Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How Do Deer Bust Us?

Now that rifle season is full bore, forgive the pun please...I just couldn't resist,  hunters are at greater distances from their target which relieves some of the stress of getting busted by that Buck you've been looking for ever since July.  However, all too often, the deer break the rules and moves in closer.  For those of us who bow hunt, this is a very normal encounter.  20 to 30 yards is rather typical.  This season I had a fawn walk right by my blind not even 5 yards from me.

So, what is the secret to not having that deer notice you even exist?  QDMA has a great article on the Whitetails full range of vision and what they are capable of.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How To Hunt The Rut

The Rut is either in full swing or is getting close in your area.  With it comes questions, lots and lots of questions.  The biggest question is typically - "How do I hunt the Rut for that giant that I have been seeing on trail cam?"

QDMA is constantly giving great article on their Twitter feed on how to accomplish what seems like a hunting rubics cube.  Check out the article below:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hunting A Cold Front

Welcome to November!  The Rut is just around the corner or about to explode in many locations.  With that also comes one of the biggest variables in Deer Hunting - The Weather.

Knowing how to use cold fronts to your advantage and how they interact with Moon phase is priceless information.  I found a marvelous article from on this very topic.  Enjoy:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No Flame Heat Source for Wheel-chaired Hunters and Anglers

I want to thank all of you for giving me some time off and allowing me to hunt.  I already have one meat doe in the freezer and am looking for another.  I am also chasing after that bruiser with Antlers.

Recently, a follower of Handicapped Outdoors posted on our Facebook page asking if I knew of any ideas for someone trying to stay warm in a deer blind who is using Oxygen all the time?  The mainstay propane heater is out of this equation due to the open flame in close proximity to an oxygen tank.  I gathered some information for a solution and wanted to share it with all of you!

First I want to give a big shout out to Mike Kennedy for asking this question.  My best articles are often from you the readers.  ALWAYS contact me if you have an interesting question or idea!  It's what makes us go.

First of all, there are batteries you can purchase that will allow you to do what I am suggesting without a power wheelchair.  However, there are many of you who are in the same situation as I, which is in a power chair.  This is actually an advantage in this scenario but can be easily overcome by those of you in a manual style chair also.

Power2Go Adapter
First of all, we are sitting directly over two very good power sources.  The batteries on modern power wheelchairs are long lasting and highly dependable.  The typical charge depending on weight and type of terrain can last almost two full days in the early life of these batteries.

There is a company called Broadened Horizons that makes a plugin that enables you to extract energy from the battery and gives you a connector like the cigarette lighter in your car, truck or van.  This is step one.  The Power2Go connector costs about $250.

If this price-tag is simply outside of your comfort zone, some people have added a standard 3-pronged plugin directly from one of the batteries on their chair to power anything calling for 12 volts. This may void the warranty on your chair.  I am not sure anyone wants to do that on a power chair that can run in the upper $20,000 range.

Next you can pick up a simple plugin from Amazon that will convert the electricity from your batteries to usable energy to the electric blanket or heater.

The unit can range depending how much energy you are wanting to use, so be diligent to get the right plugin for your needs.   The unit pictured costs $30.

Through this setup, you can charge a cellphone, power a blanket, a small heater or anything else that runs on a 12v/110 connection.

Be careful not to exceed what your batteries can put out.  I am no electrician, but anytime you try to use more than can be given, it usually trips a breaker or shuts down.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Accessible Ground Blind - Guide Gear Deluxe

For any hunter, one of the most important tools is the base from which you hunt.  Be it a tree stand, ground blind or some mix of those two concepts.  The equation gets even more complicated when you add a wheelchair to it.  Accessibility typically comes with a larger price-tag and in some cases, a much larger price-tag.

So, what does any creative southern person do?  We build stuff out of scrap!  We came up with a pretty good box blind design that I could roll into.  It meets and exceeds all of my needs.  I love it!  So, what is the problem with it?  Well, it weighs in excess of about 750 pounds.  You wouldn't want to say it's a portable blind but it sits in one place real, real good.

Some folks go to even greater expense and mount a box stand on a trailer.  Now this does make it mobile but also adds about $750 to the price tag of the build unless you can find a throw away trailer.

Courtesy of Sportsman's Guide
So what is a person to do?  Get a Guide Gear Deluxe Ground Blind that's what!  We found this thing last January and picked one up.  Until you try stuff out, you just never really know what you are getting.  Great news, it is exactly as advertised!

It's a five hub, pop-up blind making it extremely portable.  The entire front of the blind unzips and flips up for easy accessibility.  It is spacious enough for two men and the windows are the newer style that stretches the full width of the blind in all four directions.  You can control which windows are opened or closed and how wide of a shooting gap you need. The mesh is shoot through but I never do that.  It's just too easy to move the mesh out of the way and have a clean shot.

You can pick it up for around $70 at Sportsman's Guide (price requires a membership) or on Amazon for $80.
I want to thank all of you for continuing to follow Handicapped Outdoors and for sending me sweet notes telling me how this blog has helped you in so many different ways.  Bow season starts October 1st for us and, as you can imagine, we are feverishly getting ready for that.  I will post a few more articles in late October running up to Thanksgiving before shutting down for some quality time with my family over the Holidays.

If you see something you would like for me to write about, please shoot me an email at - Thanks!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Deer 365 - A New Benchmark in Supplements and Attractants

The deer season is fast approaching with the fall equinox in just a couple of weeks.  With the equinox, comes cooler temperatures and the ramp up to the rut.  Bow season begins October 1st here in northwest Louisiana and we have been working feverishly to get ready for it.

"Bug-Eye" Before Deer 365
In the rush to success, we have stumbled onto a new product that has outperformed everything we have ever tried in attracting deer.  What is even better is that it is an attractant that is also loaded with the stuff deer need regardless of the time of year.  So, even I can't mess it up, which is truly a miracle.
It's called Deer 365 and is made just north of us in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.  It is a proprietary blend of many crucial nutritional elements for deer development, antler growth and weight gain throughout the entire year.  After pouring it out at my fall ground blind at the desired distance, we set a Plotwatcher Pro trail cam that takes time lapse pictures throughout the day and the results were mind boggling.

"Bug-Eye" After Deer 3
We literally had deer everyday visiting the site to partake of this stuff.  Three young bucks in a bachelor group made 3 separate trips in one day and remained on the site for as much as 45 minutes in one visit.
The only regret we have had with this product is that we didn't begin using it in March or April!
So, what is in this stuff that makes it so great? Glad you asked.  A breakdown of Deer 365 from their website reveals that is a mix of these elements:
So, on top of all of this incredible information what if I told you that this revolutionary supplement is also Raccoon proof and water resistant?  Raccoons don't like it while the deer absolutely love it.

A storm? No problem, it's weather proof.  Deer love rice-bran but if it gets wet, the game is over.  Not Deer 365, it caps over in rain and either you or the deer simply kicks it back to life.  As you know, Louisiana has been getting a lot of rain.  Our trail cam pics revealed the deer showing up after each rain shower and grubbing in this stuff.

As if all of this wasn't enough, the good people of Deer 365 love Jesus.  Help support them not only in the cause for great quality deer management but also in the cause of Christ!

It's a no-brainer!  Contact Geno Banks or find a dealer near you and see the results for yourself!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Shore-S-EZ - A Solution for the Handicapped Boater

For disabled people, boating can be the Mt. Everest of the outdoor world.  Water and flotation are not the most stable of platforms when attempting to transfer someone in a power chair, manual chair or even someone who just needs assistance.

The solutions are usually very pricey.  Lifts, whether from the dock or the boat, can prove costly and sometimes difficult to operate smoothly.  Most people begin looking at options with adding accessibility to their boat itself.  But again, the dollars needed can overwhelm someone who just wants to get themselves or their loved-one back on the water.

I have some very good news.  Recently, I was contacted by Bob Dishon from EZ Designs.  He manufactures a ramping mechanism that can be added to many pontoon style boats to make them accessible.   The Shore-S-EZ comes in a kit and can be added by your dealer or by any good ole do-it-yourselfer.

I asked Bob where the inspiration came from. He told me that in 2007 his grandson was hurt in an accident at the tender age of 3.  At first, Bob just bought a pontoon boat in 2010 as many of them are already friendly to disabled people in wheelchairs. But as the child has grown into a young man, a new solution was necessary.  As he grew in size, it became more and more difficult to get him on and off the boat.

Bob entered his shop determined to come up with a solution and wow, did he have a stroke of genius.

The Shore-S-EZ is a 32" wide ramp that can extend out to 5 feet.  it can be raised to about 25 degrees or lowered to around 33 degrees of angle (more on this in a minute).  It is powered by an electric motor and all the of the parts are water resistant.  The micro switches that control the ramp are waterproof which is really nice (not salt-water friendly).

The angles this thing can achieve are really amazing particularly the 33 degrees of lowering which will put the ramp below the level of the water's surface.  That's right, now you can help someone slide into the water to ride that cool new pull thingy. And when they're done, lower the ramp again and help them slide back up to deck level.  Pretty neat!

This thing can be great for the able bodied camper or hunter also.  Ever had a good bit of gear that you are trying to lug on and off a boat on some remote camping site or hunting spot?  Not a problem, the ramp makes this rather easy.  Need to load that 500 pound Elk on the bank of a lake or river?  Lower the ramp and give it a tug with a winch...done!

I asked Bob the big question - How much for this glorious piece of freedom?  At the time of this writing, the price point is only $4,750. For an additional $250 you can add a ramp with a toe-kick that will help flatten out the transition from Terra Firma to the boat.

The great news is that Bob is very determined to keep this below the $5,000 thresh-hold.

He also mentioned a couple of things to keep in mind:

1.  Shipping - The ramp kit weighs about 180 lbs.  Shipping will vary based on your location from their shop in Kalispell, Montana.  It takes about 3 weeks to craft your ramp and ship it out.

2.  Limitations - Each ramp is hand crafted and needs to match specific measurements on your pontoon.  The triple pontoon boats that are becoming popular cannot be fitted as the third pontoon is placed precisely in the gap between the two outer pontoons where the ramp needs to be attached.

Check out their Facebook page and as I said before, I think this is a stroke of genius.  Thanks Bob for overcoming the difficulties your grandson faces.  A family that fish's together stays together.  All the best to you and yours champion!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Handicapped Fishing Helper - Bait Cloud

For decades, salt-water fisherman have known the power of the chum block.  You pull up on a fish rich sight, stick the block in the water and within minutes, there is a bevy of ever increasing activity behind the boat.  Using small predator fish parts attracts large predator fish.  It's nature at its best.

With the exception of die hard cat-fisherman, the fresh water angler has long been left out of this natural food chain process of attracting target species to the boat or the bank.  But that is a dilemma of the past.  The Bait Cloud is a fizzing ball of natural attractants.  The early reviews are very promising and I cannot wait to try this out.

You take the type of Bait Cloud Ball that matches your target species.  Throw it in the pond or lake and begin fishing the spot where it hits the bottom.  The fizzing elements causes the fish attracting ingredients to permeate the entire water column from the bottom to the surface.

This product looks promising to help people with disabilities be successful in catching instead of just fishing.  particularly those confined to bank fishing.  Have a number of nice fish come to your area is much more desirable than attempting to chase the fish all over a pond or a lake in a wheelchair.

Check out the video below and give it a try:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Scouting and Deer Sign

Courtesy of
Welcome to the late part of the summer.  I am sure by this point that all of you who hunt are scouting, putting corn out, setting up trail cams and viewing some amazing pics (please email them to us and we will show them on our Facebook page).

Collectively, deer hunters begin to get a little geeked up right about now.  Here in Louisiana, we are less than 50 days away from the start of Bow season.  The excitement level is building and my wife is already starting to get annoyed at how much I am talking about deer...which means I have my priorities right for now LOL!

Courtesy of Apple Creek Ranch
This brings us to a very important aspect of deer hunting which is scouting.  How do you go about doing the necessary scouting without invading the deer's turf so much that you push them out of that area?  How much is too much?  How little is too little?  What is the best deer sign anyway?

We picked up some new property to hunt this year.  It's a mix of hardwood, open fields and high-lines and planted pine.  I can't help but to tell you that we are thrilled with it and am looking forward to opening day.

We began to scout the area by hanging on the oil roads leading into the property.  These well established thoroughfares are excellent ways to get a broad view of your land without spooking the deer.  The deer are familiar with trucks and vehicles moving through on these roads regularly and even humans working in these areas.

Courtesy of
Just off the roads, tracks are plentiful and trails are easily visible running back into the tree lines.

Once we can determine where the deer are cutting across, we try to use the high-lines or brush-hogged travel lanes to do a deeper scouting.  I am not a big proponent of walking into a deer's bedding area or going deeply into a "sanctuary" area.

The goal is to get a good idea of where the deer are and or moving through.  Once that is determined, set out some corn or other attractant with a trail-cam and see if your hunch is accurate.

Courtesy of
So which sign is the most important?  Is it, rubs and scrapes, clearly defined trails with frequent use or skat?  Kyle Estep, the Chairman of our Board at Handicapped Outdoors answers that question like this:

"After scouting for an hour or so, I saw some real good deer sign."

Me: Which was?  Kyle: "Well, it was the deer itself.  I jumped one and it ran away.  Now that is real, real good deer sign."

There is some deep truth to his statement.  In our recent scouting efforts, we have put eyes on 5-6 deer during daylight hours.  You can't beat that scouting report.

Courtesy of
All of the tracks, skat and other sign cannot outweigh visibly seeing the target animal during the targeted daylight hours.  The other pieces are important but I would make an argument that they can be misleading.  Last season, I saw a ton of sign in my favorite hunting area.  It was obvious that they were there.  I even caught a massive 6-point and countless doe on camera during daylight hours.  But I never once laid eyes on a living deer while prepping or during the season.

The season before, we routinely encountered deer or heard them leaving the area as we approached.  We had success the previous season but last year not one shot was fired.

Best of luck to you as you prep.  May your scouting go as well as our is this season!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Additional Weight Means Additional Accuracy

UPDATE 8/13/16 - **This tip is strictly for Crossbows and does not apply to regular bows whether traditional or compound.  The shortness of the crossbow bolt is the driving need for the additional weight.**

Can you believe it?  60 days until the opening of bow season here in Louisiana on October 1st.  I am more excited than a kid in a candy store.  I feel like Ralphie in "The Christmas Story".  Just this past week, I was given a new tip that I wanted to pass along to all of you crossbow hunters out there.

In the world of crossbows as well as regular bows, weight plays a tremendous part in how an arrow flies and with the amount of energy it has when it arrives at the target.  Now logic says that less weight means faster flight in feet per second from the force the string exerts on the arrow.

However, the less the weight also means less accuracy is going to occur during the flight path of the arrow.  I have been shooting 100 grain tips and I am very accurate at short ranges.  If I wander out past about 25-30 yards, suddenly my groups are not so tight.  So much so that I would likely not take a shot past 40 yards on an animal ever.

Rage Crossbow 125 Grain Broadhead
I have been thinking it was the scope or maybe I am jerking the trigger.  Truth is it may be as simple as moving from a 100 grain tip to a 125 grain tip.  That extra weight will slow the arrow down a fraction but it will also stabilize the flight.  On top of that, the added weight will also deliver more of a punch down range as the arrow impacts the target.

Update:  This tip is specifically for bows and crossbows that shoot above 300 feet per second.

I am going to make the switch in the coming weeks and will give you a report in September.  One thing to remember is to also pick up some field points that are also 125 grain so that your practice is an exact match to your actual hunting shots.

Try it out and see if your accuracy goes up out to 40-50 yards with tight groups.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Desire = The X-Factor

"Whether a man thinks he can or cannot - he is exactly right!"  - Henry Ford

How is your outlook?
There is no doubt that your outlook affects your outcome.  The outdoors is a tough wild place that is unforgiving and not easy to overcome. It's tough enough all by itself and then you multiply it with a physical handicap or disability or age and it can seem an impossible challenge.  However, your inner desire to remain out there is about as big as Mt. Everest in determining your success.  This weeks article is a break from the norm by design.  Sometimes we all need to hear the call to bravery, courage, and faith.

Where there is a will...

Is your heart free?
Put simply, I will not accept that my days in the sun are over.  My body may have succumbed to a wheelchair but my heart is still free and so is yours!  If you have begun to believe the lie that your outdoors passion is over, then STOP IT!  Stop it right now.  Get into a mirror and give yourself a big 'ole pep-talk.  One thing I have learned in life is that whatever you set your mind to can be achieved.  It may take some extra time, planning, and determination but it still can be achieved nonetheless.  Your desire to continue, to last, to go beyond what you believe you can do is a major reason for living.  It gives you vitality. It compels you to keep on going and not give up...ever!

Seek the help you need...

In addition to extra time, planning and determination, you are going to likely need help. I have found that people really want to see me continue fishing and hunting and will go to great lengths to aid me in my quest.  People have graciously granted me access to their ponds and land.  Some have invited me to hunt with them and it was a great time on each and every occasion.  Multiple people have aided in fabricating things that assist me in hunting from a wheelchair.  In short, don't be prideful.  Pride is like a dam, it holds stuff up and doesn't allow things to flow naturally.  Although it's never fun to have to admit when you can't do something, it's even less fun to give up an entire area of your life simply because you won't humble yourself and ask for help.  This is stinking thinking.  It hurts nobody else but you.  Let it go!

Share your success...

You may not think of yourself as influential, but you have more influence than you know.  Social media allows everyone to be a writer of sorts.  Post your pics and your stories of adventure, your successes and your failures (more on this in a minute).  What you do matters!  You may be the kick in the seat someone else needs to re-engage in their journey.  Don't be afraid of being an inspiration to others.

Laugh at yourself...

Laugh at yourself, it helps!
Having a physical disability or handicap can be tough, I know.  No, I really know!  But ease up.  Don't slime everyone else around you.  By learning to giggle at your situation, you will cause others to feel at ease and want to be around you.  Case in point, last week I was out with my buddy Kyle.  We were prepping a site for deer season.  My wheelchair got so stuck in very tall grass that it popped the breaker on the chair.  I could've gotten all weird and panicky.  I mean, we were stuck and it was getting pretty dark. But, what good would that have done?  It would have only made Kyle nervous and not be able to get me unstuck.  Just LAUGH!  It's life.  It's not perfect but it sure is fun.  I called my wheelchair tech and with a minor flip of a switch we were back up and running.  We laughed all the way home about that moment and told others for several days afterwards.  Just as easily, I could have lost a hunting partner by being dramatic. Your failures will help endear people to you more than your successes ever could.  In the end, it's your choice of how you handle unforeseen obstacles.

I hope you have been encouraged by this piece.  I hope that in some way these words placed together have kindled a fire inside of you, stirred your heart, reminded you of the hunger you have for adventure.  It's out there.  The real question is: Are you?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Shooting Tips for the Handicapped Hunter

You are in the blind.  The deer you have been watching on trail-cam finally presents himself.  It is the moment of truth.  Adrenaline, butterflies in the gut, maybe a little sweat begins to form on your forehead and upper-lip. Not the time to have to do an algebra equation to figure out bullet drop to the target, right?  It is also not the time to discover that your gun is moving much more than you would like to make a good shot because of all the excitement of finally having the deer in your sights.

This week, I hope to give you some simple tips that can make a huge difference between success and ultimate frustration.  These tips are meant to make the entire process more enjoyable, relaxing and give you much needed confidence when THE MOMENT arrives.

Caldwell Tree-Pod
Tip #1 - Use a shooting rest.  Able bodied hunters use shooting rests.  If they do, trust me, you should too.  I understand that a disabled hunter wants to sometimes challenge themselves to be able to do things as normally as possible despite their personal challenges.  More important however, is to take an animal as humanely as possible.  This requires accuracy.  Accuracy requires a stable base from which to make the shot.  Thus, a shooting rest.

I use the Caldwell Tree-Pod.  It attaches right to my wheelchair with minimal assistants.  It gives me a stable platform to operate the gun or crossbow efficiently and with confidence.  And it also provides flexibility to move a little.  Amazon has great prices, just click the link above and it will take you right to them.

Tip #2 - Confidence.  I cannot over-emphasize confidence.  When the "moment" comes, you have to have this essential ingredient to get the job done.  Every hunter who has taken an animal stretches for words to describe the feelings just before the shot comes and the exhilaration or despair just after the shot has been fired.  All of the prep work, the feeding, the trail-cams and practice have culminated into this one moment.  The juices are flowing!

In the midst of all of these emotions, there is something inside of every successful hunter that centers and calms them so that they can act in all that turmoil.  You hear pro athletes talk about "the zone" where the game slows down and they become laser-focused on the task at hand...confidence.

You watch a pro-golfer sink a 10 foot putt to win the tournament.  They have actually done that a thousand times in their head and in practice so that when the moment comes, they are bigger than the moment...confidence!

Tip #3 - Trust the rise, not the fall.  There is nothing more frustrating than to have the animal of your dreams, be it a deer, a hog, a coyote, fill in the blank, to walk out 50-100 yards beyond what your gun is zeroed in for.  Now you have to guess-timate bullet drop.

Courtesy of

Now I don't know about you, but I would rather know and not guess in these situations.  Most people sight their rifles in at 100 hundred yards here in the south.  But when I ask them, "What yardage are you comfortable at shooting?"  Their answer is typically 200-300 yards.  This creates a conundrum.

A bullet when it is fired rises and then falls back to the yardage you have zeroed in the scope for.  If you are zeroed in at 200 yards, the bullet will rise to it's highest point around 100-125 yards and will only be 1.5-2 inches high of zero at this point.

Once it passes zero (200 yards in our example), the fall off is tremendous and can be very difficult to guess when shooting whether in practice or at a live animal.  Being accurate passed the zero point can prove tough for even experienced able bodied hunters.  In the chart below, notice the drop off from 200 yards which is zero to 300 yards being 7 inches low.  Good luck guessing a 7 inch difference at 300 yards on an animal.  Is it do-able?  Yes, but not very practical.

Courtesy of

Now I am a simple man who likes to keep things as simple as possible.  If it is only a 1-2 inch difference between 100-200 yards in our example, can you live with that bullet placement consistently?  I can!

In other words, set your scope for your maximum comfortable yardage and practice shooting from there back to shorter yardages. I use Hornady ammunition (image above).  They provide bullet flight charts and calculators that are very reliable, even down to 25 yard increments.

Make it a personal rule that anything outside your comfortable longest shot gets a pass.  This will save animals and your ego when you mishit that deer of a lifetime, track it for hours and find it a few days later half eaten by predators.

Ok, so let's recap.  Use a shooting rest that you like.  Be confident, perfect practice makes perfect.  And lastly, sight your rifle in for your longest shot and trust the rise of the bullet out to your zero yardage.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Best Mid-Summer Fishing Rig for Handicapped and Kids

It's hot!  Welcome to summer 2016.  The All-Star baseball game and Wimbledon are in the books and the dog days of summer are upon us.  This is a time of year that can be difficult to get fish to hit.  Fortunately, I have the answer for you in this article.

It's funny how some things can be so old that they become "new" again.  There is nothing better than a great rediscovery of a former trusted tool.  The Wobble Head Worm Rig is just such a discovery.

To look at it you would question whether a fish would run from it rather than aggressively striking it.  But the truth is many a professional fisherman still use this rig and win tournaments in the south during the hottest months of the year.

As the name says, the metal piece at the top causes the entire rig to wobble through the water.  This rhythmic wobble creates aggressive strikes and is endless fun for any lake or pond.

For the disabled fisherman, the retrieve is super simple.  Throw it and reel it..that's it!  Not too fast and not too slow but a nice methodical retrieve can cause vicious hits.  If you are using a medium/fast tipped rod, the fish will virtually set the hook for you, which is nice.

The real trick to the rig is it MUST be rigged with a straight bodied and tailed worm.  The twist or wiggly tail worm will only cause problems and work against you with this rig.  So, since the wobble head rig dates back to the early 70's, there is no better worm to use than the original Creme Worms.

I grew up with these plastic worms.  They were the king of the fishing industry until Mr. Twister put a big dent in their reign with advent of the curled tail worm.

The Chairman of our board at Handicapped Outdoors was using a wobble head rig just a few weeks ago at his home and landed two fish around the 3-4 pound class within an hour or so of fishing with works!

We have a local fishing shop that sells these.  You won't find them in a the super stores for outdoors.  You can order them Here online.

There are even ways to fish it weedless or add a trailer hook to it.  See the diagrams below.
Add a keeper hook

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Handicapped Traveler - Orange Beach, AL

Orange Beach, AL
The vacation at the beach is one of the best family traditions in the good ole U.S. of A.  There are about a bazillion choices to spend a week at the beach and Florida is by far the most popular beach destination in the southern part of America.  White sands, gentle breezes and surf swell that rarely exceeds 4 feet all make for a fantastic get-a-way.  But there is an up and comer that is going to challenge that dominance.

Mr. and Mrs. Brobst
This year the selection process was made much easier by niece.  She has always wanted to get married with sand between her toes. Instead of choosing the crowded sands of Florida, she chose Orange Beach, AL.  Her wedding was held on the beach and the reception was at the very nice State Park pavilion.  It was simple, elegant and magical.

Orange Beach is a much more family oriented place than the party atmosphere of it's neighbor to the east.  There are lots of restaurants and things for the kids to do beyond the shore line.  We took our three year old to a park with rides and go-karts.  He had an absolute blast.

For the shopper in the family there is an enormous Tanger Outlets just up the road in Foley, AL very close to the world famous Lamberts, the home of the thrown roll.  All of the usual touristy type of shopping spots like Alvin Island and SurfStyle are numerous.

What'd ya catch - Red Snapper?
For the outdoorsman, fishing is always available.  I did the big party charter for cheap.  It is straight down fishing for Red Snapper and even though the Captain kept changing spots to get a "different species"...riiight, pull my other leg, it plays Jingle Bells, everyone kept reeling in Red Snapper.  Let me say this, I am not being critical.  Red Snapper were fun and plentiful.  There is nothing like a tight line and you are virtually guaranteed to catch them.

For the hard core fisherman, there are plenty of private charter captains available.

Now to the stuff you want to know about.  How does someone with a disability fair in Orange Beach?

The city and area was very accessible.  I was gladly surprised that every restaurant we visited was accessible and had seating that was convenient for me in a wheelchair.

Perdido Key resort
The hotel accommodations were a bit trickier.  I chose an enormous resort thinking they would be better equipped to handle someone with accessibility needs. The Perdido Key Resort was beautiful. The room was large and could easily accommodate my needs.

The only problem was I had booked via and made double certain that the room would have a roll in shower.  I even stayed on hold while they called the resort to check on this.  But upon arriving, to my dismay, not only was the shower not a roll in, but there were not ANY rooms with a roll in shower on the entire premises.  This struck me very odd as they host business conferences there all the time.  The toilet was a handicapped sized commode, but there was barely enough space to get on and off of it.

Oops, a wheelchair can't go in there!
After speaking with the manager on duty and some concessions being made, we were given a shower seat and made it work.  They were very gracious about the circumstances but until they upgrade there "accessible rooms", we will not return to this property even though it was stunning.

There are plenty of big box Hotel chains on this beach and if you reserve early enough, you will get what you want instead of having to settle for something that is less than ideal.  Okay, enough of this, let's get to the good stuff.

Beach Power Rentals
The winner of the week by far was Beach Power Rentals.  They rent custom electric beach scooters.  They delivered  the chair to the resort so that it was available to us once we signed the paperwork.

I have played around with a lot of beach solutions for the disabled and this by far was the best I have ever been on as far as handling the sand.  The foot stools were a bit too high and were uncomfortable after long stents of sitting in the chair but they are like that for a reason.  This chair was straight up master of the sugar sand.  The Florida/Alabama coast has some of the finest sand in the world.  It has a tendency to bog down beach solutions, but not this one.  I went wherever I wanted to go!

Being a powered chair, you cannot get it wet, which is understandable.  I had so much fun watching my little boy in shore break and searching for shells.  We had a blast.

The price of the chair is super reasonable.  For two days we paid about $140  They charge a $40 delivery/pickup fee that was strange to me at first but as Ben Franklin said, "Time is money."  The guy that delivered the chair walked me through all of the aspects of it and I didn't have to worry with returning it, so the fee seemed well worth it in the end.  No hassles was worth the $40.

Book a trip to Orange Beach.  You are going to love the place!  There was much more to do there than we had time or budget for so, scour the internet and find what you want to do.