A pheasant hunt was held at Tanglewood Ranch and Hunt Club, south of Mineral Point, for seven wounded veterans on March 23–24.
The event was planned by the Southwest Pheasants Forever Organization with The Wounded Warrior Project and was completely free to the warriors participating.
Donations from local businesses, groups and individuals as well as 20 volunteers helped cover much of the cost for the event.
Southwest Pheasants Forever provided volunteers for the event who served as hunting guides and also provided the birds for the hunt, while Tanglewood Ranch donated the use of their facilities and vehicles.
Among the seven warriors that participated in the hunt were some who did up to three tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and/or Operation Enduring Freedom.
The warriors arrived at Tanglewood Saturday morning between 9:30–11:30 a.m., got settled in and then went trap shooting for about an hour.
After trap shooting they embarked on the first pheasant hunt, which lasted approximately two hours.
The hunters then enjoyed a large steak supper at the lodge to end the first day of the trip.
After a big breakfast Sunday morning another pheasant hunt was on the agenda, with everyone departing around noon.
During the two hunts over 30 birds were shot. Volunteers cleaned the birds and then sent them home with the warriors.
Belmont’s Mark Johnston, who initially came up with the idea and help with the organization of the event, said that he has friends in South Dakota that host a hunt for Make a Wish Foundation that he has helped with in the past.
He said this is where he first got the idea for this event, and first started thinking about setting something up last July.
Johnston posed the idea to Dan Schaefer, who then brought it up to Southwest Pheasants Forever and it took off from there.
Originally the event was planned for nine warriors but then increased to 12 with two put on a waiting list. According to Abbie Schmit, Wounded Warrior Project coordinator, interest in the event was very high as the list filled up within two weeks.
Only seven warriors participated in the event as five warriors who had originally signed up ended up cancelling.
The warriors participating in the hunt were selected by the Wounded Warrior Project.
Schmit explained that an email was sent out to warriors within a 90-mile radius of the Belmont area and those who responded first were given the opportunity to participate in the hunt.
Johnston described the event as a “fantastic experience.” Of meeting the warriors that participated in the event he said, “I know they touched every one of us in one way or another. They are warriors in every sense of the word and they have our respect and gratitude.”
The warriors that participated in the hunt were also extremely appreciative.
“I think every volunteer got thanked five times by every warrior. I was even asked by one how he could pay us back,” said Johnston, who answered the warrior with “you already have many times over.”
Johnston said that hopefully they will be able to get another event like this in the works for the future. Anyone interested in finding out more information or helping with another Wounded Warrior Project event can contact Mark Johnston at 608-762-6179.
The Wounded Warrior Project first began in 2001 when service members who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were in need of assistance and comfort items. Since then it has grown into a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they transition back to civilian life.
The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project is “to honor and empower wounded warriors,” while their vision is “to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.”
The organization hopes to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured service members aid and assist each other and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.
The Pheasants Forever organization was formed in 1982 by avid pheasant hunters and conservationists who were fed up with wildlife habitat losses taking place. Since then, the organization has grown steadily and expanded its wildlife habitat conservation mission across much of the United States and parts of Canada.
Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.