Jacob Coley began hunting when he was 5 years old. Growing up with a grandpa, father, and older brothers who all hunt, it was only natural that he too would love being out in the woods. However, hunting didn’t come easy for this outdoorsman.
Jacob was born premature, causing brain bleeds which led him to develop Cerebral Palsy. He is confined to a wheelchair with limited movement of his right hand and no use of his legs. In order to hunt, his family would set up popup blinds on their property and when a deer came along they would help him pull the trigger.
But three years ago, the game of hunting completely changed for Jacob when he got involved with Back in the Woods Again.
Back in the Woods Again is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides sportsmen and women with disabilities a chance to get in the woods and hunt. The organization was founded by Tommy Estridge and World Champion bull rider Jerome Davis, who became paralyzed after being thrown from a bull in 1998.
Each year, Estridge and Davis host an annual hunt for disabled hunters in Bear Creek, NC. They partner with private land owners, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and countless volunteers to create an unforgettable experience for disabled hunters from all across the state. Each hunter is accompanied by a volunteer or landowner who acts as a hunting guide, provides transportation to and from the site, and prepares hunting blinds.
This year, 82 hunters attended the event and harvested 70 deer. But Back in the Woods isn’t only about the hunt. With tremendous support from the community and sponsors, the organization had been able to provide their hunters with adaptive equipment, scholarships, donations, and much more.
“The accommodations that are made for handicap and disabled hunters is impeccable," says Theresa Coley, Jacobs mother. "Jacob got to use a machine this year that attached to the gun. It had a screen and joystick to move the cross hairs which allowed him to actually pull the trigger without his dad’s help. Using this machine gave him a greater sense of accomplishment."
"Back in The Woods is a heart warming and gratifying experience to not only attend and be a part of, but to donate to as well,” continues Theresa. "They allow people like my son to experience a 'real hunt’ and they try to make it most adaptable for every persons situation and disability. Jacob has already started talking about next year’s hunt and is so looking forward to getting that 'big buck’!"
Thanks to organizations like Back in the Woods Again, everyhunter can continue enjoying the outdoors and carrying on one of our country’s greatest traditions.
Want to learn more about Back in the Woods Again? Check out this video from their 2014 hunt: