Hunting is a recreational outdoor activity enjoyed by millions, and Michigan has some of the best hunting grounds in the nation. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to find an accessible location for those with disabilities to take in the great outdoors and enjoy hunting. The good news is that the state of Michigan, and many non-profit organizations, work every day to make outdoor sports available to everyone.
Accessible Hunting Blinds in Michigan
Some of the best hunting grounds throughout Michigan provide accessible hunting blinds. The Rifle River Recreation Area owns one called the Huntmaster Classic hunting blind. This mobile blind can be placed at three different hunting locations by reservation or request, all accessible via mostly flat trails. The blind has plenty of interior space and a solar-powered lift that can raise the blind from ground level up to twenty feet in the air. During the offseason, this blind can also be reserved for wildlife viewing.
Sleepy Hollow State Park has two accessible blinds, one with a lift and one ground blind. Pinckney Recreation Area and Holly Recreation Area also sport wheelchair-accessible blinds, all of which can be reserved in advance. A list of game areas that have accessible hunting accommodations can also be found on the Michigan.gov website. Additionally, track chairs are available at many of these locations on a first come, first serve basis. These offroad treaded wheelchairs can traverse rough terrain and up to eight inches of water. These chairs are in limited supply, so the state parks recommend making your reservation at least 24 hours in advance.
Adaptive Hunting Programs in Michigan
There are numerous programs available to disabled hunters in Michigan. Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors (MiOFO) was founded by Thomas Jones, a veteran of the 101st Airborne who served two tours in Iraq and has a passion for getting disabled veterans back to nature. The program utilizes Action Track Chairs and accessible hunting blinds around the 4,600-acre Sharonville State Game Area. There are also special days in the Sharonville Game Area where hunting is only allowed for disabled hunters and their guides.
The Buckmasters American Deer Foundation (BADF) has over 100 chapters throughout the United States and seeks to aid those with physical and mental disabilities in getting back on the hunt. In Michigan, the Northwoods chapter in Iron Mountain assists adaptive hunters in finding accessible locations and acquiring the necessary equipment.
Adaptive Hunting Equipment
Equipment options for adaptive hunting are expansive, to say the least. Useful adaptive hunting mounts can be attached to a wheelchair to brace a rifle or compound bow. There are also a variety of different trigger systems that can assist those with limited hand or arm mobility. There’s even hunting equipment for paraplegics or those who can only operate machinery via the use of their breath/mouth. Beadaptive.com has a great overview of some of the accessible hunting products available on the market.
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Michigan’s Rules for Adaptive Hunting
Those with disabilities can apply for a disability bow permit and hunt during late bow season with crossbows or modified adaptive bows. By Michigan law, a physician can certify their patient to be eligible for this permit automatically based on the type of disability or if the patient shows an inability to draw a 35-pound bow string and hold it for 4 or more seconds. Disabled hunters are also eligible to apply for a permit to hunt and shoot from a standing vehicle, off-road vehicle, or other mobility device. If you do choose to hunt from a vehicle, it’s wise to mark the vehicle with an orange flag to show that you are an active hunter.
All normal hunting rules do still apply to adaptive hunters. There are excellent PDF versions of Michigan hunting regulation handbooks on the Michigan government website that can guide you through all the steps you need to accomplish to be hunting legally. Disabled veterans and military members can also apply for any basic hunting permit free of charge.
Adaptive Hunting Safety Concerns
Adaptive hunting can add an extra layer of complexity to safety protocols when hunting. It is wise to make sure all sharp objects, such as hunting knives, are kept safely put away when not in use so they do not become complications in the case of a fall or other accident. Using adaptive equipment for shooting or bow hunting can also create some extra challenges. Make sure to find an opportunity to train with your new equipment before heading into the great outdoors. Always remember to treat all firearms as if they are loaded, use the firearm’s safety, keep your finger away from the trigger until you’re ready to fire, and never point a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot.
Get Back Outside with Adaptive Hunting in Michigan
Ultimately adaptive hunting is good for your physical and mental health. It creates lasting friendships, amazing stories, and confidence in the independence of one’s own abilities. Carson Nyenhuis, who was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident, is just one example of someone who was helped by a non-profit (Hunt 2 Heal) and was able to get back to one of his favorite activities, saying, “Getting back out and into the woods was everything, it lifted my spirits and my whole attitude.”
Whether you’re looking to explore Michigan’s gorgeous natural beauty through hunting, fishing, or any other outdoor activity, wheelchair-accessible transportation is a must. Whether you need a wheelchair-accessible rental van for a few days or are looking to purchase your own wheelchair van, the team at Clock Mobility is here to help. View our online inventory, request a rental quote, or visit one of our four Michigan locations to get started on your journey to get back to the great outdoors.