The new year started with a hunt on January 2, in South Florida, where I assisted Purple Heart recipient Specialist Jon French, who was injured in Afghanistan when two Taliban fired an rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) into the humvee in which he was the turret gunner. I met Jon in Maryland where he visited a Bass Pro Shop with his wife, Margaret, and friend Derek, who was also injured in the same attack. Both men were recuperating at nearby Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and both were long-time buddies from Michiganâ€™s Upper Peninsula. After getting acquainted with them, I just knew that I had to follow up with some sort of hunt. It all came together in late fall of 2009, and I was able to coordinate the hunt for Jon, but I badly wanted Margaret to come along. She was incredibly supportive of her husband when he was undergoing multiple surgeries, therapy, and rehab at Walter Reed. I figured this was a small way to repay her loyalty and continued support in Jonâ€™s recovery and transition.
The hunt, with outfitter Danny SantAngelo of Okeechobee Outfitters, was eminently successful. Jon took a fallow deer and a nice pig, and Margaret shot a world class black buck and a pig. After the shooting was over, the outfitter invited me to shoot a pig, and without hesitation I gleefully obliged, taking a good boar that is now occupying space in my freezer. (www.okeechobeeoutfitters.com)
If youâ€™re wondering what happened to Derek, not to worry. Weâ€™ve scheduled him and Jon to travel to Alaskaâ€™s Kodiak Island to hunt Sitka blacktail deer, and sea ducks with outfitter Mike Carlson of Larsen Bay Lodge. (www.larsenbaylodge.com) I am so excited with the addition of PrÃ³is XTREME hunting apparel, with features to insure the highest degree of comfort. How do I define comfort? Warmth, followed by Dry! This jacket is insulated with 150gram of Thinsulate, drawstrings at waist, Velcro closures on sleeves and drop down ducktail for sitting and staying dry! I hunt as hard as I can, and I give my clothing a serious beating. Iâ€™m fortunate to have the most durable hunting apparel offered on the market today.
In March, I experienced some outrageously fantastic snow goose hunting at my Dadâ€™s farm on Marylandâ€™s eastern shore. Because of a very wet fall, some of the corn couldnâ€™t be harvested, and it remained standing. Two horrendous snowstorms hit the region in March five days apart. The birds literally had no feed, since the two-feet of snow deposited by each storm had covered most of the crops. But our corn waved merrily in the air, and the geese homed in on it mercilessly. It was incredible. We could hardly beat the birds out of the corn. When it was over, we made fabulous sausage out of several dozen snow goose breasts.
In April, for the fourth year in a row, I hunted turkeys on the Black Hills National Forest in Wyoming and South Dakota. What a thrill. A big tom came to the call, never breaking strut, for at least 15 minutes. Iâ€™ll never forget the sight of that gorgeous bird as it slowly waltzed toward my gun barrel. Sighâ€¦another taxidermy bill.
In May, I attended the NRA convention in Charlotte, NC. Prior to that, I attended SCI Convention in Reno, followed by RMEF Elk Camp in Reno. I enjoy helping out in the PrÃ³is booth when I can and chatting with prospective customers, answering questions about the garments I completely rely upon for every hunting situation.
In June, I assisted with the PVA Outdoor Recreational Heritage Fundâ€™s 4th Annual Bass Fishing Tournament near Warrenton, VA, attended by 15 veterans, most of which are Purple Heart recipients, including some women. It was a successful outing, with many thoughts shared, and many acquaintances made. (www.pvaheritagefund.org)
So whatâ€™s coming up for the rest of the year? Iâ€™m planning at least four hunts with military heroes and wounded veterans. I must say Iâ€™m terribly excited about the elk tag I drew in Colorado. Iâ€™ll be hunting with my dad, brothers, and friends. I am writing whenever possible; currently working on an article about hearing protection and others in the works.
One of my personal interests is sending goodies and care packages to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is so satisfying to gather a bunch of â€œstuffâ€ and send it to our warriors who are in harmâ€™s way. I send fun things that I envision big smiles when opened- jerky, favorite candies, peanuts, etcâ€¦I send things I donâ€™t think our government issues! The most important thing I send– words of encouragement and sincere appreciation for their service to this great country we live in.