Blind Hunters?

I am not a killer. Years ago I accidentally ran down a coyote and I cried all day. I only kill insects in retaliation. They attacked first! You know their kinds: ticks and mosquitos and deer flies that feel like they took a pound of your flesh when they bite. All others I try to usher out the door.

So why is one of my favorite smells in the world gun-cleaning solvent? Why am I writing this page?

No matter how much education I have and no matter how many countries I have traveled in, at the core I remain the daughter of a backwoodsman. For my entire childhood I spent late afternoons for the first two weeks of December sitting in the window waiting for “the men” to come home from the woods. My first question was always “Did you get anything?” It was buck season and my father, grandfather and two uncles stayed at our house for most of the time. Our little suburban home became a de facto hunting cabin.

I had a BB gun range in the basement. I shot a .22. However, I cannot say I ever had the desire to hunt animals. Although I know a number of women who do hunt, it never appealed to me to kill anything. Had I been a boy, however, I know I would have been acculturated into the sport.

In real time it is now November. It is the time when many rural men young and old start spotlighting in fields and dreaming about bagging a trophy buck.

Believe it or not, people with all sorts of handicaps hunt. This includes the visually impaired. I remember years ago we had a special education student who was blind and his father wanted him to take the hunters’ safety class.

We thought he was crazy but apparently the man was not as crazy as we thought! Some states will license the visually impaired to hunt.

I was not able to find information for Pennsylvania but Iowa, Michigan and Texas all allow the visually impaired to hunt. Other states don’t have statutes against it.

How does this work? I mean really? I would not want to be down range of a blind person with a gun.

Some states require the visually impaired hunt with a sighted partner. There is historical precedent for this. The best of snipers have ‘hunted’ with a partner/spotter. I cite Vasily Zaytsev and his partner, Vladimir Filatov as my examples. (And no matter what you may have thought of the Russians over the years, I offer the people of Stalingrad as an example of true grit and endurance. They lived through hell. Comparison skill.)

But I like history, so I am off on a tangent again. Hunting with a sighted partner, yes. But even when hunting with a sighted partner, blind hunters apparently also use auditory clues. Carey McWilliams (BBC News, August 13, 2014) says flocks of ducks overhead sound like bicycle tires on pavement. Who would have thought it?

Others, like Steven Johnson in How Do Blind People Hunt? 10/30/2011, advocate the use of technology such as laser sights. Johnson backed legislation to make laser sights legal in his home state of Wisconsin.

Like I said when I started this page, it is not in my makeup to kill anything. If I had to live on a farm, I would be vegan. I do, however, appreciate the hunting tradition and culture. It is part of my heritage. (Also, hunters are some of the most vocal and dedicated conservationists I know, but that is another page).

If hunting is part of your life, too, there are ways to still get out there and participate. I will back your attempt the entire way. I will be the one standing behind you!

Next: patience, not my virtue

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