This past weekend I was fortunate to spend a few days in the outdoors with participants and volunteers of the American Disability Adventures group on the 6,500 acre plus, Seranova Ranch. It was about as enjoyable time as anybody could ever have asked for. The property itself is amazingly well cared for by the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the wildlife is flourishing there.
One of the management tools available, and the most effective, for maintaining such a healthy and diverse population of wildlife there, is by controlled hunting. And to perform this task, the land managers and the ADA invite a group of disabled hunters who may not be physically able to hunt without assistance. This past weekend, fourteen such spirited outdoorsmen gathered at the camp and were escorted to various pre-scouted locations about the property by the team of volunteers.
Over the course of three days of hunting, those fourteen hunters accounted for eleven deer and seven hogs making this one of the finest success ratios I’ve ever enjoyed witnessing in any of the hundreds of hunt camps I’ve visited. My friend Troy Springer was the first of the hunters to score on a fat doe, Friday morning and was escorted back to camp with a huge grin!
The success of the hunt is only half-way to be attributed to the incomparable management practices of the SWFWMD, but in no small part to the team of volunteers at the ADA, assembled by their director, Mister Bill Blommel, of Lakeland. Bill’s volunteer staff is made up of some o the most experienced outdoorsmen you could hope to find anywhere. They are heavily involved in pre-scouting the property, placing blinds and coaching the disabled participants on deer movements and expected travel patterns. Then after the shots ring out, the participants return to the site to track and recover the downed game, clean and process the carcasses and pack them on ice in the participant’s coolers.
Mister Bill’s wife, Sweetie Blommel is an indispensable part of the team, managing all aspects of the organization. As well is on hand with her super tracking dog, Riley, a bloodhound with many hours of training to allow her to find downed deer in even the thickest of cover. I’ve had the fortune of watching that team of Sweetie and Riley, trailing through dense cover and I remain in awe of their skill.
I hunted there myself as a guest participant and though I did not take a shot on a game animal, I did see deer and hogs aplenty. Even one buck who would easily have exceeded the minimum score measurements to qualify for the state record books. It was a grand pleasure to watch him tending to his herd of does. I had a few people offer their condolences that I didn’t take a deer or hog home with me, but I surely am not at a loss. I’ve never based my opinion of the success of a hunt upon whether or not I make a kill. Success is found in the unparalleled joy of just being there in the wilds, enjoying the beauty of it all. And beauty abounds at Seranova!
As always, I’d love to hear about your adventures and maybe see a photo or two of your successes, so drop me a line at [email protected] God bless and Good Hunting!