promote Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges
Refuge: Big Muddy
The Missouri NWTF Chapter helped purchase 500 additional acres of the Big Muddy Refuge in Cooper County, which provides quality turkey and deer hunting.
Refuge: Cape May
The Cape May National Wildlife Refuge in southern New Jersey allowed spring and fall turkey hunting for the first time in 2011. NWTF member Ed Moore initiated the process in 2008 by enlisting support from local hunters and sporting groups. He also contacted NWTF staff who provided guidance throughout the process, which eventually included contact with some legislators. Approximately 5,800 acres of the 12,000-acre refuge, known as the Cedar Swamp Division, is now open to turkey hunters. The refuge is located in Cape May County.
Refuge: St. Marks
A youth deer hunt took place on the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Newport, Fla., last winter. Ten youth from across the state participated in the deer hunt on a 3,000-acre parcel that had been closed to hunting since the refuge opened in 1931.
Refuge staff wanted to increase public access to hunting and chose the Youth Hunting Program of Florida to facilitate the hunts. The program has also partnered with the refuge on other projects like the More Kids in the Woods grant, Project WILD workshops for educators and youth field days. There will be a youth turkey hunt this spring.
The activities at St. Marks have opened doors for hunts on the Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge (Polk and Highlands counties) this spring and fall.
Refuge: Earnest F. Hollings Ace Basin
Bobby Harrell doesnt remember how many deer he has harvested since an accident left him with a disability in 1993, but he does know how much he enjoys seeing people get back into doing stuff that they used to do but didnt think they could. Harrell participates in an annual hunt for people with mobility impairments at Ernest F. Hollings Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge, a hunt that has become so popular 15 tags are issued by lottery.
Two other wildlife refuges offer hunts for people with disabilities: Trempealeau NWR in Wisconsin has offered special weekday and weekend waterfowl hunting since 1989. Bombay Hook NWR in Delaware has invited hunters with disabilities to an annual waterfowl hunt since 2003. Professional waterfowl guides, Bombay Hook NWR personnel and NWTF volunteers assist more than a dozen hunters during the hunt.
The Savannah (Ga.) NWTF Chapter has supported this hunt for people with disabilities for more than 10 years. NWTF volunteers helped refuge staff take care of the hunters needs from taking them to stands, field dressing deer and providing lunch.
Look for turkey hunting opportunities on the refuge this April.