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Accessible Hunting and Fishing

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Updated December 24, 2012

Accessible Hunting and Fishing

Wheelchair Fisherman

DonCookPhoto @Dreamstime

Hunting and fishing are two great activities that can be enjoyed by people with disabilities. Whether you are an angler or a hunter, there are many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors year round. In the United States, many federal and state-run parks offer opportunities for hunting and fishing, and some of these parks offer accessible areas to make the experience an even more enjoyable one.

Hunting and Fishing Licenses

It is important to know that each state within the United States has their own laws regarding hunting and fishing. To that end, each state requires specific licenses to be carried by sportsmen and women aged 16 and over; those under 16 may get a junior license, depending upon where they reside. Some states make special allowances for the disabled and offer special or reduced cost licenses for these individuals. In addition, some states also make separate allowances for disabled veterans.

While it would be wonderful if there was a way to get a sportsman license that would be valid in all of the states, each state requires the disabled to jump through a variety of hoops to prove that they are indeed totally and permanently disabled. To make it even more frustrating, some states won’t accept a Social Security Disability Income statement as proof of disability, and instead require a letter from a physician stating that an individual is disabled.

To find out what is required in your state to receive a hunting or fishing license for the disabled, visit the USA.gov website here: State and Territorial Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Plan accordingly, as it may take 7-14 days to receive a license through the mail, even if you apply online.

Planning Your Trip

Once you have a hunting or fishing license (or have one on the way), you can plan your getaway. Will you be going on a day trip, or one that extends several days? There are many state parks that allow camping and offer accessible campsites for visitors. In addition, there are many companies that offer sportsman tours, which can make it easier on those who need assistance, but don’t have someone else to go along to help them.

If you decide to stay in a park run by the National Park Service, apply for an Access Pass (also known as America the Beautiful Pass), which can be used in any state in the United States. The Access Pass is available to individuals who are totally and permanently disabled, and the cost is $10. Applicants need to provide a photocopy of their driver’s license or other valid state identification card, as well as a copy of their Social Security Disability Income statement issued by the Social Security Administration. This card will get your personal vehicle, and up to three additional adult occupants in the vehicle, into the park for free. It may also entitle you to reduced campsite, boating and group tour rates in the park. Visit the USGS website to obtain more information and apply for a pass here: Overview of the Access Pass.

To learn about accessible activities, campsites and group tours, contact the national park that you will be visiting directly for more information.

Adaptive Hunting and Fishing Equipment

For those new to hunting and fishing, and who may need special equipment to enjoy the sport, there are many types of adaptive sporting equipment available in the market. Whether you have problems holding a fishing pole or rifle, need equipment that can be attached to a wheelchair, or simply need assistance threading a fish hook, there are devices that can help to make the sport more enjoyable.

The following offer a variety of adaptive sports equipment online:

Local sporting goods stores may also carry what you may need for your outdoor adventure, or they may be able to order adaptive equipment to be delivered to their store, saving you time and shipping costs.

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