NEW ULM - There were a lot of smiling disabled veterans at River Ridge Gun Club on Saturday during the Second Annual New Ulm Disabled American Veterans Chapter 15 pheasant hunt.
The event, hosted and paid for by the local DAV, focuses on helping veterans unable to hunt on their own due to injuries by giving them a new, free hunting opportunity. DAV members help their fellow handicapped veterans into the field, with hunting dogs used to help veterans with the hardest disabilities.
"It's disabled veterans helping disabled veterans," said Jerry Thompson, last year's event organizer.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Ben Gorski, 82, of Springfield takes a shot at a pheasant during the Disabled American Veterans hunt Saturday at the River Ridge Gun Club near Courtland. Fifteen hunters and several dozen volunteers participated in the event that was sponsored by the New Ulm chapter of the DAV.
This year's event expanded the number of hunting veterans from 12 to 15 by drawing in veterans from areas beyond Brown County, including Mankato, Lake Crystal and Mapleton. This year's event also included veterans from the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to the returning veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The number of volunteers assisting the hunters also grew to over 30 individuals.
The event released 60 pheasants into the fields this years and the group bagged a staggering 38 of the birds.
Thompson said the group plans to keep expanding and pulling in more veterans from a wider area. He said they want to provide the unique opportunity to as many other veterans as they can.
"It was a lot of fun. We put a lot smiles on the faces of a lot of veterans," said Thompson.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org