As many members and chapters know, deer numbers in the southeast and Midwest can skyrocket if unchecked by hunting. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) contacted the local Music City Chapter to assist them in a special management of deer in the Fall Creek area near Spencer, Tennessee where deer numbers were negatively impacting the area.
They wanted to help manage the area by having a hunt that would be exclusively for veterans. The Music City Chapter was eager to help by supplying volunteers, guides and funding to support this special event and demonstrate their support for our military and veterans. The hunt that Music City Chapter sponsored became known as the Jim Hall Hunt for Warriors, named and dedicated to the long-time caretaker of this area.
This year’s hunt was scheduled for Dec. 2-4. Sixteen Warriors participated. Each Veteran was presented a backpack filled with “goodies” along with an orange vest and a Music City SCI orange cap. Veterans and guides were introduced to one another and the Veterans drew for stands for the following morning. All that was followed by one of several professionally prepared great meals.
The first morning’s hunt started off cold, wet and spitting snow. This did not dampen spirits and the first deer taken was a fantastic 10-point buck scoring 154 3/8 inches, taken by Austin Monchilov. Austin had not been on a hunt in seven or eight years. Meat processors were on hand to prepare the meat for the hunters to take back with them. For some, this was their first-time hunting and many of them harvested their first deer on the hunt.
Two special guests also joined in the activities. Aaron Tippin, American country music artist and record producer, visited with the Veterans who participated in the hunt. In recognition of his continued involvement in entertaining our troops, he was presented a Mossberg bolt-action rifle in .375 Ruger caliber.
Jeff Wellington is a combat Veteran with 31 years of service to our country and was the recipient of the Combat Veteran Award presented at the 2019 Veterans Breakfast in Reno. Jeff was awarded a sponsor-paid black bear auction hunt donated by Bob and Cathy DuHadeway. Jeff is the second recipient of the annual Combat Veteran Award, which is a donated hunt auctioned at the breakfast to pay for travel, meat processing, taxidermy and shipping. The black bear hunt dates conflicted with Jeff’s schedule and he was offered the opportunity to go on the Jim Hall Hunt for Warriors as an alternative.
During the three-day event, Bill and Vicki Swan and I were afforded several opportunities to speak with Jeff at length. Jeff told us of his missions and of the different aircraft that he flew during this time.
The one thing about the hunt that sticks out most in my mind is how much Jeff enjoyed the camaraderie shared by all the Veterans who participated in this event. It was almost as if it were a support group, where each of them shared their experiences and how they have dealt with the obstacles they have had to overcome.
Positive feedback from HOOAH Inc., the nonprofit support organization for deployed military and returning Veterans, after these Veterans return from these hunts, reinforces our belief that we are making a difference in the lives of those who have given so much of themselves to protect our freedom and the American way of life. Some said that it was one of the best experiences of their life. For one person, it was a life changing event that he will never forget.
For those of us who were there to help make the event a success, it is one of the most rewarding things that we do.–Randall Bush, Humanitarian Services Chairman