The first Tuesday in December saw rain like no one could imagine with lots of flooding everywhere. The first Tuesday was also the first day in the woods for the Music City SCI’s “Jim Hall Hunts for Warriors.” Fifteen combat wounded soldiers were treated to three days of hunting with a personal guide, prize drawings, food, lodging and just plain ol’ fun and camaraderie. Being the first event for the new SCI Chapter chartered this year at the Tucson Board meeting, more than ten members of the Chapter spent three days there even though the location was more than two hours from home.
According to Steve Jackson, President of the newly formed Music City SCI Chapter, “This was one of the most fun-filled and gratifying three days I have had the honor of being a part of.” According to Steve, this in part, was a small way to show appreciation for the warriors’ service to our country. Bill Swan III and Jeff Tenhhundfeld, Music City Members, co-chaired the event, which involved selecting and placing ground blinds, working with the caterer, and selecting a venue to house the hunters. The 13 deer harvested will be processed courtesy of the Chapter and will be ready for pickup within a week.
There were several groups assisting with the event including students from the “Wildlife Society” at Cleveland State College, many employees and officers from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), officers and employees at the Fall Creek Falls State Park, many local businesses and The Tennessee State Senate Republican Caucus that donated funds to the event.
The students worked in assisting with ageing of the deer, field dressing and helping with the event. Because of that help, Pittman-Robinson Funds (P-R) will be available for TWRA. In past years, TWRA had been leaving money on the table because they could not find the required 25% match for P-R. At the State Wildlife Society meeting last year, it was suggested they use in-kind matches for the required 25%. Volunteer hours would count towards the 25% match, as long as they were qualifying hours. For example, data collection during deer hunts from volunteer hours counts a little over $20 per hour. What that means is for every hour someone volunteers during a qualifying activity, the TWRA can collect over $60 of P-R money from the federal government. For every eight hours someone volunteers, the TWRA can get almost $500 in P-R funds. In the past, TWRA had to come up with $160 to get those funds. With the vast quantities of P-R dollars available and the limited budget of the state agency, this is a great way to capture those dollars without costing the sportsmen and women of the state a cent!
Darren Wilson, one of the warriors who was the recipient of SCI Life Membership presented by the Veteran’s Committee at 2015 Convention, commented, “It was a great event because of the fact that it was just for the soldiers. It allowed them to decompress and relax around other soldiers, and to hear their stories, laugh and joke. Then to get in the blind and unwind is a great opportunity to enjoy nature. With the light being shed on so many soldier suicides, this is a great example of how to give back to us. Those there did an outstanding job of checking on the soldiers and ensuring that they were well taken care of. I cannot thank you, Bill Swan, III, and the group from the Music City Chapter enough! The only thing I would say is to reach out to some veteran support agencies for backing and sponsors of future events.”
The Park was gracious in allowing the soldiers to hunt around the golf course. This was only the second time in the history of the Park that firearms had been allowed on a hunt. Last year’s Warrior Hunt was the first.