U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Fort Worth District partnered with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) to host the 2019 Wheelin’ Youth Hunt for five physically challenged youth hunters on federally-managed property at Lewisville Lake Dec. 6-8.
This is the 7th consecutive year that Lewisville Lake has hosted a special hunt, and the 2nd year to be partnering with NWTF. USACE also partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to monitor the deer population and received special landowner deer tags for the hunters.
“Our main mission is the conservation of the wild turkey preservation of our hunting heritage; we need to preserve our hunting rights and opportunities and continue to get people all kinds of people into the woods to hunt,” said Chris Womack, Vice-President of the North Texas Region of NWTF. “That’s why an event like this is perfect; it gives these youth the chance of lifetime. This is our second year working with the Corps and Texas Parks and Wildlife and it has been phenomenal. Everybody is having a great time and has seen deer; they are really excited and that gets us excited too.”
Fort Worth District Deputy Commander Maj. Roderick Forman is an avid hunter and attended the event to meet with the youth hunters and their families and share his passion for hunting.
"I have been hunting since I was very young and I am now teaching my six-year-old daughter to hunt as well,” Forman said. “I really enjoyed meeting with the youth hunters and their families to hear how excited they are about hunting. This is an outstanding opportunity for Fort Worth District and our Lewisville Lake team to partner with organizations to give these kids the opportunity to do something they may have not had the chance to.”
With lakes and parks that span the entire state of Texas, Fort Worth District is well-placed to provide outreach events such as this.
“This event is one of many we host at recreation facilities among our 25 lakes; it gives us the opportunity to connect and give back to the community in a unique and deeply meaningful way,” Forman continued. “This is an amazing way to spend a weekend during the holiday season."
The hunters had an opportunity over three days to hunt in morning and evening shifts. With an impressive harvest of 11 deer, each of the youth hunters was successful.
According to Lewisville Lake Manager Rob Jordan, events like this provide a method to actively manage the whitetail population and implement wildlife and habitat management techniques that are vital toward maintaining a sustainable resource.
"Hosting this hunt is important for Lewisville Lake and the Corps of Engineers for multiple reasons,” Jordan said. “It has allowed us to develop a partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation that extends far beyond just this hunt. Combining their resources with ours has allowed us to provide a quality outdoor recreational opportunity for some well-deserving individuals, all while helping USACE achieve its recreation and environmental stewardship missions.”
Jordan says this event also holds a deeper meaning for him and something he looks forward to all year.
“The thing I love most about this event is that it allows me an opportunity to provide a unique outdoor experience for some very special young men and women that otherwise don't get the chance to experience hunting and the thrill of being in the outdoors,” he said. “Getting to spend time with these hunters and their families, and hearing their stories always touches my heart. Having the opportunity to get to help them overcome some of the challenges they face and see the smiles on their faces when they have a successful hunt is what really makes it all worthwhile."
Other volunteers include an Eagle Scout who built three wheelchair accessible hunting blinds, Chick-Fil-a, who provided food, and numerous USACE Fort Worth team members who participated to make the event possible. The youth hunt is the only one that takes place in this wildlife management area and provides a unique opportunity for youth hunters.
“This is a very special event for us,” said Dean Castillo, board member on the NWTF State Chapter Board of Directors. “One of our key emphasis is habitat restoration and saving the hunt. This is such a wonderful opportunity to have youth out here that would not normally have any kind of opportunity to be in the outdoors like this. To partner with the Corps of Engineers in hosting an event for them is really special for us.”
The Fort Worth District was established in 1950. The District is responsible for water resources development in two-thirds of Texas, and design and construction at military installations in Texas and parts of Louisiana and New Mexico. Lewisville Lake’s dam was constructed in 1955. There are 187 miles of shoreline, 28 designated public use areas, 16,352 acres above normal pool and 5,747 acres of flowage easement.
Visit the Fort Worth District Web site at: www.swf.usace.army.mil and social media at: https://about.me/usacefortworth