Specially managed deer hunt for physically impaired service members, veterans set for October

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Mo. – Ozark National Scenic Riverways will host a specially managed deer hunt in October for active duty military and veterans who live with mobility impairments. 

The Exceptional Warrior Mobility-Impaired managed hunt will take place just five miles south of Van Buren at Big Spring Oct. 22 and 23. A total of 40 hunters will take part in the event, with 10 hunters being selected for each session. Two deer, and only one antlered, will be permitted for each hunter to harvest. 

Big Spring will have an onsite check-in station to provide control and safety for the event. New applicants must provide a qualifying physician’s note that verifies their physical condition and mobility impairment. 

“For me personally, it’s one of the most rewarding things I do in my career, getting to do this,” said Kimberly Houf, National Park Service resource program manager. “We get quite a few volunteers who want to help with it. I think the reason is because once they participate, they too realize the importance of it and the reward that is involved for them personally in some way or another.”

Hunters and volunteers have become “like family” to the event organizers, and often keep in touch during the off-season, Houf says. 

One story that sticks out to Houf from a previous hunt came from a mobility-impaired veteran who told her the Big Spring event was more therapeutic for him than an entire year’s worth of typical therapy sessions. 

“When you hear stuff like that, it really puts it in perspective, that we’re doing a really awesome thing that these guys may (otherwise) not have the opportunity to do,” she said.

The hunt will be well-regulated with 10 designated spots for hunters during each session. Hunters will be provided with hunt blinds, a tripod, two chairs and an assistant. The Foundation for Exceptional Warriors also will help offset hunting and lodging expenses for participants. 

For safety, closure notices will go up at the Big Spring area campground, Big Spring hiking trails and Peavine Road during the event, though the public will still have access to the spring itself. 

Interested parties are encouraged to reach out to Kim Houf at 573-323-4941 or Dena Matteson at 573-323-4814 for more information. The deadline to register for the Exceptional Warrior hunt is Aug. 12. Those looking to apply for the event can do so on the National Park Service’s website

There also will be a specially managed youth hunt two weeks prior to the Exceptional Warrior event. The youth hunt at Big Spring will be hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation and is scheduled for Oct. 8 and 9. Interested participants can apply online through the MDC website. Registration is open from now until July 31, 2022.

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