GALLIA COUNTY — Veterans gathered together Saturday at the Elks Farm on Ohio 588 for the fourth annual Heroes Tribute Hunt, a special event for veterans.
The event is sponsored and coordinated by the Appalachian Valley Chapter of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NVHDA), which wanted to give back to veterans and introduce them to the hunting dog sport. NVHDA funds the event through a grant from the Ohio Department of Wildlife (ODW) and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to provide for 24 veterans to hunt pheasants with trained dogs.
“Our NAVHDA chapter worked with partners of ODNR, and did the grant money to have a good day out with the veterans,” said Steve Kane, one of the handlers. “My father was a World War II vet, my wife was a Vietnam Navy corpsman, my brothers are veterans, it’s a great way to pay back tribute to these guys. They are our heroes, we don’t appreciate our veterans enough. We were able to work and put a program together, this is a fun day. Today is my birthday and what a better day to spend than with our veterans.”
Kane brought out his dog Lizzy, who flushed out four birds for two hunters, Wes Corbin and Braeden Windham. Corbin, born and raised in Gallia and Windham of Anna, Ohio both participated in the hunt for the fellowship and camaraderie that is intrinsic to the day.
“The camaraderie is a big part, to come out and spend some time with some other vets, get out and hunt, and to have a good time,” said Corbin.
“I think Wes hit the nail on the head there. It’s good to get out, be outdoors and do things we like doing,” said Windham.
Together they harvested three pheasants, with the fourth being too close to the road for a safe shot. Veterans were taken out in different groups during the day, with each getting the chance at five birds.
McKeans Pheasant Farm worked with the Heroes Tribute Hunt by providing the birds and the land for the hunt. Before each group was sent into the field they would release five birds. Small groups of hunters would be led out in the field with a handler and a hunting dog, a spotter, and the occasional photographer. One of the volunteers with Windham and Corbin was Nick Shale, a conservation wildlife biologist with the state of Ohio.
“I like getting out. My dad is a Vietnam vet and he was asked to help out and walk with folks that wanted to get out, enjoy the outdoors and get a little hunt in, and meet some like minded people,” said Shale. “So I came and volunteered to walk and be of assistance any way I can. I’m not a vet, but my good friends are and my family is, I just wanted to get out and support a good cause.”
Multiple local groups came together to make the day possible. The Elks farm provides their grounds and shelter house, and the Gallia County Conservation Club volunteers brought in the National Archery in the Schools Program and the Passport to Fishing Program. The Athens ODNR allowed the use of their trap thrower and the Gallia Shooting Aces 4-H club ran the trap shooting area. Gallia Soil and Water brought in its Furs and Skulls program to exhibit. The Emblem Club catered breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and Bridgeport Equipment rented two utility vehicles at no cost for the day.
“We love the partnerships that we have created with our local organizations and appreciate all of the donations that the community is willing to give. We love getting together every year with the friends that we’ve made because of this event,” said Robyn Slone, HTH event coordinator. “I think we’ve seen new friendships created and old friendships rekindled with our veterans getting the chance to fellowship with other veterans. We’ve even see our AVC NAVHDA new membership numbers increase over the years.”
The application for next year’s grant has already been submitted and plans are in place for a fifth annual Heroes Tribute Hunt.
“I believe the day was a success, we had 19 hunters and some of them got to hunt more than once. We saw some familiar faces, repeat hunters from previous years because they tell me they look forward to this event every year, and we saw some new faces. Word of mouth spreads quickly and generates new hunters for us,” said Slone. “Weather was great, in the past we’ve had snow, we hope to be able to continue this event.”
The group operates a Facebook page to let the public know about their events and and news, which can be found by searching Heroes Tribute Hunt.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.