Although he is not from this area, Bob Fulcher says he has always had a fondness for the hills of Highland County. So after he took a paraplegic friend hunting and saw how much it meant to the friend, he decided he wanted to do more.
Last spring Fulcher and a group of local residents started what they call “Ability Hunts” that are part of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Wheelin’ Sportsmen Outreach Program. The group took eight individuals with various disabilities turkey hunting on that inaugural event, then Saturday through Monday they took five more people with disabilities hunting.
“We accept all disabled people from youth, women and men, and wounded veterans whether their disability is visible or invisible. We have taken several soldiers hunting who suffered with PTSD, but no physical setbacks,” said Fulcher, a member of the NWTF Ohio Board of Directors.
The all-expenses-paid hunt was held on four farms near Hillsboro and was supported by donations from local NWTF chapter banquets.
“It just makes you feel so good to be involved in helping someone else,” Fulcher said. “As much as I like being successful, I like helping other people be successful just as much. I get every bit as much out of that. I started out taking a friend who was a paraplegic and you see how much it means to someone who can’t do that without assistance. It just makes you feel good that you can do that.”
The past weekend started with a meet and greet dinner on Friday at the Hillsboro Ponderosa. The group spent the weekend at the Bayview Cabins at Rocky Fork Lake then hunted on farms that Fulcher said are owned by local residents Jay Mahan, Matt Goodwin, Thelma Robbins and Carey Michael.
Local resident Randy Dyer is co-chairman of the hunts.
“Our hunters included a Hillsboro woman and a Cincinnati man who are both paraplegics, a senior hunter 77 years young, a Navy veteran from Michigan and a 14-year-old boy with cerebral palsy from North Carolina,” Fulcher said. “This boy’s dad was invited on this hunt because he is a firefighter who lost a leg due to injuries received on the job. He opted to ask us to take his son hunting in his place because he has cerebral palsy and loves to hunt. That touched me, so I invited his son on this deer hunt and will take the father hunting with us next spring on our Ability Hunt for turkeys.”
Fulcher said that earlier this year when he decided to start the program he put the information on social media and the idea exploded. He said he plans to keep holding two hunts a year and that they will be in Highland County.
“I grew up in Jamestown, but I’ve been coming to Hillsboro since I was a little bitty boy,” Fulcher said. “I went to church camp at Fort Hill and I just grew an affection for these hills. I’ve been hunting in Highland County for a long time.”
Fulcher said the group works some with Wounded Warrior hunt leaders, but that they also we want to keep local residents involved.
“It’s important to me to include local people because the money we raise is raised in Southern Ohio and I like to put the money back into the local community,” Fulcher said.
Despite prepping this weekend’s hunting locations with lots of corn, Fulcher said the five hunters did not bag any deer this weekend. But he said that each group saw a deer, two of the hunters missed shots, and two of the other hunters passed on bucks because they were too small.
“We had a good time and got these people outdoors and that’s what this thing is all about,” Fulcher said. “It’s something I plan to do in Highland County as long as I’m able to.”
For more information contact Fulcher at 937-270-3299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.