March 12, 2020
By Lynn Burkhead
As the coronavirus crisis deepens across the U.S. and much of the world, the soaring number of positive COVID-19 cases and the rising global fatality rate is causing unprecedented social upheaval and daily life interruptions that seems to be something straight out of a movie script.
And as the news continues to grow increasingly grim, there are more and more signs that those who enjoy bowhunting and the outdoors world will not be immune from the effects of the worsening pandemic.
So far, major postponements and cancellations in the outdoors world have been few in number, but there are some that have been reported and the list is expected to grow — perhaps even quickly.
The archery world suffered one of the outdoor world’s first scheduling casualties on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 when officials in Pennsylvania announced that the NASP statewide student archery tournament had been cancelled.
“A statewide student archery tournament scheduled to be held Friday, March 13 in State College has been canceled in response to the global coronavirus outbreak,” stated a Pennsylvania Game Commission news release.
“Penn State University today (March 10) announced that all non-essential campus events would be canceled through April 6,” the release continued. “The tournament, which is held annually in the University Park campus’ Multi-Sports Facility, was canceled as a result.
“The tournament is coordinated by the Game Commission through the National Archery in the Schools Program. More than 1,000 students were registered to take part. The Game Commission in coming weeks will contact participating schools to explore whether rescheduling the tournament is possible.”
That same day, word came from the state of New Mexico that a big annual fundraiser had been cancelled as well.
“As a result of the Governor's public health directive related to COVID-19, the Governor's Special Hunt Auction and Banquet scheduled for March 14, 2020 has been postponed,” stated a New Mexico Department of Game & Fish news release.
“We will notify all ticket holders when a new date has been set and look forward to seeing all attendees at the rescheduled event. For anyone who purchased tickets or a table and is unable to attend the rescheduled event and is in need of a refund, please contact Gabi Gomez at the Santa Fe Community Foundation at 505-988-9715.”
And on Thursday, March 12, 2020, the first known hunting season cancellation was recorded when officials with the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska announced via a Facebook post the cancellation of their spring turkey hunt due to coronavirus concerns.
“2020 SPRING TURKEY SEASON CANCELLED,” the FB post read. “Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic both of our Spring Turkey Seasons have been cancelled for the safety of our traveling hunters and the Winnebago Community. We will begin issuing refunds and apologize for any inconvenience. Respectfully, John Snowball, Vice-Chairman, Wildlife & Parks Director, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.”
In just the last several days, the number of U.S. coronavirus patients has crossed the 1,000-mark threshold, a growing list of positive cases that has included two NBA players and even Hollywood icon Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita.
As a result of the deepening crisis, a growing number of schools and universities across the U.S. have announced extended spring breaks, a move to online classes or even the outright closing of campuses for the foreseeable future.
While few businesses in the U.S. have suffered complete shutdowns so far as is happening in Italy and elsewhere, many American business owners are suffering declining profits, empty stores, and supply chain interruptions. The economic toll has already been steep as U.S. and worldwide financial markets take a beating due to COVID-19 fears. According to many analysts, there’s currently no end in sight.
As of this writing in mid-March, the sporting world has suffered the most effects with the NBA, NHL, and Major League Soccer suspending play until further notice. The NCAA had wanted to hold its annual basketball tournament without spectators, but eventually decided to pull the plug on March Madness, too.
For now, NASCAR hopes to keep its 2020 race schedule on track, albeit without spectators. But it would surprise no one if the plug gets pulled on stock car racing, too. And Amen Corner and the hallowed Augusta National Golf Course could be in limbo as officials with the Masters golf tournament consider their options — including playing the year’s first major tournament without spectators.
Conference basketball tournaments have been scuttled, colleges have cancelled spring football games and prohibited fans from attending other events, and rumors persist that Major League Baseball will suspend operations before the first pitch is even thrown for the 2020 regular season.
With some health experts stating that it may be two months or more before the U.S. sees its number of positive coronavirus cases peak and begin to fall, there may certainly be other spring turkey and spring bear hunts affected across North America.
And if the crisis persists deep into the summer months, expect to see other hunting seasons potentially at risk of postponement or cancellation for such late summer species as sheep, pronghorn antelope and even early deer.
While it isn’t known yet what the full effects of COVID-19 will be on U.S. outdoorsmen in 2020, there will certainly be an impact, and one that may be more severe than many might have anticipated only a few weeks ago.
From equipment and supply chain interruptions — see a soon to be published Petersen’s Bowhunting news column for more on that — to show postponements or cancellations to even interruptions or actual loss of more hunting seasons, the rest of this year promises to bring a lot more in the way of “Breaking News” stories.
Stay tuned for the latest information and breaking news as it develops and becomes available.