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Dyersburg resident honored as NWTF Volunteer of the Year

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shane Hall was honored as the National Wild Turkey Federation Volunteer of the Year in early January.
Sometimes in life, one is dealt with circumstances that leave us with a choice. Do we allow those circumstances to defeat us or do we use them for positive things in our life and in the lives of others? Shane Hall was faced with that question when he was confined to a wheelchair limiting what had once been a very active life. However, Hall refused to allow his limited physical mobility to limit his heart and desire to make a difference in the lives of others.

Over the last 13 years Hall has coordinated countless hunting events for individuals with physical disabilities and members of our armed services recovering from combat-sustained injuries. A native of Millsfield, Hall has enjoyed hunting since he was 5 years old. In 1999 Hall was watching a hunting show on television where the host was coordinating disabled hunts in Alabama through an organization called Wheelin' Sportsmen of America Inc. The idea struck a chord with him and when the show displayed a number for folks to call if they were interested in helping, Hall didn't hesitate.

"It really struck me as something that I could do, something with meaning that would justify why the good Lord put me in the shape I was in," said Hall.

Hall was put in contact with the host of the show, who invited him to come to the National Wild Turkey Federation convention that was being held that February. The two met and Hall was asked to take over coordinating disabled hunts in Tennessee.

Shane's wife, Melissa, and their son Brit (not pictured) are huge supporters of Shane's philanthropic efforts. Melissa assists Shane with his calendar, paperwork and is like a mother figure to many of the wounded soldiers and disabled hunting participants.
The first event Hall helped coordinate was in Alabama. The Ultimate Team Up event partnered children with disabilities and celebrities on a hunting experience. Altogether there were between 300 and 400 participants in what would be a terrific learning experience for him - one that has shaped Hall for the last 12 years.

After the Wheelin' Sportsmen was sold to the NWTF in 2001, Hall conducted a couple of events each year in conjunction with the organization. Wheelin' Sportsmen became a third outreach for NTWF, which already had Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship (JAKES) and Women in the Outdoors. Wheelin' Sportsmen is dedicated to providing people with disabilities with the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

The organization was seen as an important outreach for NWTF, so when Hall approached its board of directors four years ago about being the coordinator for the state of Tennessee, the group enthusiastically agreed.

"I enjoyed the events I had put on so much, I felt it was where I needed to be," said Hall.

"Coordinating these events is a lot of hard work," continued Hall. "You see a lot of things that go on in people's lives that humbles you to be a part of. It is amazing to provide these individuals with the opportunities to get back into the outdoors."

Hall has the constant support not only of the NWTF and countless sponsors that make these hunts possible, he also has the support of a loving family: his wife, Melissa, and his 17-year-old son Brit. Melissa tracks Shane's calendar, helps with paperwork, takes photographs and bonds with a lot of the participants on a maternal level while Brit helps in any way he can during the hunting mornings.

"Brit has seen a lot in a short period of time," said Shane. "He loves being involved and wants to help any way he can. You could not ask for a better son."

Shane says his wife has been a big part of his success and a lot of the people they take on hunts keep in contact with her.

"A lot of them treat her like a mom," said Shane of Melissa. "She treats them with a lot of respect and they respond to that."

Wounded soldiers from Fort Campbell, Ky. participate in a duck hunt in November in Dyersburg.
In the last two years Hall has branched out, coordinating events not just for people with disabilities but also for wounded soldiers. Hall coordinated the first event, a turkey hunt in Milan in 2011, with the group Healing Outside of a Hospital (HOOAH!). To date most of the soldiers that have participated in these hunts have been from the Army base at Fort Campbell, Ky. Since that first hunt, Hall has held countless others and is now reaching out to the Marines and other divisions in the armed services.

"It is not about the hunting and the killing, it is about the camaraderie," said Hall. "It is about getting people together in fellowship. Harvesting an animal is just a bonus."

Hall's dedicated service over the last 13 years is beginning to earn him accolades, as he was recently named NWTF's Volunteer of the Year. In addition, Hall was nominated by Field and Stream magazine's Heroes for Conservation honor, a recognition that could earn him a $5,000 grant and a 2013 truck to be used toward his continued efforts with the NWTF. If one would expect Hall to jump for joy at the honor they would be mistaken, and it has nothing to do with his physical limitations.

"I haven't done anything that anyone else wouldn't do," said Hall. "It's humbling to be considered and it's all great, but it doesn't compare to the smiles, fellowship and excitement that I experience on these hunts.

"It is a huge joy," added Hall. "I don't expect anyone to recognize me for that."

Individuals interested in writing letters of recommendation on Shane Hall's behalf to Field and Stream magazine can direct their emails to Kristyn Brady at kristyn.brady@bonniercorp.com.

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