Anticipating this fall’s deer season, Greg Quiel and Will Woodside of Big Rack Trophy Club in Littleton, North Carolina, wanted to create hunting opportunities for military service members. Come September, with that goal in mind, Big Rack helped Freedom Alliance lease about 300 acres in Warren County, designated specifically for the troops to hunt.
The response from the hunting community in Littleton was profound. Club members volunteered their time to set up equipment on the land track, post signs, and bait the area. The landowners even donated back to Freedom Alliance when they learned who would be using the land. Former hunters of the property offered to sell their tri-stand feeder and tree stand at a bargain price for the soldiers to use.
In the months preceding deer season, seven troops from around the state signed up for the first hunt in early November. A new charity, the Marine Infantry Veterans Foundation (MIVF), helped us make new contacts with combat vets, two of which accepted the invitation to hunt.
Freedom Alliance purchased tree stands and ground blinds to prepare the new property. And in the meantime, cameras on the acreage captured trophy bucks and a bear with a habit of eating and napping by the feeder.
The hunting band included Air Force veteran Matt, who was given a club membership earlier this year; Karl, a medically retired Marine; two young Marines, Brian and Nick, from the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Lejeune, who were injured during combat in Afghanistan; Chief Warrant Officer Gary and Marine Sergeant Kevin, both of whom survived IED blasts in Afghanistan; and finally “TKO,” the Marine who pulled Kevin from the wreckage of the explosion.
Matt took two does over the weekend, filling his cooler with around 40 pounds of meat. Kevin’s wife placed an order for enough meat to make jerky. With the pressure on, Kevin took a shot at a young buck and fulfilled his wife’s bidding. Although patient, the other troops did not encounter any deer this time around. Brian and Nick said that despite the lack of action, it was nice to be away from Camp Lejeune for a couple of days.
Saturday night we met at Texas Steakhouse in Roanoke Rapids to get a recap of the weekend. The restaurant gave us a generous discount and fine food, and the troops told Greg how much they appreciated the event, especially the laid-back, friendly environment.
Kevin posted on Facebook, “Had a great weekend with some Marines and a hunting club as well as Freedom Alliance … got to meet some new people and made new friends.” Matt’s wife, Bonnie, also noted her thanks on the Freedom Alliance Facebook page for Matt’s hunting trip.
The club officers invited the troops to come back to hunt on the property at any time in the future. Now that these seven are familiar with the land and the clubhouse, we hope to see them take advantage of the invitation and stock their freezers with deer meat this winter.