Veterans interested in the challenge of hunting birds recently connected with one another during a Wounded Warrior Project private-land hunt, in addition to shooting clays and learning how to clean their birds.
Successfully flushing pheasants from the fields takes patience, know-how, and it doesn’t hurt to have great dogs and handlers by your side.
“This was an amazing opportunity to hunt using dogs to flush the birds,” said Army veteran Rich Kelby. “Events like this hunt help me stay grounded, get back outside, and just do things when my post-traumatic stress and other injuries make me want to sit inside and be alone. This has inspired me to push some of my buddies to join Wounded Warrior Project and dig out of their holes.”
Isolation is one of the most significant struggles wounded warriors deal with after serving their country. It can be difficult knowing how to overcome that challenge and rekindle bonds similar to those formed in the military. Connecting with fellow service members in the community minimizes isolation and creates a support structure during the healing process.
“I love to pheasant hunt, and I was excited about this hunt since I’d joined a similar event a few years back,” said Army veteran David Spalding. “And, of course, spending time with other vets is always a good thing.”
After the day’s activities, veterans gathered to swap stories about their conquests and the ones that got away. For many warriors, the experiences they had in the military were some of the best of their lives, filled with fellowship, meaning, and direction. Events like this provide opportunities for warriors to feel that camaraderie again in comfortable environments.
“All warriors who attended had different injuries, different stories, and were from different generations — a great bunch,” David said. “But one of the things we have in common is after joining and attending events, we’re hooked.”