Gift Hunt 2015
Alex with his 300+ pound hog.
We have just completed another great gift hunt for a deserving veteran. We went, again, to Georgia on a four day hog hunt and all had a great time.
Our guest hunter this year was a young Marine LCpl who was badly injured in Afghanistan, January 2014. He is still assigned at Walter Reed and was given some time off to visit his home in Marietta and also to enjoy a free hunt with our group.
Once again I must thank both Operation Second Chance and my POC there, Kevin Kenney. Kevin and his wonderful organization continue to be our liaison between these great young men and our efforts to give them an enjoyable time hunting hogs in the great state of Georgia. It was through Jay Brown, Executive Director of CHPA that I was introduced to Kevin and things have worked very well. Thanks also for the donations we receive from private citizens scattered throughout the U.S. to help make these gift hunts possible.
The same group of hunters have joined me in these gift hunts for all three iterations and we have enjoyed immensely our hunts with these great young Americans. Three of our group traveled together to Georgia from Clarksville, Tennessee and a fourth came from Florida, where he is an active duty Navy Pilot. As already mentioned, our guest came to the camp from Marietta, Georgia.
Three of us arrived on Friday afternoon, 13 February and two chose to do a quick clothes change and head for the woods in search of our first harvest. I stayed at camp awaiting the arrival of our guest, who was delayed with the typically heavy Atlanta traffic.
Our camp for this hunt is owned by Blaine Burley and is located in rural Johnson County on about 115 acres. We do not hunt hogs around the cabin, but travel 10-30 minutes to several different parcels Blaine either owns or leases that total over 3,000 acres. This is a fair chase hunt for completely wild hogs and as such we run the chance of going home empty handed. Matter of fact, last years guest was the only hunter to score on that four day trip.
Our Marine guest arrived in plenty of time for dinner and our two hunters already out along with group member #5 were all in place for a pleasant homemade lasagna dinner and a couple of rounds of cheer. This first evening we surprised our guest with another part of his gift hunt. We gave our honored guest a new rifle to round out his time with us and (hopefully) with which to take his first hog.
Our guest was caught completely by surprise when his gift rifle was handed to him and he spent a good while giving it the once-over. We were now all set to begin our highly anticipated annual gift hunt.
During the winter months, our host has found that the best time to see hogs is to hunt late afternoons well into darkness (legal in Georgia for hogs). Thus, we all set out the next day with lights and even with some forms of night vision to utilize on the evening's hunt.
First night (second for some) success was realized by our Navy Pilot. Rodney took a couple of hogs, a trophy boar and also a smaller sow (meat hog). This after a delicious lunch and dinner of BBQ wild hog. The ice was now broken and we were all excited about the next day's hunt.
The next night was the big one for our Marine, Alex. He scored on a monster hog weighing over 300 pounds and we all could not have been happier. He made a one shot harvest at well after dark utilizing some of the NV components the guides lent us to enable him to see the big hog in full darkness.
The next night saw two more hogs harvested (one a brute). Our last night of hunting also saw two more big hogs taken. It was an absolutely GREAT hunt for our entire group, as everyone harvested at least one hog.
As we planned for this hunt, it came to my attention that our guest's birthday was to be the day after our hunt ended. I therefore made arrangements to have a special surprise birthday cake delivered to the cabin for our last midday meal together.
I cannot imagine a nicer group nor a better time on a hunt. I have already mentioned Kevin Kenney and Jay Brown as being instrumental in getting things done. Blaine Burley, the camp owner, also does much to help us and ensure a great time is had by all. He has become as fond of these hunts for our deserving veterans as we have.
Last, I need to mention those benefactors that choose to donate either money, their time to join on the hunt, or both. I am forever in debt to these people who have chosen to open their wallets to show these fine young Americans that we appreciate the sacrifices they have made to protect the freedoms we all share and enjoy. This hunt included two individuals who donated additional gifts to our guest, a beautiful handmade knife from England and two books on shooting, signed by the author.
I have also now decided to add another gift hunt this coming September for another deserving Service Member. This hunt will be for black bear in the great state of Maine. Wish us well!
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