Wildlife Refuge Offers Unique Hunt

Published 01/07 2012 10:15PM

Updated 07/06 2012 11:49AM

ST. JOSEPH, Mo.-- Local hunters hit the trails on a hunt that was anything but ordinary.

Missouri Department of Conservation shut down Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge Saturday for a private hunt, delighting those involved.

"I really enjoy coming up here, it's awesome hunting," said hunter Gary Riley. 

He was lucky enough to tag two deer early in the morning.

"Not bad for a one-handed man," Riley said.

Riley has been hunting, one-handed, since he was young.

"I just grew up doing it. I rest the gun on my arm, and I take a deep breath and squeeze the trigger, just like everybody else," Riley said.

He was one of 85 hunters who had the Refuge to themselves today, under one condition.

Hunters had to use muzzle-loading or cap and ball firearms to shoot so there were no modern firearms allowed.

These do not have the range of a modern-day firearm and only allow one shot at a time.

The annual event started in 1988 and this year more than 800 people applied for the two-day hunt.

One hunter tried for nine years before he was selected.

The old-fashioned hunting is a style that requires some adjusting.

Some people sit and let the deer come to them, while others walk around and stir them up.

"Some even use paint ladders in wetland areas," said Refuge Operations Specialist, Corey Kudrna.

Others prefer a different approach.

One hunter climbed to the top of a tree to get a better view of the landscape and wait for deer sightings.

"I've seen someone climb a branch, but I've never seen someone climb to the top of the tree before," Kudrna said.

Hunters lined up at 4:30 a.m. in preparation for the open gate.

After a long day, some people fell asleep sitting upright in their chairs, while some people are fired up for the future.

"I had a really awesome time, very exciting, looking forward to putting in for it next year and for years to come." said Riley.

For more information on this managed hunt and other events at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/SquawCreek.

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