Blindness doesn't stop teen hunter

Danielle Shives drops her first buck

Danielle Shives drops her first buck

January 21, 2003|by ASHLEY GORDON

When 15-year-old Danielle Shives shot a five-point buck last November it was a feat, not because of her age but because she couldn't see her target.

Danielle is blind.

Danielle survived a brain tumor at the age of 2 but as a result of the tumor, she lost her sight.

She and her family, father, Bruce "Andy" Shives, mother, Sherry Shives, and brother Ethan Shives, 13, live in Big Pool. A sophomore at Clear Spring High School, Danielle is a straight "A" student.


The whole family does things together, including playing baseball and basketball. When Danielle plays baseball, her father pitches and tells her when to swing, but she doesn't play outfield.

Danielle plays basketball with the help of a motion-sensitive beeper on the basket in the family's yard.

So when Danielle's father and brother hunted, she wanted to take part in that activity as well.

"When she gets something into her head, she'll do it," said Bruce Shives, who said he has hunted for 30 years.

The whole family enrolled in a hunting safety class two years ago.

Steve Palmer, who works at the Outdoor Sports Program Inc., said that the hunting school provides many youth programs. He said he remembers the family requesting two years ago that their daughter go through the hunting safety program. The school slightly modified the class for her, but she had to read the standard hunting manual.

Danielle reads with the help of a Braille translator, a computer that scans reading material, and then translates it into Braille.

When she took the test, Palmer said "She aced it."

Palmer's gunsmithing company, Appalachian Mountain Products, made and donated a rifle with an offset sight for Danielle. The special rifle allows her father to spot the target through the sight, then give spoken directions to Danielle, who fires.

"She's quite a young girl," said Palmer who said he was impressed with her spunky attitude and her courage.

Ethan Shives has been hunting with his father about 10 times and shot a "spike" the last time he went out. A spike is a buck that is about a year old with horns that haven't yet turned into branched antlers.

It took Danielle two years to shoot a deer even though she had opportunities.

"She just wouldn't shoot a doe," said her father.

Danielle said that a doe wasn't good enough. She said she wanted a buck to out-do her brother and because she likes the antlers.

When she bagged the buck, Danielle said she was so excited that she cheered.

She said she'll continue to go hunting with her father, but she's not as motivated now that she has achieved her goal.

After high school, she hopes to go to college. She has considered becoming a kindergarten teacher. Her favorite subject is English, so she also is thinking about pursuing a career in journalism, if her dreams of being a professional wrestler don't come true.

She enjoys listening to all kinds of music and reading mystery books. Her favorites are Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, which are sent to her by a company that produces books in Braille.

Several local companies have also donated things to Danielle. In addition to the rifle that Palmer gave her, Dick's Sporting Goods donated a hunting outfit and Fairview Wildlife Studio, a taxidermy shop in Hagerstown, has offered to mount the buck's head for free.

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