New equipment helps wounded warriors hunt
Andrew Weissenberger, military veteran, sits in a new track chair next to one of the new hydraulic elevated tree stands Aug. 24. The new equipment was purchased by outdoor recreation to help wounded warriors hunt.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 30, 2012) -- With deer hunting season around the corner, Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation is making sure that everyone, including wounded warriors, has the opportunity to enjoy its almost 50,000 acres of hunting grounds.

Outdoor recreation purchased two new hydraulic elevated tree stands, called Carolina Growlers, that are handicap accessible, as well as a track chair, which is essentially a wheelchair with tracks -- much like a bulldozer -- instead of wheels, according to John Clancy, outdoor recreation and Lake Tholocco lodging program manager.

"[The tree stands] are ground level, so that a gentlemen or lady that is wheelchair bound can go up to it independently," he said. "They can open the door, go inside and turn a key that will give them control to raise [the tree stand] up to any elevation they want to go."

Clancy said that the tree stands are also portable and have the capability to be hooked up to a trailer to be moved to desired locations.

"The Growler is solar powered and is fully capable of going anywhere on post," said Lance Oliver, of ODR maintenance. "It lifts up about 20 feet when it's fully extended and can hold up to 750 pounds."

The track chair, which is much smaller than the tree stands, is much more portable individually and works just like an electric wheelchair, said the program manager.

"If a hunter decides that he or she wants to sit in a certain area, they can actually just carry a portable blind that will fold up and take it with them on the chair," said Clancy. "They can go into the woodline, and pop the blind right over the top of themselves and sit and hunt. They don't ever have to transport themselves out of their chair other than from their vehicle to the chair."

The chair is battery powered and rechargeable, and can operate for up to four hours on a single charge, added Oliver.

Andrew Weissenberger, a military veteran and wounded warrior, said the new equipment provides wounded warriors the ability to access areas and vantage points that were previously unavailable to them.

"Just because we are disabled hunters in one way or the other doesn't mean we don't still participate in activities that we love," said Weissenberger, who has been hunting for almost 35 years. "Without equipment like this, we wouldn't have the opportunity to take advantage of the sport."

The need for the equipment came from talks with different wounded warriors who were asked what they would like to see from outdoor recreation.

"I spoke with Soldiers and wounded warriors and asked them what they needed. They said, 'We need something that is accessible that can get us elevated and something that will move us around,'" said Clancy. "They said they need the capability, and that's why we got the equipment that we did."

The funding for the equipment came directly from last year's Wounded Warrior Fall Hunt, which will continue again this year from Oct. 20-27. Anyone can participate in the hunt.

The registration for the hunt is $25, but people don't have to hunt to be involved and can purchase a door prize tickets for $5, according to Leigh Ann Dukes, sponsorship and advertising sales manager for the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

"The purpose for the hunt is to identify the needs of our local wounded warriors and meet those needs by purchasing recreational equipment that is instrumental in enhancing their quality of life," she said. "As we continue to discover the needs of our local wounded warriors, we also have to be ready to meet those needs and this event helps make that possible."

For more information on the new equipment or the Wounded Warrior Fall Hunt, call 255-4305.

Page last updated Thu August 30th, 2012 at 16:58