Lucas McCormick killed his first deer at age 8 with a shoestring tied to the trigger of a .243. Lucas couldn’t see the deer, but what he could see was the anticipation and excitement on his parents’ faces when a mature doe walked out into the field.
His dad aimed, held steady, and whispered, “Pull!”
Lucas was born with cerebral palsy into a family of hunters in Home, Pennsylvania. Both his mom and dad grew up hunting, and they were determined to find a way to help him join in on the traditions. His disability would not prevent him from taking part.
The shoestring method was working well enough, but they wanted Lucas to be able to see the deer when he shot. They’d seen the disability set ups you can buy online, but they were terribly expensive. His dad, Dan McCormick, talked to a friend with a 3-D printer and set about making the plans for his son’s new hunting rig. The project took over a year to complete, but finally Lucas would be able to see the deer with a screen when he shot.
Types of Adaptive Outdoor Equipment for Hunters with Disabilities
Lucas and his parents hunt out of an elevated blind, and Dan built Lucas a ramp for his wheelchair to be able to make it up to the shooting house. And because they have a 400 yard or so walk from the truck to the stand, Dan cleared the path so that Lucas’s portable wheelchair wouldn’t have too much trouble making it through the mud and dirt.
And it’s all worth it for his excitement when he gets a deer. His mom, Kayla McCormick, says “He screams bloody murder and is so loud when he shoots. He starts screaming again once he sees the deer! After he shoots you won’t see any other deer for a while because he’s so excited and noisy.”
This year, they really wanted Lucas to get his first buck. One Sunday in late November, his parents got him dressed in orange and bundled up, loaded his portable wheelchair up, and set off to find him a mature buck. Kayla says Lucas likes hunting with her best because she lets him eat noisy snacks, but today it was Lucas and his dad, Dan.
Because they can’t move Lucas’s wheelchair easily or quietly around in the stand, it’s important that the deer comes out through the front window and stands still long enough for the two to work together to shoot. The stars need to align.
And on this Sunday, they did. Dan said that a buck came in on the right side of the stand, right into the window that Lucas could shoot out of. Lucas started giggling because he was so excited. Dan says, “I had to keep hollering at him to stop giggling!” But he went right back to giggling anyway. Finally, at 90 yards, the buck stopped and presented a broadside shot. Lucas was able to see the deer and push the button to make the shot.
After they found the buck, Lucas’s smile said it all—he was ecstatic and proud, just like any other 11-year-old boy would be after his first buck. According to his parents, he probably scared of any deer in the area from his screaming. That night, he requested his favorite meal—venison S.O.S.
And when his mom had a local Pennsylvania Trophy Hunters Facebook page post the pictures of Lucas and his first buck, no one expected his story to blow up as much as it did.
His photos have now been seen over 3 million times, with thousands of likes, comments and shares. Kayla said, “It was really touching to have so many people reach out. He inspired people that were discouraged, and his smile makes people happy.”
He’s gotten several offers from taxidermists to mount his buck for free, and he’s even gotten a few offers from outfitters to come hunt their land. His mom said that he even got offered a 2-week paid bear hunt in Maine, but it is too hard for Dan and Kayla to take off of work and travel during the holidays to make it this year.
Lucas’s dream is to become a YouTuber, so he is thrilled that his story is reaching people. When asked what he wants for Christmas, he said, “A camera and a PS5!” He also made sure to mention his elf on a shelf.
For now, Lucas’s parents are going to keep hunting around Pennsylvania. Dan is working on a similar system for Lucas to shoot deer with a crossbow. They’ll try to punch a tag on a late season archery deer.
When asked whether he wants to shoot more bucks, Lucas enthusiastically says, “Yeah!”
The McCormick family, Dan and Kayla, Lucas and his little brothers Beau and Cash, are a true family of outdoorsmen and women. Mossy Oak is proud to know them and wishes Lucas all the luck in his hunts.