Hunting Heritage Group played host to its seventh annual TJ Memorial Youth and Disabled Deer Hunt on Sept. 7-8.
In cooperation with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, it is in memory of TJ Hellerud.
Hellerud, who died at the early age of 16 in a car accident, was an avid hunter who spent many hours up in a tree stand. Hunting was more than just a pastime or hobby for TJ; it taught him the balance in nature.
Cynthia Maier, TJ’s mother, said hunting taught TJ, “the struggle for survival, the reality of death and the apprectiation of life.”
There were seven youth that attended the event, along with a special guest from Solomon that has Cerebral Palsy and another special guest from Clearwater with Down Syndrome.
Each hunter had the opportunity to harvest a deer while hunting on some fantastic properties, including the Cedar Bluff Wildlife Area.
Out of the nine hunters that participated in the hunt, three bucks and six does were harvested.
Joshua Glavin, this year’s special guest with Cerebral Palsy, harvested a real nice 10-point Whitetail deer buck. Parker May, the special guest with Down Syndrome, harvested a nice Whitetail deer buck in full velvet and a doe.
While most of the hunters were from Trego County and its surrounding counties, there were some that traveled from all over the state of Kansas in order to participate in the hunt.
The participants did not only hunt, but were mentored on a variety of other subjects. They received instructions on deer habitat and management, hunting strategies, gun handling, marksmanship, and shot placement.
Each hunter was taken to the range to zero their rifle. After zeroing their rifle the youth and guide left for their ground blind. The participants also had a guardian accompany them to their hunting spot. The participants, parents, friends of the family, and volunteers were also treated to a buffalo burger lunch.
The event was a huge success thanks to the generous sponsors, the knowledgeable local volunteers, the gracious landowners the enthusiastic kids, and the parents/guardians that brought their kids out for the weekend. Special hunts like this one are part of the Kansas Hunter Recruitment and Retention Program called “PASS IT ON.”
This program addresses the need to recruit new hunters and retain existing hunters in order to ensure the future of hunting in Kansas.