Saturday, October 19, 2013

Blind hunter Dennis Opoka shoots first deer

Royal Oak resident Dennis Opoka, blind since birth, shot his first deer this fall during the Youth and Disabled hunt.
Opoka uses a sighted guide to help him get on target. His friend, Charles Fickeau, Jr. provides the "eyes" for Opoka. He does this by applying light pressure to Opoka's shoulder.
When he's right on target, the pressure increases a little. Opoka has been hunting at Christ's Outreach in Kentucky, a camp for blind hunters and at the property of Chuck VanderWall's in Fountain, Michigan.
What's amazing about this story is proving that disabled hunters want very much to continue their hunting pursuits despite a disability.
That instead of sitting down and saying to themselves that's it, my life is over, many try to figure out ways to continue in their individual pursuits using some sort of modification.
Whether it's a way to get into the woods, onto a board or disabled fishing pier or figuring out how to shoot a bow with one arm, disabled are some of the most dedicated, devoted and die-hard people when it comes to adapting to lifestyle changes.
Congratulations to Dennis Opoka for pursuing his dream, Charles Fickeau for helping to see that the dream is realized and the VanderWall family for having the instinct to see a need and be able to provide the chance.
And that is exactly what disabled hunters are after, just the chance or opportunity to participate, to be one of the gang, and to share experiences and traditions made in the outdoors.
You can read more about Opoka and his deer hunting experience in my column this Sunday in The Oakland Press.

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