— FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — Coleman Patterson has hunted deer since he was a young man, but hip surgery and arthritis now make it impossible for the 74-year-old to hike into the woods and enjoy his hobby.
"I'm not in a wheelchair, yet, knock on wood, but I'm about two steps to it," Patterson said.
He said he was thrilled to learn there were hunting areas set aside for disabled hunters and even more thrilled to learn there will be two new hunting houses available locally for disabled hunters.
"There are a lot of people who are handicapped that like to hunt," Patterson said.
Mitchell Marks, a wildlife biologist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Wildlife Section, said two handicapped-accessible shooting houses will be installed at the Cherokee Physically Disabled Hunting Area, bringing the total there to three.
Shooting houses — also called hunting houses, hunting blinds, box blinds or deer blinds — are small, often elevated, enclosed structures used by hunters to conceal themselves while hunting deer.
"We've tried to come up with a way of funding these two other shooting houses," Marks said.
Assistant Colbert County Engineer Jeremy Robison said the Road Department received a $5,000 grant from the Colbert County Community Development Committee to purchase materials for the project. Each house requires about $1,000 worth of materials.
The Road Department enlisted the assistance of students at Colbert County and Cherokee high schools and the Muscle Shoals Center for Technology to construct the shooting houses and duck blinds.
A duck blind is a structure duck hunters use to conceal themselves while hunting ducks. They can very in shape and size and made from a variety of materials, from natural items found in the hunting area or more elaborate structure made from wood. The duck blinds being fashioned by the students will be made of wood.