30th annual one-arm dove hunt encourages amputees

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Sat, September 8, 2001

One Arm Dove Hunt encourages amputees.

Hanaba Munn Noack, Wichita Falls (TX) Record News

OLNEY - Doves were scarce, but upper limb amputees of every feather flocked to Olney Friday for the opening day of the 30th One Arm Dove Hunt.

  From as far away as England and as young as 6, they gathered for a greater purpose than just the hunt. They came to help each other and to be helped.

  As a child, Joyce Baughn lost both her lower arms under the wheels of a train. Long a devotee of the Olney event, she bonded quickly Friday with newcomer 6-year-old Thomas Navarro of Boerne, Texas, who was born with a deformed and shortened right arm.

  "I was less than a year older than he is when I lost my hands," she said. "Thomas is just doing great. His parents are doing fine, and that's the key to it."

  Baughn thought back to her accident.
  "My parents wished it had gone ahead and killed me," she said.

  But they dealt with the problem, and so did she.

  "They loved me and raised me," she said. "It wasn't long until they saw I was going to be just fine. All of these kids have an easy time of it as long as Mommy and Daddy don't make it a big deal. We are what our parents make us."

  Baughn and her husband, Bill, of Jacksonsville, Fla., work through the Internet-based International Child Amputee Network - http://www.amp-info.net/childamp.htm - to help children who are amputees.

  But Navarro seemed to need no encouragement Friday about anything. He adapted quickly to his new peer group and didn't blink in the spotlight.

  "Ask me what my favorite sport is," he said.

  His answer: "Football."

  Question: "And what do you like best about football?"

  Answer: "Touchdowns!"

  Another first-time participant, Sarah Anderson, was taking everything in with almost as much gusto as Navarro and scribbling notes at the same time for a book she is writing.

  "It's my story," she said.

  But besides her own experiences, the book will cover a range of topics from the meaning of handicaps in different cultures to famous one-armed people, phantom limbs and eroticism.

  Anderson lost an arm at age 10 to cancer.

  A resident of London Anderson learned about the Dove Hunt from the Internet - the way many of the new participants heard about the event.

  "We have 10 brand-new ones," said Jack Bishop, one of the event organizers.

  Bishop expected more to arrive today before the event wraps up tonight.

  Most arrive with shotguns in hand. Anderson's excuse for not having a gun was that she couldn't bring it on the plane.

  Both she and Navarro borrowed a .410-gauge shotgun to try their beginners' luck at trap shooting. Both missed, but so did most of the shooters.

  Navarro's excuse was that the gun kicked.

  "That's why I missed," he said.

  It was his first time to shoot a big gun.

  "Except for a BB gun," he said. "I want to try it again."

  Recent amputee James Tolman, 36, a first-timer for both the hunt and trap shooting, showed a good aim by shattering six out of 10 of the moving orange targets. He minimized the achievement.

  "It was just luck," he said.

  Tolman is more concerned about improving the aim of his life than his gun. He traveled from Knoxville, Tenn., to be in Olney for the weekend.

  "I've got to get over this and get on with my life," he said.

  Tolman sat on the tailgate of a pickup in the mid-afternoon heat, thankful for a strong breeze and not worried about whether a cold front would drive more dove in for the next day's hunt. For Tolman - and for his fellow-amputees - the success of the One Arm Dove Hunt doesn't have much to do with how many doves show up for the event. It's the people who show up who matter.

  "This is just like coming back home . . . to our family," Baughn said.

  Regional reporter Hanaba Munn Noack can be reached at (940) 763-7554 or (800) 627-1646, Ext. 554, or with e-mail at hanaba@chipshot.net.
 

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