Tales from the Timber: Memory lives
The disabled archery hunting program at Eldon Hazlet State Park attracts hunters throughout the deer season.
Archery hunting is allowed Oct. 1-Nov. 11. After Nov. 11 hunting is allowed on Mondays and Tuesdays only until the end of the controlled pheasant hunting program.
To learn more, call (618) 594-3015.
A hunter’s memory lives on at Eldon Hazlet State Park.
Earlier this season, disabled hunter Colt Raterman of Aviston shot an impressive 8-point buck (pictured above) while bowhunting out of a blind that had been donated in the memory of the late Ryan Neal of Troy. The blind is wheelchair accessible and is open to use by disabled bowhunters.
Neal was a devoted deer hunter who was killed in a car accident on Nov. 23, 2008 at the age of 24. Prior to his death, Neal had told his cousin Jason Helldoerfer,
“You know, I’d always wanted to help handicapped kids experience the thrill of hunting.”
In the days and months that followed, a memorial fund was established in Ryan’s name. Eventually donations reached $4,000.
“We tragically lost our son,” Ryan’s father, Mike Neal said. “People donated money and a memorial fund was set up. After talking to Jason, I knew right away that we were going to have to use the money to somehow help children with disabilities.”
After several calls, the Neals got in touch with Gary Tatham, site superintendent at Eldon Hazlet. Tatham had also received a call from Ethan Anderson, 16, of Hoffman in search of an Eagle Scout project.
“It was just the perfect situation,” Tatham said. “This just happened to fit together.”
Anderson oversaw several decisions regarding the blind, which was built by Darkwoods Blinds of Oklahoma and sits on a poured concrete pad. Concrete was donated by Quad County Ready Mix.
Months of hard work and planning paid off on the evening of Nov. 24 when Raterman shot his drop-tine 8-point buck.