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Oregon program takes disabled youths afield

By Jason Haley
07/06/14 -- It began decades ago with a prayer and a broken-winged raven, struggling to move across the beach in the Cook Inlet of Alaska. As former pastor, Ken Coreson watched this scene play out: seagulls began to torment the exhausted bird, knocking it off its feet repeatedly and pecking viciously. The situation appeared hopeless.

Suddenly hope came in the form of two other ravens that landed near the distressed fellow, fending off the gulls and shepherding him to the safety of a nearby pile of driftwood. The three ravens walked into the fortress in tight formation. Two emerged and flew off.

“Since that time, whenever I meet a disabled person, young or old, I’m reminded of the raven with the broken wing,” Coreson said. He began taking disabled kids hunting in 1971, and is now President of “Creating Memories for Disabled Children,” a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Enterprise, Oregon. The program provides free turkey, deer, elk, and ground squirrel hunts to physically disabled youth. The experiences are life-changing for many.

Travis jensen, with deer he shot.
Travis Jensen, a future English teacher, has overcome tremendous difficulty to be a successful hunter two years in a row. Photos courtesy of Creating Memories

Just ask Travis Jensen. Travis has cerebral palsy and uses a walker, but has taken two elk with the assistance of his Creating Memories guides. He credits the program for much and has also experienced the joy of watching his sister Ashley, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy herself, hunt turkeys and deer. She’s also caught numerous fish from a wheelchair-friendly pontoon boat the program operates on Wallowa Lake. She even won “Athlete of the Week” honors in the local paper for catching an 18-inch Rainbow and was said to be so excited her screams could be heard across the lake.

Enoch Stalcup, Creating memories
Enoch Stalcub has become a proficient hunter despite his disability.

Enoch Stalcub is another disabled youngster who can’t say enough about the program. He was lucky to have a family that was active outdoors and took great pains to get him involved at the age of 12. Enoch has now bagged numerous big game animals, birds, and predators. He claims to have only missed one big game animal, and I believe him. This guy’s a hunter! His knowledge of firearms and ballistics is as obvious as his enthusiasm, which is contagious. He spends time giving back now, marketing the program, and developing the website.

Enoch Stalcub with rifle over right shoulder and horned kill in the truck bed.

Stalcub noted his unique bull is like him. His trophy is going on the wall.

“Most aren’t as lucky as I was,” said Stalcub. “Not because they don’t have a supportive family, but because their loved ones don’t have the knowledge, means or experience to make it happen. It’s expensive to raise a child that has a disability. Growing up, I had the privilege of interacting with hundreds of other disabled people and realized there is a high demand and very little supply for a way to enjoy the outdoors for those confined to a wheelchair.”

19 year old Travis Jensen with white tailed deer he shot
19-year old Travis Jensen, a major at the University of Oregon also has a whitetail deer to his credit.

The therapeutic value and important role of Creating Memories cannot be overstated. Shriners Hospitals for Children in Portland has endorsed the program for its unique ability to provide connections to nature and the outdoors, which is essential to childhood development. According to Program Director, Carly Schmidt, “For so many families, accessibility and affordability are the two main barriers to participate in recreation, and Creating Memories eliminates both.” Now consider the Census Bureau estimate of 36,506 disabled children in Oregon between the ages of 5 and 17.

Ashley Jensen in wheel chair in front of blind used when she hunts.
Ashley Jensen is a turkey and deer hunter. Note the blind she uses in the background

Coreson says lodging has been the only “bottleneck” to providing these free hunts. As such, the program is trying to renovate six cabins and a lodge on 97 acres at Wallowa Lake to provide free lodging to hunters and their caregivers. They also have a goal of creating an accessible trail to Wallowa Falls and are working with the Boy Scouts, Nez Perce Tribe and others to further program goals and satisfy needs.

These are costly propositions that require financial support, so if you’ve been fortunate to experience hunting adventures without barriers, please consider making a tax-deductible donation. The bodies of most of these kids will never be restored, but their spirits can be, and that’s a large part of the hunting experience. No matter what your experience level or physical ability, the feelings you experience are much the same and can be shared.

That’s why I got excited hearing Enoch tell about practicing to become a proficient marksmen and the elk he took at long range last year with his .270 and custom bullet. “Creating Memories changes the lives of people for the better without asking for anything in return,” he said. “I consider the people behind Creating Memories to be super heroes.”

For more information contact Ken Coreson at 541-426-6538 or at or visit

This article appeared in the May/June issue of the Oregon Hunter and is posted here with their permission. Please consider helping Creating Memories in any way you can.

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