SF to host annual disabled sportsman deer hunt
South Fayette is encouraging disabled individuals to enjoy the outdoors despite their physical challenges when the township conducts its 12th annual deer hunt.
The disabled sportsman deer hunt will be held Oct. 24 and 26 at Boy’s Home Park and Oct. 25 at the Alpine Club. The hunts begin between 5:30 and 6 a.m.
Butch Truitt, who became the township’s parks and recreation director earlier this year, is looking forward to being involved with the hunt for the first time. “We try to create a real positive experience for the hunters,” he said.
“It’s bigger than just the hunt. It’s all about sportsmanship and people and helping people,” Truitt added. “It’s all positive. The ultimate goal is not to harvest a deer. The goal is to give (disabled hunters) an outlet to do something different.”
Tom Sray agrees that the hunt is not just about getting a deer. It’s about being able to get out into nature. “It’s just nice to be outdoors in the fall,” said the long-time South Fayette Township commissioner.
An avid hunter, Sray has participated in the event every year since its inception. Since an accident left him paralyzed more than 20 years ago, Sray is confined to a wheelchair.
Sray initiated the notion of having a hunt geared toward disabled individuals. He presented the idea to then-parks and recreation director Jerry Males.
“A lot of people come. It’s beautiful,” Sray said of being in the outdoors during the fall.
Sray added, every year at least one hunter comes away with a deer. In his years participating, Sray has harvested about five deer.
“We don’t get many, but we usually get some,” Sray said.
Anyone with a disability who has a love of hunting and a valid hunting licence can attend. Able-bodied volunteers are encouraged to attend and assist disabled hunters, conduct drives and drag the deer.
“The volunteers are our legs,” laughed Sray.
Volunteers and township workers construct hunting blinds from hay bales. Those who are able can sit behind the blinds to spot the deer. Participants with very limited mobility can obtain special permits that allow hunting from vehicles.
Participants do not have to reside in South Fayette Township, however, hunters should have a valid antlerless deer tag for Wildlife Management Unit 2B, which encompasses most of Allegheny County.
In addition to volunteers, sponsors are needed.
To volunteer, sponsor or sign up for the hunt, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-221-8700.
NOTE: Boy’s Home Park will be closed to the public during the hunts Oct. 24 and 26.