Young Calvin raised his firearm to acquire a bead through his rifle scope on the live target standing in the field 100 yards distant. The sun’s early rays silhouetted the outline of the animal’s tawny summer coat to the transfixed teenager. Pressing the butt plate of the high-powered rifle firmly into his shoulder he leaned forward on the ledge of the deer stand window. Settling into his wheel chair, remembering to keep his left eye shut to peer more intently with the right, he gently clicked the safety off. It was the same routine he’d repeated countless times before but at tin cans, with an air rifle, never like this, with a hunting rifle aimed at a Whitetail deer.
On this brisk South Dakota morning Calvin’s .243 rifle crackled sending a bullet precisely to its intended mark. Calvin had demonstrated to himself and others that accomplishing tasks like this are well within the ability of a wheel-chair bound individual. Today he felt like anybody else.
The PDR Hunt is a non-profit organization registered in South Dakota in 2008. The organization’s annual event held near Clark, SD, provides a big game hunt exclusively for physically disabled youth. It is a safe, adult supervised, outdoor adventure for special needs children between the ages of 12 and 18. The weekend deer camp is completely free to them and their parent or guardian. Qualified participants receive an expenses-paid weekend adventure in mid-September for themselves and one parent or guardian. The trip includes: meals and lodging for 2 nights, a travel stipend, food, access to firearms, ammunition, hunting privileges on private land, hunting from handicapped-accessible enclosed deer stands, individual guides, transportation in the field, and game processing.
PDR Hunt founder, Dean Rasmussen, who lives in Clark, SD created the PDR Hunt to honor his late grandson, Payton Dean Rasmussen who died from spinal meningitis. When asked he offers that he feels the PDR Hunt is a way for him to connect with the infant grandson he was never able to share the outdoors with.
Here’s what some past PDR hunters have said:
Jordan from Ortonville, Minnesota says the attraction for him is not the taking of a deer but “the people he meets and the friends he makes”. Felicia, a stylish young lady from Gettysburg, SD coyly teases that she enjoys out-shooting the boys. And Calvin, the young hunter at the start of this story shared this insight; “I know there are some things I am not able to do, but today I learned that I CAN HUNT.”
The PDR Hunt is presently accepting applications from prospective hunters for its 2019 Hunt, Sept. 13-15. Interested families can contact Dean Rasmussen for more information at 605-233-0331 or email@example.com. Applications are at: pdryouthhunt.com or PDR Facebook page.