January 4, 2012
The Fluvanna County Sheriff's Department says the deer population at Pleasant Grove Park is out of control and becoming dangerous for drivers on nearby Route 53.
"The overpopulation of the deer attributes to the increase in automobile accidents," said Chief Deputy Eric Hess.
The Sheriff's Department called on the Wheelin' Sportsmen to take care of the problem. The group is affiliated with the Wild Turkey Federation. With nearly 350 members, it's the largest wheelchair sportsmen program in the country. On Friday, seven Wheelin' Sportsmen members and about a dozen volunteers took part in the organized hunt at Pleasant Grove Park.
"It gives people the opportunity to get out and hunt new pieces of property, but it also gives them the support network they need to hunt," said Robin Clark, the president of the Wheelin' Sportsmen. "Whether it's assistance to get to and from the blind, or if they shoot a deer and need assistance recovering and processing the deer, we do all that."
Jackie Via is one of the newest members to the Wheelin' Sportsmen, joining earlier this year. She showed up before dawn at Pleasant Grove Park to take part in the organized hunt.
"I was nervous because the season ends in two days and I hadn't killed a deer so I was anxious," she said.
The only females in the group, Via and her guide Emily Beasley, were the first sportsmen to find their mark, shortly after sun up.
"There was really no question when we set out this morning that we would draw first blood," Beasley said laughing. "It's exciting, it makes it a little sweeter that the girls scored first today."
Along with deer population control, this organized hunt was also about camaraderie.
"A lot of these guys have never met one another, some are old friends," said Clark. "It's just the camaraderie of the event...It's a whole lot more than a hunt."
Pleasant Grove Park will re-open to the public on Saturday.