By Michael Ritchie
Roscommon’s Danny Holbrook and an Upper Peninsula Veteran Ryan Hulce may have fought in different wars but were honored with nine other U.S. disabled veterans at the annual Hunting with Heroes program.
The Hunting with Heroes program of Wyoming was co-founded by veterans Colton Sasser and Dan Currah. Currah shared, “We are losing our Vietnam veterans left and right due to the consequences of Agent Orange. When we came home from Nam, we did not receive a hero’s welcome. Our organization seeks to make up for that.”
The state of Wyoming makes available donated tags to organizations like “Hunting with Heroes.” The program provides a guide, lodging, food, and gifts from sponsors. This opportunity also has meat processors that donate their services to our nation’s finest. “All they have to do is get here and we take care of everything once they arrive.” says Currah.
Michael Ritchie is the Outdoor Ministries Director at Roscommon Baptist Church. Ritchie helped to raise funds for the travel expenses. Deacon Dennis Fiebelkorn drove the men roundtrip from Michigan to Wyoming “Safari Club Mid -Michigan came up big once again by paying for gas, lodging and food,” said Ritchie
The hunters arrived a day early in Thermopolis and met with their guides to sight in their rifles. That night, dinner was provided for them at the local V.F.W. post. Each hero went out hunting after breakfast the next morning and were told they would not settle for a small one.
Each guide is apprised of the hunters’ disabilities and their hunting methods were adjusted accordingly. Danny was concerned he would have to walk a distance and was relieved to find out he was able to just get out of the vehicle and shoot from a rest.
Danny’s Guide T.J. Owsley stated, “I was extremely worried, the weather was windy and rainy. Access to private ground would be limited. The ranchers were concerned we would tear up their roads with our vehicles. The antelope were tucked away out of the wind which presented a challenge spotting a good one.”
Owsley a veteran himself, spotted one that he knew they needed to kill. Danny went on to say, “T.J. knew the landowner and told them our situation and the landowner gladly gave us permission to hunt on his land. He even wanted to help T.J. gut it and lift it into our truck. The special antelope scored 82” and had beautiful heart shaped horns, almost touching at the top.”
Ryan’s guide Shane Wilson took him out the evening before to pre-scout for their hunt, but they were challenged by the weather. Their scouting yielded no bucks they would want to take. The next day Ryan his 75 3/8 Wyoming antelope buck at 8:30 am. A perfect shot took down the beautiful buck just fifty yards from behind the truck.
That evening the V.F.W. handled the meal and local teen aged children served the heroes their meal. All eleven veterans had shot nice bucks and were all happy to tell their stories to each other. The antelope meat was being processed and frozen for their trip home. On Sunday, a meal was provided at a private home and was highlighted by a ceremony to honor each hunter for their service to our country.
Colton Sasser summed up the whole experience, “When Dan and I started Hunting with Heroes, we wanted to honor the disabled vets with a high-quality western hunting experience. What we found was so much more. The greatest benefit from this experience was the friendships that were made and the heartfelt conversations we shared.
If you know a disabled veteran that deserves to be honored or would like to donate for future vets, contact Hunting with Heroes of Wyoming by clicking on their website: https://huntingwithheroes.org/ Be aware that hunts are booked for the next two years.
To become a member of Safari Club international and specifically SCI-Mid-MI. here is their website. Every year SCI Mid -MI supports disabled veterans by providing hunting opportunities they would not afford on their own. https://midmichigansci.org/membership
If you would like to support Ryan Hulce hunt for next year we are planning for him for a Maine Moose Hunt through Veteran’s Afield contact David Hentosh at: https://www.veteransafieldfoundation.org/support and tell him you would like to Support Ryan Hulce (a Michigan disabled Veteran) for his moose hunt.