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by Steve McCadams

    Sportsmen with handicaps face many challenges. Getting in and out of a duck blind is certainly one of them. From launching a boat to just getting in it can be a high hurdle.

    Thanks to the efforts of the Springville Waterfowlers Association (SWA) and several other individuals and organizations, those duck hunters who have physical impairments will now have a place to go that’s ready to hunt and easily accessible.

    From the gravel roadbed at Old Union landing at TWRA’s West Sandy Wildlife Management Area stretches a long ramp whose destination is a well built, roomy, and camouflaged duck blind. The treated wood ramp is level with the roadbed, making it accessible to someone in a wheelchair.

    No boats needed. Decoys already there, tied, and floating.

    “We’re proud of this project and dedicate the handicap blind to TWRA and all those sportsmen who now have a place to go,” said SWA spokesman Chuck Mullins of Nashville. “This project is a labor of love and hopefully some folks can enjoy a cool, crisp morning scanning the skies here come duck season that otherwise wouldn’t have a accessible place to go.”

    At a cost of $4,800 in materials and some six weekends of labor, members of the SWA donated their time and efforts to complete the task. Posts were set into concrete and the platform and guide rail had to be built to certain specifications.

    The blind will accommodate three handicap hunters at a time who must be accompanied by at least one adult. Availability of the blind will be coordinated through TWRA where applicants complete a form and various days are selected through a draw system.

    “A lot of folks donated materials to us for this project and thanks to them someone will get to enjoy some good times in the outdoors this fall and winter,” said Richard Edwards of the SWA. “We invite anyone to join and participate in SWA. Anyone interested can call me at 642-3177.”

    Nestled around a cluster of oak trees in a field and facing the confluence of Beaver Dam and Holley Fork creeks in Springville bottom, the blind will have decoys in place, thanks to Hulmes Sporting Goods of Paris. Additional oak trees and willows will be planting to give the blind and ramp a natural thicket appearance.

    Area business donating materials were Paris Plumbing Supply, Lakeway Building Supply, Nathan Replogle, C.A. Craig, and Tennessee Athletic Wheelchair Association.

SWA members participating in the construction were Larry Ellis, Richard Edwards, Gerald Howard, Ronnie Cole, Tas Gardner, Chuck Mullins, Mark Hall, Clark Lewis, Charles Washburn, Steve Shanks, Jim Davis, and Jimmy Williams.

    Also helping complete the project were Lee Cole, Terry Pierpoint, and Scott Phiffer.

    TWRA officials on hand for the dedication were Assistant Director Ron Fox, area manager Dan Fuqua, and Ronnie Cole.

    “Working with the SWA has been a pleasure and this project and the overall atmosphere here is very positive,” said Fox. “The cooperation and sportsmanship from this group deserves a lot of recognition.”

    TVA’s Don Auslebrooks and Jeff Butler were also recognized for their assistance.

    When the water fills the field later this fall and north winds put a chill in the air, some hunters who otherwise might not have had the chance to participate in the season will be there. Ducks will descend and bank downwind, sending a thrill and rapid heartbeat to some handicap sportsmen.

    Thanks to the efforts of a lot of folks, these special hunters will enjoy the thrills and atmosphere of a duck blind that many of us take for granted. Just getting in and out of a car, transferring the gear, loading a boat and motor, putting out decoys and then getting into the blind is often a steep hill to climb.

    As a result, many have stayed at home. Yet this season, there’s a lot of waterfowlers who have seen to it these handicap hunters have a place to go without fear of the challenge.

    Now it’s up to the ducks to make the story complete!

Steve McCadams
  is a professional hunting and fishing guide here in the Paris Landing area and host of The Outdoor Channel's television series  IN-PURSUIT. 



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