A contingency of military veterans will arrive in Miami today to take part in the “Great Dear Hunt 2008.”
About 10 hunters who share two things in common - military service and a degree of physical disability - will be packing black powder into by morning and searching for a target on rural Ottawa County land.
The event is a spin-off of the “Great Turkey Hunt 2008” which drew five veterans to northeast Oklahoma for a Turkey Hunt last April.
Like its predecessor, the deer hunt lends attention to the Paralyzed Veterans of American organization as well as the latest PVA Outdoor Recreation Heritage Fund fund-raising campaign, a national effort to encourage 100,000 people to make a $20 donation. If successful, the program would become self-sustaining, according to program director Lew Deal.
Deal, a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Marine Corps, has been involved with the PVA for nearly a decade and said that Miami's turkey hunt event drew an outpouring of community support that compares to nothing he has seen.
More than 60 donors, including federal legislators, area business owners and individuals are contributing to the event, according to Jack Dalrymple who is leading the effort to organize the event..
Some are providing money to help cover the cost of providing food and accommodations for the hunters.
Hotel owners have reduced their charges for the veterans' stay.
In the meantime, volunteers are lining up to help cook, drive, prepare the hunting sites, orchestrate a warm welcome to the visitors.
American flags will line city streets in salute to the veterans, compliments of Mike Slyman and the local American Legion.
U.S. Rep. Dan Boren will join the hunters as they rise early for breakfast Friday and prepare for a morning hunt on what is known as Neosho River bottom land just northwest of Miami.
Boren bagged a bird at the turkey hunt and vowed then that he would be back to share a weekend of hunting with area veterans. Three of the five hunters who participated in April are back for the deer hunt.
The hunters will hunt through Sunday.
While in Miami, they will also tour the Coleman Theatre and visit downtown.