The 2nd annual Hunts for Warriors hunt took place at the Hecla Hunting Farms properties in northeastern South Dakota, near the town of Hecla. Owner Bill Mitchell and Lodge manager, Gabrielle Meyer have gone above and beyond in their efforts to show their appreciation for the service the veterans have given. From the conceptualization, planning and implementation, the two have put together one of the finest pheasant hunts anyone could ask for and they have graciously given three wounded veterans a well-deserved four days of relaxation and enjoyment.
Gabrielle has worked on putting the event together for a number of months, starting with the selection of the veterans all the way thru guiding these fine men in the field to seeing them off on the final day. Among being the gentleman who initially discussed the idea of such an event with SCI President, John Whipple, Bill Mitchell is credited with preparing some of the finest steaks to hit the table. Not often does one have the pleasure of a lodge owner preparing one of many fine meals after a long day‚Äôs hunt.
The three veterans selected were Bob Donovan, Brian McGuire and Brian Mancuso from Richmond, VA, Austin, TX and Pittsburgh, PA, respectively. All have served in the Middle East during their duty. The experience began once they arrived at the lodge. After a meet and greet, Gabrielle took the veterans out to shoot a few clay targets and ready them for the days of shooting ahead of them. Upon the conclusion of the shooting, they retired to the extremely comfortable and home-like setting in the lodge. Rather than talk of their duties, the three easily discussed their families, being outdoors, their love of hunting along with the details of many hunts they‚Äôve done over the course of their lives. Of all the hunting they‚Äôve done, upland hunting is one aspect of hunting they had not done much of. Despite spending more time pursuing big game, the three were quick to down birds and amass a goodly share of pheasants during the hunt. They had the use of some very experienced dogs, which is one of the benchmark features of Dakota Hunting Farms. Each day, the veterans had dogs with fresh legs along with an experienced nose or two to flush the pheasants.
Dakota Hunting Farms intends to continue to show their appreciation to veterans with future hunts. However, it requires the help and partnership of SCI Chapters to make this happen. A special thank you goes to the Lake Superior Chapter, Delaware Valley Chapter and the Austin Chapter for stepping up to make this event happen. The three chapters sponsored the travel to the event while Dakota Hunting Farms supplied a true South Dakota pheasant hunt to three of our Nation‚Äôs finest individuals.
If your chapter would like to sponsor a veteran or obtain more information regarding the Hunts for Warrior‚Äôs program, contact Sue Hankner at (520) 620-1220.