Bagging a 300-pound black bear on your first shot is a pretty serious accomplishment for most hunters. It is even more impressive when you’re only 14 years old and happen to be blind. That’s right, Maegan Weiler, a freshman at West Valley High School, was able to aim and take her own shot despite being visually impaired.
On a recent 3-day hunt on the Quinault Indian Reservation put on by Youth Outdoors Unlimited, Maegan spent 13 patient hours waiting for opportunity to knock. Although it was a long day, her perseverance was rewarded when a black bear appeared, and for the first time in her life she was able to both hold and fire her own shot.
Thanks to Moses Lake-based nonprofit YOU, specialized equipment was provided for the hunt that allowed a guide to see Maegan’s shot path and guide her to an optimum aim without ever touching her rifle. Instead, it was mounted on a tripod with a video camera working in correlation with the scope. From there, the guide directed her left or right and soon the 85-yard shot was made.
Established in 2011 by Cindy Carpenter, Youth Outdoors Unlimited organizes hunting and fishing trips for kids who are disabled or faced with life-threatening illnesses. The goal is to give as many children as possible the chance to not only hunt during a YOU trip, but also to hunt well into their futures. Accommodations such as wheelchair access are present and hunter safety is also taught.
“We try to specialize in adapting situations to accommodate kids with different medical conditions and mostly what we’ve seen with kids with disabilities is that they are able to continue to hunt with what they learn from us,” Carpenter told the Yakima Herald.
The opportunity to go hunting regardless of physical limitations is something all children should get to experience and YOU offered 14 of these trips last year. In order to make this happen, YOU relies on donations of not only a financial nature but also from landowners granting use and volunteer participation. Also accepted are taxidermy services and gear donations that have come from businesses such as Cabela’s.
“I’m glad I got the bear and everything, but even if I hadn’t it would have been an awesome trip,” Maegan Weiler said. “Now I want to help as many disabled kids as I can to get out, too.”
Congrats, Maegan, on your bear harvest and overall awesome experience!