Special Deer Hunt Held for Quadriplegic and Blind Hunters

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Until an auto accident ended Jeff Richards' use of his arms and legs eight years ago, he was an avid hunter.

The disability kept Richards from hunting again -- until this week.

On Monday, Richards, a resident at the Hurricane Rehabilitation Center, went deer hunting with his brother Burt, parents Tom and Carol and a few employees of the rehabilitation center.

The outing took some advance planning, everything from obtaining a deer tag to setting up a special van for Jeff Richards.

"I used to hunt everything -- geese, pheasant, deer, elk -- and I've always done it my whole life," he said.

Burt Richards heard about the special disabled hunt that runs from Monday to Friday before the open deer season begins on Saturday and put in his brother's name for a tag.

The special hunt allows quadriplegics and the legally blind to go hunting with a companion.

It has been part of the Division of Wildlife Resources hunting proclamation for the last several years.

Lynn Chamberlain, conservation outreach manager with the division, said not very many people take advantage of the disabled hunt.

"There really isn't a huge demand for it, but the Division of Wildlife wanted to do it," Chamberlain said. "It's pretty difficult to get out and compete and the disabled need a special opportunity to give them a fair chance at getting something."

Monday morning, before heading to the Pine Mountains to look for a deer, Jeff Richards went target shooting. Even though it was the first time he held a gun in eight years, he hit the target every time.

His family is prepared to take him out all week, if necessary, to bring down a deer.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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