Steve West, from the Outdoor Channel’s series Steve’s Outdoor Adventures, invited Freedom Alliance to host two wounded Marines for an elk hunt on his property in Oregon. Since there was a chance that this event would be recorded for the show, we selected two Marines with very different injuries.
Larry, of the 3rd Marine Regiment in Ohio, lost two legs and several fingers in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan. Zack from Georgia suffers from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder since serving two combat deployments. Having never met before, these two hit it off immediately as they traveled together toward La Grande, Oregon.
There they met Steve at his office, who explained that his homeland was currently crowded with elk herds. Freedom Alliance purchased hunting licenses for the troops, and Steve donated his antlerless elk landowner tags, which meant Larry and Zack could shoot either a female cow elk or an antlerless male bull elk.
Steve’s cameraman, Ian of Demolition Studios, escorted Zack and Larry to Steve’s family lodge, “Ponderosa,” located on over 5,000 acres of managed land. Steve’s father, Bob, a Vietnam War veteran, met the men at the cabin, where they would be bunking.
After settling in, Steve took the guys to a clearing from where they heard for the first time the haunting bugle song of the male elk. The timeliness of this hunt was unmatched, as it was the peak of mating season for elk. The males could be heard competing for dominance in the herds, the clacking of antlers and the bellowing of their mating call.
Zack and Larry split up the following morning, tracking the elk through differing sections of the property before sunrise with separate guides. They saw countless elk that day, and Zack took a young antlerless male.
Larry took off again the next morning, and not half and hour later, everyone back at the lodge got word that Larry had killed an enormous cow elk down the road. He was even able to retrieve his bullet from the body, where it had struck a rib and burst into a perfect petal shape.
With the hunting and other dirty work finished, Zack and Larry relaxed for the rest of their time in Oregon—lounging in the lodge, watching football, trekking through the woods, and even chopping firewood.
Steve took the troops’ downed elk to the local meat processor, Mr. Bob Moxley. Mr. Moxley lost a leg during the Battle of Khe Sahn, one of the longest and most destructive battles during the Vietnam conflict. He will be shipping the elk meat to Larry’s and Zack’s homes, so they can freeze it for the winter.
On the fifth day of the adventure, Steve was headed to a moose hunt in Utah, and Zack and Larry were bound for home. They took a group photo and said good-bye, as a rainbow over La Grande seemed to say that this hunt and fellowship of like minds was a favored one.