Going on a Veterans hunt was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
This past weekend I spent two days with some of the greatest folks I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
The president of our hunting club, Joe Northrup, invited me to join him and several other volunteers at hunt put on by Outdoors Without Limits (OWL) at the Curtis Bell Farm in Georgia.
I jumped at the opportunity to join them on this hunt as a guide. I did not know what to expect other than I would be helping a disabled veteran that shared our passion for the outdoors.
The hunt was going to last Friday and Saturday. OWL provided the hunting opportunities as well as food and accommodations throughout the weekend, which would be impossible without volunteers or donations.
The turn out
Upon arriving, I was absolutely stunned at the number of people buzzing around, doing various things to prepare. Everything from cooking to helping sight in rifles, these folks were doing it all.
I was introduced to Tim Rowe, who suggested Joe and I team up with retired Master Sargent Michael John Sullivan, or Sully, as he preferred to be called. When I met him, I was blown away to say the least.
Sully is a man among men. He and his wife Tami Sullivan carried themselves with a presence that seems to draw a crowd to them. They're just the kind of folks people want to be around.
After a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs, Sully was ready to hit the woods.
Sully was in his new ride that he had recently purchased from Action Track Chair. He had this thing set up, complete with gun rest to enable a rock solid shooting platform.
The first evening's hunt was great; the farm that we were hunting belonged to a man who had a disabled son, so everything was made to accommodate a person in a powered chair.
Sully passed on some small deer, and at dark we headed back to the cabin that OWL had provided us. The cabin was not what you'd expect from a hunting camp; it was nothing less than luxurious.
The second morning Sully was ready to go before Joe and myself were. We headed back out to a blind overlooking two food plots that Joe and I had set up the evening before. We arrived to our spot just as it was breaking day.
We sat quietly as the woods were coming to life. After a few bleat and grunt calls, we had a deer appear out of the wood line just to our left. Joe was in an elevated box blind about eight feet off the ground, spotting for us. I was sitting outside the blind relaying the information to Sully.
I informed Sully about the deer, but he had already spotted it. He watched as it disappeared behind a thicket. When it came out the other side, Sully was ready.
With a steady hold, he let the .308 do its job. Here is a quick video of the successful hunt.
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Success in more ways than one
We loaded up the deer and headed back to the OWL meeting place at the Curtis Bell Farm to take pictures and have a great BBQ lunch of chopped pork and Brunswick stew. As the hunters and guides came in from the field with stories and deer, we all gathered for photos and fellowship.
One man stayed apart and did the dirty work, so to speak. Eddy Thompson manned the skinning shed, and over the course of the weekend he skinned and quartered 10 deer that were harvested by the hunters over the weekend. That is no small task, and he did it with speed and precision.
On the last night of the hunt, Sully harvested another deer, a 3-point cull buck that the landowner wanted removed from the herd. Not only was Sully a successful shot, but he was able to pitch in on the management side of things as well. A true sportsman, indeed.
The real meaning
I have mainly focused on the hunting aspect of this trip, but I don't want to forget about what is most important.
The men and women of our armed forces did not serve for just one day, the national holiday we call Veterans Day. To put it simply, every day should be Veterans Day. These people put their lives on the line for all of us, and deserve our recognition and respect 365 days out of the year.
If it were not for the folks at Outdoors Without Limits, this hunt would have not been possible. I hope that each of you will visit the website and donate whatever you can to these great folks. I had my life forever changed for the better having been a part of this trip. Without donations these trips would not be possible.
Donate however you can, whether monetarily, through volunteer work, or by any means you can think of. It will change your life for the better, I know it did for me.
I would like to thank Joe Northrup for including me in this. I'll also express my total appreciation for Outdoors Without Limits for the work that they do for all disabled folks, not just the veterans.
Last, I would like to thank Sully and his wife Tami for letting me share this weekend with them. I am truly a better person by getting to share a small piece of their life and memories.
To Master Sargent Michael John Sullivan, thank you deeply for your service to our great country and for giving me the chance to make a few memories with you.
You sir, are a great American.