Jul 10, 2015

Heroes' Hunt for Wounded Warriors

By: Brian Ball

As I watch the 2nd buck of the evening enter the retired landfill area adjacent to my land and chase does around, I’m thinking it would sure be nice to be able to hunt the City of Waupun’s retired landfills.  But I’ve lived here most of my life and know that it is forbidden. So, I just watch year after year deer, and now turkeys, have free run of 60+ acres.  This got me thinking… “I’ve been a Patriot Guard Rider for about 4 years now and I have seen the worst of what war can do to our servicemen and women.  I wonder if there is an opportunity here for our wounded veterans.”  Fortunately, with today’s advanced medical capabilities on the front line, many soldiers who would have been killed are now surviving their injuries.  However, for many of these veterans, who were once hunters, the opportunity to get back in the woods is now much more difficult. Thus, the formation of organizations such as the Heroes’ Hunt for Wounded Warriors, which helps injured Vets in many ways. 

With that recognition and thought process regarding the retired landfill sites, I approached the City of Waupun’s Director of Public Works, Dick Flynn, a retired Navy Sea Bee, about opening the city’s two retired landfill areas to hunting for combat wounded Vets.  Dick thought it was a great idea and after a couple meetings, it was OK’d.  So I talked with several friends of mine and told them of my plan to build handicap-accessible blinds in the landfill areas and Heroes’ Hunt for Wounded Warriors was born.  We got in touch with the several different Veterans’ organizations and told them of our plan to provide fully guided, free hunts for our deserving injured Vets. They were very excited about it and said they would provide the hunters.

Well, our first season of HHWW hunts is in the books.  The great success we encountered was no doubt because of the great hunting land offered to HHWW.  The City of Waupun, Jake Hoffman of Randolph, Ron & Henri Raith of Waupun, Tom & Bob Reabe of Waupun, Wings Over Wisconsin Waupun Chapter, Rob & Lori Quandt of Fox Lake, Ron Van Hierden of Fox Lake, Vance, Andy & Eli Glewen of Alto are all landowners who’ve given HHWW access to their land for our Vets to hunt on.  Without willing landowners, none of this would be possible.  Next, without our volunteer guides and board members these hunts would not take place, thank you Jeff, Jeff, Louden, Floyd, Jay, Scott, Bill & Dave.

We, as a whole, guided 14 Vets this past fall, took 6 bucks and 13 does, 15 ducks, 4 geese & 2 pheasants.

Our community has really embraced HHWW.  The AmericInn Hotel & Suites gave our Vets free rooms each weekend.  The Goose Shot Bar & Grill gave them free prime rib dinners each Saturday night.  Pizza Ranch and Helen’s Kitchen gave them free meals on Saturday and Sunday.  King Mfg, National Bank of Waupun, American Legion Post 210, VFW Post 6709, & NAPA Auto Parts were all major sponsors of our permanent blinds.  Many other sponsors enabled us to purchase seven pop-up blinds, and we built two permanent and purchased one fiberglass blind. Horny Buck Seed Co. generously donated food plot seed creating food plots that were largely responsible for bringing in the deer the Vets were able to harvest.

On a typical hunt, our Vet and sometimes a guest, would arrive on Saturday at noon.  After introductions to the guide and board member, we get them checked in at the AmericInn Hotel & Suites in Waupun, then either go to eat at Pizza Ranch (free for the Vet/Hunter) or to my house for target practice.  When our hunter is ready and comfortable with the weapon, we take him for a ride around the area, fishing in Rock River, or just talk and tell stories until it’s time to hunt. 

We were extremely blessed to have had such a successful 1st season. More hunts than not resulted in deer taken.  Al & Janet Feucht of Brandon Meats provided free processing for all deer taken, Thank you!  These hunts, as you can see, are all about giving back to the Vet a sense of normalcy.

Currently, we are offering hunts for two hunters per weekend throughout bow season and gun deer season.  We are looking for other land owners with good hunting land and easy access to step forward so we can offer more places to hunt.  Our vision is to see this organization grow into more communities, as others step forward to help our Vets who’ve left their blood on the battlefield for our freedom.  This could be the solution to some communities with overpopulation of deer in urban areas.

Of course, this all costs money.   Our expenses include but are not limited to; building supplies for permanent blinds, portable blinds, licenses for the hunter, food, go-pro cameras, etc. We are looking for donations of cash or products that will ensure these hunts can continue year after year.  Any help you would be willing to provide is much appreciated. For more information, or if you or someone you know is a Vet and would like to hunt with HHWW, call Brian Ball at (920)324-8886 or visit www.HerosHuntforWW.org.

One of our main problems now is some of our hunters are from out-of-state and a non-resident license is $160.  That is extremely costly to HHWW especially for 1.5 day hunt.  We’re trying to get that reduced or eliminated all together, as these Veterans aren’t your ordinary non-residents. These soldiers sacrificed so much for us. It would be nice if we could use the money we have to improve their hunting experience rather than have to pay the steep cost for an out of state license.