Province creates application allowing hunters with disabilities to use motorized track chairs

Earlier this week the Saskatchewan government created an online application process which would allow hunters with mobility issues to use motorized track chairs while hunting.

Bobbie Cherepuschak, born with spina bifida, now hopes to see track chairs available for all in Sask.

Bobbie Cherepuschak and Trent Wotherspoon worked together to make it possible for hunters to use motorized track chairs — essentially specialized all-terrain motorized wheelchairs — when hunting. (Submitted by Bobbie Cherepuschak)

Bobbie Cherepuschak has loved hunting for as long as he could remember. 

He grew up eating game meat, watching hunting shows on the television and listening to his dad's coworkers' stories about hunting. 

Cherepuschak was born with spina bifida, which is a neural tube defect that prevents the spine from forming properly. 

As he got older, his hips started to get weaker and he eventually lost his ability to walk. Now he relies on his wheelchair to get around. 

He never lost his love of hunting and he was always able to hunt from his chair. 

Cherepuschak started hunting in 2001; after two years of being skunked, he landed his first deer. This year, for the first time, he's won a moose draw and is eagerly anticipating his fall hunt this year. (Submitted by Bobbie Cherepuschak)

But things got a little bit easier for him earlier this week, as the province created an online application for a special permit which will allow Cherepuschak and others like him to use motorized track chairs that work in all terrain. 

"It was time for something to be said," Cherepuschak said. 

He met NDP MLA for Regina Rosemont Trent Wotherspoon at Cabela's in Regina and got the ball rolling to make the application a reality. 

Wotherspoon said he hopes the online application is an efficient process for hunters with disabilities to utilize the tools they can use to get them out doing what they love. 

Still seeking a chair for all

The motorized track chairs themselves are somewhat of a rarity. 

Cherepuschak said he was able to find two in Saskatchewan, but they're only for personal use rather than hunting. 

He hasn't yet had a chance to try out a motorized track chair for himself but he's excited to see one in person.

"They're pretty cool. They're the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life," he said. 

Cherepuschak said creating the application form was the first step in the process. One challenge that has yet to be overcome is acquiring one, which Cherepuschak said can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, he said, is looking into the possibility of buying a motorized track chair.

He said he'd like to eventually see a chair in each of the Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert areas as a way to make hunting even more accessible to people in Saskatchewan. 

Ideally, he said, there would be one available in the province by the fall when he plans to go on a moose hunt — a good way to test the limits of a motorized track chair.

For those in wheelchairs who may have pondered hunting but were never able to do so before, Cherepuschak encouraged them to dive right in. 

"Don't let anything stop you," he said. "The countryside that you get to see, you can't see that in the city."