'No Limit' Hunters

Published 12:37 pm Monday, January 26, 2009

By By Chandler Myers
Virgil Armstrong sat in a hunting stand with his rifle mounted waiting for the right deer to step out into the clearing of woods that lay out in front him Thursday morning.
For Armstrong sitting in a hunting stand early in the morning, holding a rifle is not out of the ordinary, but what was different about Armstrong was the way he was hunting. Confined to a wheelchar the hunter was sitting in a specially made hunting stand that lifts him up so he is able to have a better view of his hunting layout. On his wheelchair is a mount made of spare car parts that holds his gun. He blows into a straw to pull the trigger.
Armstrong, a native of Flomaton, was hunting at the Outdoors Without Limits annual hunt at the Matthews hunting grounds.
He along with 14 other hunters spent Wednesday and Thursday out in the woods surrounding the Matthews camp hunting for deer in the cold January weather.
Outdoors Without Limits (OWL) is a national not-for-profit organization that promotes awareness and teamwork between disabled and non-disabled individuals through education and outdoor recreation opportunities for people of all ages, skill levels and disabilities, according to the organization’s Web site.
Kurt Thomas, founder and CEO of OWL, said he founded the program in 2007 after starting programs for the disabled in 1996 with Wheelin’ Sportsman.
Thomas’ decision to create programs such as OWL came after he was injured by a falling tree that caused him to live his life as a T-12 paraplegic.
The program allows for individuals with disabilities such as Thomas and Armstrong to enjoy life outdoors.
Gene White, a member of OWL and a native of Flomaton, said he attended his first event several years ago and loved the concept. He added that it was not easy to set an event up in the area.
At the end of the first day, four hunters had hit their prize and killed a deer in the hunt, according to White and Thomas.
The beginning of the second day did not look as if it were going to be as successful, but that did not keep Armstrong from pulling in the largest deer of the hunt.
Armstrong, a native of Flomaton and member of OWL, shot an eight-point buck at about 9:15 a.m.
Armstrong said he had waited patiently all morning for the right deer to come along.
Armstrong’s capability to hunt is furthered with special equipment that he uses at the hunt.
His hunting stand uses parts from an RV that lifts him up, and his gun mount was built from spare automobile parts. These were made by his friend Raymond Jerkins.
The gun mount that is placed on Armstrong’s wheelchair costs around $3,000 if it is purchased from a manufacturer, but his was made at a fraction of the cost.
Jerkins, an Atmore native and volunteer for OWL, said he likes to build things and was happy to help his friend.
The hunt is not just for experienced outdoorsmen like Armstrong and White. Youngsters are able to get involved as well, and one in particular has enjoyed his time at OWL events.
Seven-year-old James Holzpfel was attending his second OWL event in a row after attending the National Ultimate Adventure Deer Hunt in Troy from Jan. 15-18.
Holzpfel has nabbed two deer in his trips to hunting events, with one being an eight-point buck in Troy.
He said getting the buck was exciting and he even had a laugh with some of the other hunters after they took his deer to clean it. He added he saw more deer on Wednesday morning.
For more information on OWL contact Kurt Thomas at 706-788-9878 or visit the organization’s Web site at www.outdoorswithoutlimits.net.

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