For three years, Colorado Blue Cliff Pheasants has collaborated with Freedom Alliance to donate a pheasant hunt for injured veterans in the Wild West of Colorado. There are many kind people involved to make this a wonderful experience for our service members.
This year, the hunt began in the early morning at the community center in the tiny town of Karval. More than 50 people convened—20 service members and family—and divided into hunting parties of three or four. There seemed to be one volunteer guide for every soldier, and so the event, although well attended, had a more intimate feel to it.
The parties warmed up with a bit of skeet shooting before heading out to the grounds.
There were some physical challenges to work around, such as uneven terrain that is difficult for those with mobility issues to cross.
One vet named Colton has attended Freedom Alliance programs before. This newly married Marine is expecting his first child this summer. To participate in the hunt, he had to wear prosthetics on both legs, which he lost while serving in Afghanistan. Colton needed help with his balance so that he could make his shots.
We saw veterans with other injuries and setbacks, as well. Bradley, recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, brought his son along for their first-ever pheasant hunt. He is an appreciative fellow with whom everybody gets along.
Paul, a newcomer to Freedom Alliance, is fighting cancer at the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Carson. He is fresh from deployment and has a new baby daughter.
We hosted service members with all sorts of stories and experiences, including Ricky, an Army airborne soldier who retired after 26 years. He had seen combat in Desert Storm, Iraq, Panama, and other theaters.
Soldiers like Ricky may suffer from back or neck injuries, chronic migraines, combat stress, insomnia, among other things, and we saw it all that day. The folks helping with the Blue Cliff Pheasants hunt were supportive and considerate of the challenges being faced.
Others stayed behind to prepare a delicious spread of soups, sloppy joes, fruit, and specialty cakes. Lots of stories were shared between vets and volunteers during the meal, and we couldn’t help but think how perfect things had turned out.
Many, many thanks to owner Tom and the others who helped to make the Colorado Blue Cliff Pheasants Hunt possible and so effective. And special gratitude goes to the participants, who tested their abilities and emerged triumphant.