A brilliant blue sky, wide-open prairie, and a very slight wind made for an ideal day at Colorado Blue Cliff Pheasants hunting preserve. Owners Tom and Brenda generously asked Freedom Alliance if they could donate a hunt for seven injured troops from Fort Carson.
Craig, one of those invited, was so eager to come, he arrived an hour early, which wasn’t a problem, since Tom and Brenda were up at five that morning taking care of the 400 birds left after the hunting season began in October.
Tom, who served four years in the Navy and who worked as a contractor with his wife in Afghanistan, agreed with Brenda that they have a special heart for our nation’s military. He and two guides, Scott and Jud, led the troops to the skeet range for an hour of practice shooting clays. Tom even lent out his own shotguns.
Amy, a local patriot, heard about the hunt and wanted to volunteer, so she came along with her bird dog. Amy’s and Scott’s dogs found the pheasants in the brush, flushed them out, and then retrieved the felled fowl to the hunters.
Eighty pheasants were set loose that day, and our soldiers brought down half of those.
Craig ended up with nine birds and kept one to mount. Injured in a blast in 2003, Craig only had hip surgery a month ago to repair muscle that had torn away from the bone. He waited as long as he could to do the surgery because he couldn’t bear to leave his fellow soldiers. Craig has deployed five times, and even still, he plans to go again with his unit in October.
Jeff was another of our hunters, and he downed five pheasants. Jeff’s will board out (which means he will be discharged from the service on medical grounds), after which he wants to pursue a degree. His injuries are numerous, adding up after multiple deployments. His knees give him trouble, as well as his back, and he suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Shawn, a National Guard soldier and helicopter pilot from Utah, was involved in an explosion in Afghanistan last fall. Due to breaks and injuries to his lower extremities, he will be using a cane for the rest of his life. Shawn hopes to be able to go home soon after years of deployment and subsequent recovery.
He helps with an organization called Healing Waters, which teaches injured service members how to make their own fishing flies. Brenda taught the gang how to clean the pheasants, and the troops saved their feathers for Shawn to use.
The other soldiers who hunted that day had sustained various combat wounds, including back injuries, PTSD, and TBIs. Scott was one service member who suffers from severe PTSD, and being involved in a hunt such as this was huge. He was so brave to be open enough to participate and after a couple of hours he was an old hand at it.
By the afternoon’s end, Tom had invited the whole crew back for a coyote hunt in the near future. It was a grand day for our rehabilitating troops—not so much for pheasants.
Wholehearted thanks from Freedom Alliance to Tom and Brenda of Colorado Blue Cliff Pheasants in Karval, Colorado, and their friends who helped with the hunt. And a special thank you to the dauntless heroes from Fort Carson who participated.