by Alana Jeter
This past Saturday, October 26, marked the third year of a new tradition for BCFS Health and Human Services-Abilene: the Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt.
It all started with Marshall Davidson from the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), who had the vision to host a special event for foster youth. Marshall had been a hunter since he was a boy and felt that the youth in the foster care system were missing out on this Texas tradition. He developed a way to have them not only hunt, but also learn some important life lessons. When Marshall partnered with BCFS Health and Human Services, the Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt was born.
At the third annual hunt this weekend, eight excited youth from 12 to 17 years of age arrived in Sterling City, Texas, at a ranch hosted by Double Barrel Outfitters. These youth were selected by case workers to take part in the hunt and had passed a hunter safety course the month prior.
The hunt began before dawn on almost 30,000 acres of West Texas ranchland. Volunteers included guides for each youth, the Sterling County Sheriff’s Office, local EMTs, cooks, and DFPS caseworkers. On hand to represent BCFS Health and Human Services were Program Director Will Meiron, who served as a guide, and Regional Director of North Texas Alana Jeter.
The full-day event included fellowship, lunch, and pumpkin carving. The teens were able to leave behind the worries of daily life and simply enjoy being a kid on a ranch for the day, and the youth who participated were able to take home venison for their families.
The Big Country Children’s Benefit Hunt expanded to the Texas Panhandle last year, and the region’s second annual hunt will take place on November 23, the opening weekend of mule deer season.
Read about last year’s hunt in Abilene here.