The North Bend Eagle

 


Caleb Rowse keeps an eye on the pond during a duck and goose hunt last weeek. The blind was built to allow a wheelchair to be rolled up to and opening to allow handicap hunters a shot.

Accessible duck blind opens new doors for hunters

by Nathan Arneal
Published 11/16/22

Caleb Rowse has dabbled in hunting the last seven years, but it’s not easy for him. Sometimes just getting in position to find the game has been difficult.

A group of North Bend men have made things a little easier for him, though. The 17-year old senior from O’Neill High School was born with spina bifida and confined to a wheelchair at a young age.

This weekend he hunted out of a wheelchair-accessible duck blind at McGinn’s Lake west of North Bend.

“My other experiences have been kind of hectic,” Rowse said, “because I’ve had to go over fences and stuff like that, but this has been a lot better because I don’t have to do all that.”

The handicap-accessible duck blind has been a joint project of Jim Lewis, Chris Emanuel and Jeff Bruna that’s been in the works for a decade. A pond was dug. Emanuel built the spacious blind complete with heating units and a kitchenette.

On the back side of the blind a camouflaged panel lifts up to reveal a ramp leading to a door. Inside the blind is another ramp that leads to a landing in front of another panel that can be opened to look out upon a decoy-filled pond, a perfect spot for a wheelchaired hunter to rest his elbows and take aim.

Emanuel, Lewis and Bruna wanted to let their blind be used by handicap hunters, especially youth. Shortly after it was ready to go, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and pushed the plans back a couple of years.

Things cranked up again this season. The men reached out to the Nebraska Game and Park Commission, who sent out an e-mail blast offering a hunting experience at no cost to the hunters.

A family friend of the Rowses brought it to their attention. Caleb has hunted for turkeys and raccoons and other game through an organization called Special Youth Challenge.

A duck hunt sounded like fun. Caleb said he likes any chance to get outside.

 

 

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