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Louisiana Youngster's Special Harvest

Brandon Soileau
Brandon Soileau of Krotz Springs, La., harvested this 8-point buck Nov. 29, at Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) from a ground blind designed for physically challenged hunters.
From Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

-- For any 14-year-old boy, taking down an 8-point, 240-pound buck is a dream come true. However, for Krotz Springs, La., native Brandon Soileau, a trophy buck is just the icing on the cake of the opportunity to go hunting.

Brandon was born with spina bifida and is paralyzed from the chest down. He has the use of his arms and hands though, which allow him to do two things he loves dearly and those are hunting and fishing.

Brandon has been taking advantage of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries new physically challenged hunting opportunities on Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) the past two years.

Last year, Brandon almost filled his limit by harvesting five deer from the Sherburne WMA physically challenged deer blind. This year, Brandon took a doe on Nov. 28, and the 8-point, 240-pound buck with an 18-inch spread and 20-inch main beams the next day at 4:30 p.m.

Since physically challenged permitted hunters are allowed a helper, his godfather Tim Bourque was with Brandon in the deer blind on Nov. 29. Brandon said he and his godfather got to the blind about 2:30 p.m. The young man said it wasn't long before his godfather noticed a buck in the far corner of the field.

"My godfather told me to shoot when it got within 50 yards, so I did and the buck folded up and ran," Brandon said. "I knew I hit him good, and we high-fived and hugged each other.

"I sat there waiting to see how big he was. When he brought the buck out to the truck we both cried," Brandon said.

LDWF started the physically challenged hunting program in 2007 by building 19 wheelchair-specific deer stands on five WMAs and a handful of wheelchair accessible duck blinds on four WMAs.

For most of the wheelchair-confined deer hunts on WMAs, LDWF has made it possible for the user to drive a vehicle to the stand. On a few WMAs, All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) are required for the more remote locations. Once at the stand, the user can roll the wheelchair right into the custom-made 8-by-8-foot ground deer stand.

"All of the physically challenged deer stands were built in front of food plots and in restricted areas that have never been hunted legally," said LDWF Physically Challenged Hunt Coordinator Mark Roy.

"This should be some of the best hunting areas in the state as hunting pressure has been non-existent in years past. These hunters will be in for a great experience."

To qualify for these hunts, potential hunters must possess the free Class I (Wheelchair Bound) Physically Challenged Hunter's Permit. These permit applications and the list of requirements can be found on LDWF's website at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/licenses or at any LDWF district office.

LDWF has offered physically challenged hunts on Alexander State Forest, Big Colewa Bayou, Buckhorn, Clear Creek, Elbow Slough, Jackson-Bienville, Ouachita and Sherburne WMAs.

All physically challenged deer hunts are scheduled by reservation on a first-come, first-serve basis by calling an LDWF district office at:
Minden - 318-371-3050
Monroe - 318-343-4044
Alexandria - 318-487-5885
Ferriday - 318-757-4571
Lake Charles - 337-491-2575
Opelousas - 337-948-0255
Baton Rouge - 225-765-2360

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