Sopchoppy man wins national award for physically challenged hunters


Published: Friday, January 5, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 5, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

A Sopchoppy resident has been named Florida's first winner of a national award for physically challenged hunters.

Jay Leonard, who is paralyzed from the waist down and wheelchair-bound after falling from a treestand in 1990, was named the 2006 Streamlight Challenged Hunter of the Year by the Buckmasters American Deer Foundation.

The award is given each year to an outstanding disabled outdoors person who "has overcome great obstacles in order to participate in the sport of hunting, then applied his or her knowledge and insight to help and inspire others to do the same." The honor has been bestowed to just four hunters across the country since its inception in 2002.

Leonard, a 50-year-old, computer-assisted design draftsman was a "shoo-in" to win this year, according to David Sullivan, director of Buckmasters Disabled Hunter Services.

"We are really proud to recognize Jay for being such an accomplished deer hunter and for what he has done for other disabled hunters. He is so deserving of this award," Sullivan said.

A hunter for 35 years, Leonard beat out 20 nominees for the honor.

Since his hunting accident, Leonard has consistently harvested up to 10 mature bucks a year while hunting on Florida's public lands. He has placed six deer in the state Buck Registry, including the state's second-highest-scoring buck for 2005 (a 10-point that had a net score of 145 Boone and Crockett points). Leonard is the only hunter to have six or more entries in the registry.

Leonard has 24 mounted trophy deer he took while hunting from his custom-modified four-wheel-drive ATV with hydraulic lift that can raise him to up to 10 feet.

Leonard was instrumental in helping expand the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's mobility-impaired person hunts by conducting on-site tours of several properties to identify the tracts that would be suitable for the program.

"I'm really thankful for all my friends, family and supporters who nominated and assisted me in putting together a resume that convinced Buckmasters to select a deer hunter from Florida, of all places," he said. "If it wasn't for these mobility-impaired hunts, there's no way I would've been able to do what I've done. It really proves what kind of great opportunities we do have for hunters in this state — disabled or not."

BASS ASSASSIN NEWS

Big news from a small company located in the hamlet of Mayo.

Bass Assassin, a long-time soft-plastics manufacturer, recently introduced its newest product — the 4-inch Logger Toad that combines the best aspects of a swimming frog and creature bait. Its body style allows it to run as straight as a spinnerbait without twisting your line. It is available in nine colors.

Also, the company has acquired BANG fish attractant spray, a decades-old favorite among Florida bass anglers. BANG's rendering process with live bait produces the natural, concentrated oils of the most prevalent forage species. It comes in 5- and 6-ounce cans with the following scents: Crawfish, Shad, Garlic, Anise, Pure Craw, Walleye and Combo.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top