The Bong Naturalist Association (BNA) was happy to sponsor a special pheasant hunt with the southeastern chapter of Adaptive Sportsman in early November. The BNA was joined by Northern Illinois Chapter of NAVHDA, Ugly Dog Hunting and the DNR in welcoming hunters to the park for an accessible hunting experience. The Adaptive Sportsmen organization works to bring recreational experiences to people who may otherwise not be able to participate due to physical limitations. And with the help of organizations like the BNA, NAVHDA, Ugly Dog Hunting and the DNR, we can work together to make hunting and other outdoor experiences more accessible.
Brunch and a safety briefing started the day, before the hunters set off. The hunters used all terrain tracked wheelchairs, which allowed them to access a variety of terrain. Working alongside the expertly trained dogs, all of the hunters reached their bag limits. The BNA and volunteers then provided a lunch back at the visitors’ center. The event was met with enthusiasm by everyone involved, and lunch ended with the commitment to hold another pheasant hunt next year. After the hunt, a number of sportsmen were enthusiastic to hear that RBSRA has accessible hiking. They were able to go out for a hike the same day. Due to a generous grant from the C D Besadny Fund of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, the BNA has also recently restored an accessible path from Lot G to a new accessible blind, which can be used for photography and viewing nature, alongside its obvious place in hunting. Note: The new accessible blind is scheduled to be installed before the end of the year (weather permitting) by the DNR Wildlife team.
These events are an opportunity to bring out a wide range of people, from active sportsmen to nature lovers and photographers, along with volunteers. Creating accessible programs like this allows more people to enjoy our beautiful park— and fuels a sense of welcoming inclusivity. We want hunters. We want nature lovers. We want photographers. We want everyone to feel welcome here, with resources to build positive experiences. The BNA would be happy to work toward hosting more events – not limited to hunting – with organizations for people of all ages, abilities and sensitivities.