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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Barefoot archery on Old Pineville Road has been a favorite of Charlotte hunters going back to 1965.

But sometime between Sunday and Tuesday burglars hit the store hard, stealing thousands of dollars worth of bows and other products.

I stepped in and looked around. I was almost physically sick, said Jessie Smith, who has owned the business since 1995. We've lost over $80,000 worth of product. These bare walls were full of archery equipment, so it s going to be hard.

The bows can be replaced, but the thieves took something much more valuable--an elk mount.

I still have the memories, and I'll always have the memories, said Bowen Smith, the victim s son.

Bowen is in a wheelchair. His life has been a challenge since birth, and he suffers from a rare muscle disorder.

When I found out my elk was gone, I was speechless, said Bowen.

Bowen is not one to let a handicap slow him down. His passion is hunting and two years ago in Kansas he was 10 feet away from an 800-pound Elk.

That's one of the biggest things I ve ever harvested, one of the highlights of my life, he said. That will never happen again to me in a lifetime. I'll never be able to replace that.

The thieves took Bowen s elk mount along with a number of bear and deer mounts. It pains his father to think about it because he taught him how to hunt.

I show people Bowen's elk almost daily, said Jessie Smith.

Bowen thinks professionals were responsible for the break-in, and he doubts he ll get his property back.

I grew up in this store. This is real devastating and I just hope if they are caught, they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, said Bowen.

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