Special hunt shut down by virus

The thrill of a special hunt for some special people won’t be hitting the great outdoors in parts of Garvin County this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many years now a group of mostly youth and some adults, all facing disabling and possibly terminal conditions, have come together in Pauls Valley thanks to the Oklahoma Outdoor Outreach group.

Van Parker of Pauls Valley, one of the founders of the nonprofit outdoor organization, says the risks from the virus, especially for those facing such critical illnesses, are just too great for the hunt to be held in 2020.

“We’ve canceled all activities until next spring,” Parker said to the PV Democrat as the annual hunt is normally held just before the holiday season each year.

“We can’t risk bringing these kids in and their immune systems are already compromised.

“We do not want all the kids and hunters to come in and possibly expose them to any potential threat from the virus.”

It has become a real tradition over the last several years for a number of Outdoor Outreach volunteers to take a dozen or so people, some children in wheelchairs, out on a hunt for animals like deer.

All are chronically and terminally ill who would not otherwise get the chance to take part in an outdoor sporting activity like a hunt.

Normally done in early December each hunt is done on property volunteered by Garvin County residents and even neighboring areas.

The way it typically works is participants arrive on a Friday with some going right out for a hunt the same day. Then on a Saturday all normally join in on the hunt followed by more outdoor action on Sunday before the three-day event wraps up.

Parker says it’s not what this virus-related cancellation means to the volunteers but the hunters who come in for the event.

“It’s not so much what the hunt does for us but for the hunters. We can give them the opportunity to get out for a hunt, maybe get their thoughts on a hunt and not about the conditions they face every day.”

An auction is also a part of the event as all proceeds go to support future events. Even with this year’s hunt being called off the effort to support future hunts will keep on going.

“We’ll still take donations because we’ll still carry on after all this. We will carry on,” he said.

Anyone wanting to find out more can call Parker at 405-207-6989.

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