The Deer Camp Kids

Daybreak revealed trees and trails to the young hunters, though the woods remained quiet for them. Most could not hear crows cawing or squirrels rustling dry leaves outside camouflage blinds. But silence dimmed no hopes.

The hunters knew that white-tailed deer were on the move somewhere in the late-October woods at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation, and a buck or doe might appear within gun range at any moment.

Timmie Gunn, 13 (in October 2010), watched as sunrise slowly turned dark shapes into tree trunks and a valley outside his blind.

“There’s a trail down there where the deer cross; it’s a good spot,” said Chris Capps, a Missouri Department of Conservation outdoor skills instructor serving as Timmie’s guide and mentor. “We may see some turkeys this morning, too, and maybe even a bobcat.”

Timmie turned to his stepfather, Eric Pettit of St. Peters, who repeated the message to make sure his son understood via lip reading and the cochlear implants that aid his hearing.

“Bobcat,” Timmie repeated. He smiled, raised his binoculars to his eyes and gazed into the woods.

Getting Everyone Outdoors

This special hunt for youths with hearing impairments is a cooperative effort by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Boy Scouts of America and volunteers organized by Scout leaders at H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation near Osceola.

“We’re giving these kids a chance to do something that most of them have never had the chance to do before,” said Craig Jones of Kansas City, a Scout leader and deer camp organizer. “We also do it because they’re just great kids.”

The annual deer camp for hearing-impaired youths began in 2004 and is held in conjunction with the statewide early youth deer-hunting season for hunters ages 6 to 15. It is rooted in the Conservation Department’s commitment to help all people discover and enjoy the outdoors.

The partnership with the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation began when a former conservation agent took a special interest in helping those with hearing challenges. That led to an annual outdoor fun camp in August at the Scout reservation for youths and their families. The camp attendees fish, paddle canoes and target shoot with guns and archery equipment. Volunteers at that event decided if they were going to teach the youths how to shoot, they should also help them learn to hunt.

The 4,200-acre Scout camp borders Truman Lake and has