Four veterans, each with his own story, were the guests for a hunting and fishing excursion hosted by a group of area sponsors who have found an ideal way to thank combat veterans for their service and their sacrifice.
The men were guests at the Black Canyon Wing and Clay hunt club on Last Chance Road Oct. 2.
Their day and two nights of outdoor hunting, fishing and camaraderie was organized by George Butcher, a county resident and Marine combat veteran, and by the Freedom Hunters organization in conjunction with Wounded Warriors.
James Cathcart, a Marine from Lakewood is experiencing symptoms that he associates with TBI (traumatic brain injury).
Matt Bessler of Colorado Springs, a 21-year Army veteran, has been in combat and under attack from roadside bombs in the Iraq-Afghanistan theater several times, and also has symptoms associated with TBI.
Tim Kenney, Army and National Guard and the owner of Toads Fly Shop in Montrose, tells how he has been "blown up and shot" during his multiple combat tours.
S.Sgt. Rahman Pie, Army, Fort Carson, is still on active duty facing yet another combat tour. The father to two says, "If you aren't broke, they send you" regardless of the number of previous combat tours, he explained.
"I was extremely pleased being able to help pull this event together," Butcher said.
Everything for the hunting veterans was provided —guns, ammo, gear, food, lodging, chukkar and pheasant, and use of the Black Canyon facility with hunting dogs and guides.
"This is just a way for us to say that we appreciate what the men have done, and are doing for us," said Rick Nelson, owner of Black Canyon Wing and Clay.
The three veterans arrived in the area on Monday, Oct. 1, and had their lodging provided by Kenney, who also does guide and outfitter work.
On Tuesday morning they arrived at the hunt club facility where they had the chance to take some practice shots at the clays before venturing into one of the club's nine hunting areas in the Peach Valley outback to try their skills on some winged game.
All the veterans were successful, and despite several missed shots, each one raucously noted by the hunting party members, each took two birds.
On Tuesday afternoon, Kenney took the veterans on a fly fishing excursion and lodged them for a second night.
Black Canyon Wing and Clay is a 730-acre privately owned facility that Nelson opened and is now in its 15th season. The facility has hosted special event hunts for the Boy Scouts, Hospice, and DOW hunter safety groups. This was the facility's inaugural event working with Freedom Hunters for a veteran's event.
The facility has 31 separate fields covered with wheat grass and watered with gated pipe irrigation. The 31 fields provide sporting cover for the pheasant and chukkar that are released prior to hunters taking to the field with dogs to flush, and hopefully hit and retrieve a bird. The quarry stock is housed in enclosures on the grounds and released for each hunt.
Butcher, owner of Carbcomm International, a manufacturer of carbide wear parts, said the event was a total success. In addition to helping organize the event, he provided ammo.
"We had a great time together and it was great to have some in-depth discussions with the veterans regarding their physical and emotional recoveries. All of these troops have had four combat tours in Afghanistan and/or Iraq, too much to expect of anyone."
Other sponsors of the event were Cabela's of Grand Junction which provided hunting attire, and Rib City Grill of Montrose which provided an after-hunt lunch.
Toads Fly Shop in Montrose provided two nights of lodging and a fly fishing trip for the combat veterans.
John Barnes, owner of High Brass Kennels of Delta, provided pointer dogs and guides for the event. High Brass Kennels is a trainer of sporting dogs.
According to the Freedom Hunters website (freedomhunters.org) "Freedom Hunters reflects the outdoor community's appreciation to the troops by taking select active duty and combat veterans on outdoor adventures." The organization in interested in pursuing partnership opportunities with "conservation groups, outfitters, corporations, state agencies and land owners" on outdoor adventure experiences for American combat veterans.blog comments powered by Disqus