Opportunity gives back to the community

Apr. 12, 2014 @ 03:59 PM

Four months after Kris Mercer harvested an eight-point buck, he was presented with a souvenir of the same deer to put on his wall.
Mercer is an amputee had not gone hunting in 16 years.
But an effort between the Chick-fil-A of Henderson and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Enforcement Division gave disabled, amputated or terminally ill residents of Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties the opportunity. With the help of landowners, a handicap accessible hunt took place on Dec. 21, the Saturday before Christmas.
More than 30 volunteers and four hunters set out before sunrise to the hunting blinds situated on various farms in the Tri-County area.
Once the hunters were inside the blind, they waited hours for prey to come.
Francisco Gomez, of Franklin County, harvested the first deer that day at 9 a.m.
Gomez, who is in a wheelchair, said he had never been hunting or fired a gun until that day.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I hope we get to go back again.”
Garrett Wade, also in a wheelchair, was another participant who agreed he’d do it again.
John Young, an officer with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, said the positive impact on the community was well worth his time and effort to help put the hunt together.
“We didn’t have any grant money for this,” he said. “We were so impressed with the way the community contributed so that these guys could have the chance to do something they rarely get to do.”
Paul Marsalone, one of the community members who donated resources, volunteered his taxidermy services for Mercer’s deer mount.
“It’s all about giving back to the community,” he said. “I’m happy to do it.”
Josh Towne, owner of Chick-fil-A in Henderson, considered the hunt a huge success.
“It was such a great time that we want to do another one next month,” he said. “Hopefully we can get more participants because we should have more time to plan it all out.”

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.