CLARK, S.D. The P.D.R. Youth Hunt in Clark is helping out those with physical disabilities ages 12-18 participate in one of South Dakota's favorite pastimes.
Dean Rasmussen came up with the idea for a youth disabled hunt about 14 years ago when him and his son took a young man out deer hunting.
"He got a deer and when we saw the joy, we knew we wanted to do something, but it took me a few years to put it together," P.D.R. Youth Hunter creator Rasmussen said.
The idea turned into a true South Dakota hunting experience in 2008 and has been going strong ever since. Staff members want to teach these young kids that with the right apparatuses, they can enjoy the outdoors just like all of their friends do.
It's a weekend dedicated to those who don't normally see the spotlight. Rasmussen often gets asked why he does it because of how much work is put into it. He simply says, "we get paid in smiles."
Hunters participating get their own hat, hoodie, hunting knife and binoculars to make sure they have everything they need to complete a successful deer hunt.
I followed Jaylin Koerner with his dad Robert Stahl on their quest to shoot Koerner's first deer. We spotted three deer in a matter of hours and Koerner was able to shoot at one, but unfortunately didn't make it out with one of his own.
Participants were able to take home their own mementos in place of a deer, like a shell casing. Koerner plans on keeping his forever and showing it off to family and friends.
Many kids, including Koerner, can't wait to see if next year brings them better luck.
"We would definitely do it again if we had the chance, wouldn't we Jay?" Stahl asked his son.
"Yeah," Koerner replied.
Staff members don't know what the future holds, but they hope to reach out to many more disabled hunters in the state. Rasmussen says the amount of support they receive from volunteers helping with the guides as well as the overall operation of the program is tremendous. The shooting supplies, hotels, food, and other financial assets are all taken care of by donors so it's completely free for families that attend.
The hunting experience was created in honor of Rasmussen's grandson Payton Dean Rasmussen, who lost his life to spinal meningitis.
If you want more information on the P.D.R. Youth Hunt, you can visit the website or the Facebook page located to the right of the article.