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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Special sportsmen take six deer

  • Every year the Sahara Woods portion of the Saline County Fish and Wildlife area outside Carrier Mills closes part of the property for the United Special Sportsman Alliance deer hunt.
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  • Every year the Sahara Woods portion of the Saline County Fish and Wildlife area outside Carrier Mills closes part of the property for the United Special Sportsman Alliance deer hunt.
    The USSA is a non-profit charity which provides outdoor adventures for critically ill and disabled youths and veterans. For the last 11 years USSA working conjunction with the Illinois Bow Hunters Society, has brought a group of youths and their families to Southern Illinois for a deer hunt. The hunt in Carrier Mills takes about 12 youths each year on a weekend get away, the youths and their families staying at the Camp Oxford Youth Camp in Rudement and hunting at Sahara Woods. Camp Oxford is a youth camp run by Ohio Association General Baptist Church, and has been housing the hunters and their families on these outings since 2008.
    “When we first came here in 2003, the village government found out what we were doing and returned our rental check and have let us use the building free ever since.” said Jim McFarlane, member of the Illinois Bow Hunters Society and the USSA Hunt Coordination Advisory Council. “The level of support we get from area churches, business and citizens is just phenomenal.”
    Dee Rader, with Ohio General Baptist Church feels this is a very beneficial experience for the young people.
    “A lot of them have never experienced a camp or outdoor setting before. It's so nice for them and their families to be able to do that!” Rader said.
    The USSA is an charity that provides a variety of outdoor oriented activities, free of charge, for for handicapped or critically ill youths and veterans. These adventures range from hunting trips, through fishing and water sports to camping and canoeing. Founded by Brigid O'Donoghue, who is the current CEO of the organization, USSA is dedicated to providing relief from the rigors of the hospitals, care facilities and treatments and gives them, “a place of peace to focus on the quality of life, family ties and the wonders of our natural world.”
    USSA pair each hunter and their family with a mentor, who acts as a facilitator for the hunter and their family during the excursion, accompanying the youth during the actual hunt.
    “This could never happen without all the volunteers, churches, businesses and organizations who contribute their efforts to the kids.” McFarlane said adding “Once you help and see how much it means to these young people, you’re hooked. You want to do it every year!”
    This year’s hunt saw 12 youths, eight of whom were from out of state, participating in the adventure and the hunters harvested six deer over the weekend.
    Area churches and civic organizations provide a breakfast, lunch and dinner for the hunters at the Carrier Mills Municipal Building on Friday and Saturday of the hunt. This year, the meals Friday were provided by Thompsonville First Baptist Church, Carrier Mills Fire Department, Little Chapel Church, Dorrisville Baptist Church, Quentin Phelps and Sara Tripp and Bethany General Baptist Church.
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