Hunting with Veterans and Military Wounded Personnel
To honor those who give their lives for our Freedoms has a tradition in SCI Foundation. It is a way to say thank you. Many SCI Chapters sponsor hunting trips for veterans and military wounded personnel.
Jim Hall Hunt for Warriors
By: Randall Bush, Humanitarian Services Chairman
As many members and chapters know, deer numbers in the southeast and Midwest can sky rocket if unchecked by hunting. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) contacted the local Music City Chapter to assist them in a special management of deer in the Fall Creek area near Spencer, Tennessee where deer numbers were negatively impacting the area. They wanted to help manage the area by having a hunt that would be exclusively for veterans. The Music City Chapter was eager to help by supplying volunteers, guides and funding to support this special event and demonstrate their support for our military and veterans. The hunt that Music City Chapter sponsored became know as the Jim Hall Hunt for Warriors, named and dedicated to the long-time caretaker of this area.
This year’s hunt was scheduled for December 2-4, 2020 and sixteen(16) Warriors participated in the hunt. The Veterans were housed in the adjoining barracks. Each Veteran was presented a backpack filled with “goodies” along with an orange vest and a Music City SCI orange cap. Veterans and guides were introduced to one another and the Veterans drew for stands for the following morning. All of this was followed by one of several great meals that were professionally prepared.
The first morning’s hunt started off cold, wet and spitting snow. This did not dampen spirits and the first deer taken was a fantastic 10-point buck scoring 154 3/8”, taken by Austin Monchilov. Austin had not been on a hunt in 7 or 8 years. Meat processors were on hand to prepare the meat for the hunters to take back with them. For some, this was their first-time hunting and many of them harvested their first deer on the hunt.
During the course of the hunt, there were two people who need to be recognized: First, Aaron Tippin, American country music artist and record producer, for interacting with the Veterans who participated in the hunt and his continued involvement in entertaining our troops. In appreciation, he was presented a Mossberg, bolt action rifle in .375 Ruger caliber. Second, Jeff Wellington, combat Veteran with 31 years of service to our country and recipient of the Combat Veteran Award presented to him at the 2019 Veterans Breakfast in Reno. Jeff was awarded a sponsor paid, black bear auction hunt, donated by Bob and Cathy DuHadeway. Jeff is the second recipient of the annual Combat Veteran Award, which is a donated hunt auctioned at the breakfast to pay for travel, meat processing, taxidermy and shipping. The black bear hunt dates conflicted with Jeff’s schedule and he was offered the opportunity to go on the Jim Hall Hunt for Warriors as an alternative.
During the three-day event, Bill & Vicki Swan and I were afforded several opportunities to speak with Jeff at length. Jeff told us of his missions and of the different aircraft that he flew during this time. I could go on for hours about the military experiences that Jeff described, but I will save that detail for another article. The one thing about the hunt that sticks out most in my mindis how much Jeff enjoyed the camaraderie shared by all the Veterans who participated in this event. It was almost as if it were a support group where each of them shared their experiences and how they have dealt with obstacles that they have had to overcome.
Feedback from HOOAH after these people have returned from these hunts reinforces our thoughts that we are making a difference in the lives of those who have given so much of themselves to protect our freedom and the American way of life. Some said that it was one of the best experiences of their life. For one person, it was a life changing event that he will never forget.
For those of us who were there to help make the event a success, it is one of the more rewarding things that we do.
Since 2000, the SCI Foundation has provided more than $80 million to promote science-based conservation through wildlife research, capacity building in governments, youth and teacher education, and humanitarian programs that show the importance of the hunting community in society around the world. Growth of SCI Foundation has continued to gain momentum through charitable donations from SCI members and direct grants from local chapters and the SCI organization. Throughout the world, SCI’s approximately 50,000 members and 190 chapters contribute time, talent, and financial support to local, national, and international projects.