Deer hunt gives disabled fun weekend [UPDATED]Published 11:04am Wednesday, November 14, 2012 Updated 11:04am Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Roger Illies broke his back in 2010. At the same time, he found out he had bone cancer. Yet on Tuesday, he was enjoying a bright, sunny day of deer hunting from an accessible blind at Orwell Dam near Fergus Falls.
Ron Weller, Executive Director of Midwest Outdoors Unlimited, found out about Illies injury and invited him to join the group.
“If it wasn’t for Ron, I wouldn’t do half the hunting I do,” said the 79 year-old Illies. “It’s a really great organization.”
Midwest Outdoors Unlimited provides outdoor recreational activities for disabled American veterans, disabled individuals and disabled youth in Minnesota. Tuesday was a special, once-a-year hunt for six disabled people and their companions in the nature sanctuary at Orwell that is otherwise closed to deer hunting.
“The individuals and groups that we help don’t have enough funds, volunteers or help to do these things,” said Weller. “Our goal is to help them to enjoy these activities that people who don’t have disabilities enjoy and to improve their quality of life, to help them feel they are not forgotten.”
Roger Indieke certainly doesn’t feel forgotten. Tuesday he was out volunteering, but last year he participated as a disabled hunter.
“I had just had lung cancer surgery about a month before when Ron got me out hunting,” said Indieke. “It was meaningful that he would think so much of another person, and get me to come out on a hunt.”
Others participating on the hunt Tuesday included a 24-year-old man with spina bifida, a 24-year-old woman that had had a brain aneurysm and stroke, and Rodney Ebersuiller, an 88-year-old who was a POW for five months in Italy in World War II.
“I really thought last year would be my last one hunting,” said Ebersuiller. “I thought it was beyond possibilities that I could dress another deer.”
Midwest Outdoors not only provides hunting equipment and supplies if needed, volunteers will field dress and haul deer too. There is also specialty equipment for the disabled.
“We assess an individual’s ability to shoot during safety training,” said Weller. “We can help site their gun, provide an aiming stick.”
The group also has two specially equipped “sip and puff” rifles that can be triggered by blowing into a mouth piece, for those participants that can’t pull a trigger, and a battery powered sighting monitor so that an assistant can help a visually impaired hunter.
Weller started the nonprofit six years ago because there was a need in the area.
“I had volunteered with another group out of St. Cloud for many years, but there wasn’t an organization in our area,” said Weller. “We organize or support several hunts throughout the year.”
While Weller seems to do an incredible amount of outreach, the group could use more volunteers and donations. A fundraising calendar is on sale now through December, and includes a raffle ticket so for a prize given away every Tuesday and Thursday, each month. Calendars are $40 each.
At this time, there is no cost to participate.
“It’s the local folks, the local community that helps Midwest Outdoors Unlimited reach out to those with disabilities and help get them outdoors,” said Weller.
To volunteer or make a donation, contact Ron Weller at 320-260-6023 or email email@example.com