GALLIPOLIS — Disabled veterans gathered from across the region to partake in a game bird hunt Saturday at the McKean Farms Upland Hunting Reserve.
It was all part of an initiative organized by the Appalachian Valley Chapter of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association.
According to Robin Slone, event representative, the group applied for a grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Department of Wildlife.
“We had 24 veterans registered,” Slone said. “We had a clay target shooting area set up for hunters. We had Passport to Fishing activities.”
Proper care practices for harvested game were demonstrated, as well as safe gun handling courses, activities demonstrating fish casting, knot-tying, archery shooting as well as demonstrations on how to train and care for versatile hunting dogs. The event lasted from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a dinner for hunters and their families after everyone returned from a day out in the field.
Four hunting fields played host to the hunting events with roughly 80 acres of land for veterans to travel through a guided hunt. Department of Wildlife officers traveled with hunters and NAVHDA representatives as German wire-hair dogs kicked up pheasants for hunters to take shots at and retrieved animals hit.
They day brought a spring snow as temperatures bounced about the 30s on a cloudy day.
According to brothers and dog handlers John and Steve Kane, both veterans themselves, it was about giving back to the community and communing with fellow veterans.
Steve Kane remarked after watching a veteran in his 80s who had never fired a shotgun that he “hoped he could shoot as well as he did at that age.” Watchers said he was a natural.
The Kanes said that one could easily invest thousands of hours into training their dogs for such events, but that every minute was worth it.
John Triplehorn, a veteran of the Korean War, took six pheasants at the hunt with his 28-gauge shotgun. He spent two winters in the Korean War from 1952-54. He shared that the war ended while he spent time overseas. He noted he was an experienced pheasant and grouse hunter. Triplehorn said he owned at least one German wire-hair.
“I got two bird dogs,” Triplehorn said. “I enjoy watching the dogs work more than the killing the birds.”
According to Colin McKean, preserve owner, he enjoyed being part of an opportunity to provide back to those who had risked their lives and sacrificed for the country. He said he looked forward to being part of another such event in the future.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.