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Things happen for a reason

WORTHINGTON -- About a year and a half ago I was talking on the phone with Brett Bastine when he told me that things happen for a reason. I just kind of let that pass me by without much thought. Last weekend, an event brought me back full circle ...

WORTHINGTON - About a year and a half ago I was talking on the phone with Brett Bastine when he told me that things happen for a reason. I just kind of let that pass me by without much thought. Last weekend, an event brought me back full circle on that statement.
It was about 18 months ago that I was walking through the Scheels parking lot in Sioux Falls, S.D. It was their Dogs’ Days and they had all kinds of vendors and sellers promoting everything you could ever want to buy a dog. They also had a pool set up for a long jump contest.

I hung out for a while and, as I was leaving, I crossed paths with a guy sitting near a military decorated trailer with the words, “Warriors Never Give Up” decaled on the sides.

I asked the guy behind the table what that was all about. He explained to me that their group was quite new and was in the business of taking combat veterans on hunting and fishing trips.

I mentioned that Nobles County Pheasants Forever might be interested in doing something to help. I took the card and set it on the adding machine on my desk. It was about 6 months later that I uncovered it again, called the number and talked to Brett Bastine.

That following Saturday, he drove to my home in Worthington from his house in Brandon, S.D. We shared a pot of coffee and he explained how and what they did. After a talk with a few of the other members of Nobles County Pheasants Forever, I called him back and told him we would host a pheasant hunt in Nobles County the following October.
That event took place last weekend.

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I have guided many different events and pheasant hunting is always fun to me. This was going to be just one of those events.

I was so wrong.

We started with a meet and greet in the lobby of the Comfort Suites with a few beverages and pizza. There were combat veterans from California, Tennessee, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Others were from the area and they totaled 11 in all.

As we sat together they started to tell stories about their service and the trauma they had seen. This trauma still haunts many servicemen and women today. Each individual has a different, but similar, chapter in their story.
Over the next 72 hours, this PF guy from Nobles County was forever changed. Between the time we spent in the field and the casual times over dinner and happy hour, I came to know these guys and gals in a way much deeper than “what did think of the hunt today?” or “boy that
dog did good.”

They shared their own experiences with the other combat veterans. They spent time in the sun and wind on a beautiful fall day. The sun was bright, the wind did blow really hard but we persevered to a conclusion that could not have been better.

These veterans were a lot better shots with a sniper rifle or M16 then they were with a shotgun, but they all had a lot of fun banging the gun. A few vets had birds taken to the taxidermist as they had never shot a pheasant before. My friend Jim Slokum in Reading got the call on that effort.

Others bought soft-sided coolers to use as an airplane carry-on bag to take their frozen pheasants home with them to share with family and friends.
We sat at my wildlife property called the Outpost and for about 20 minutes after the last hunt we just marveled at the colors of the different feathers on a rooster pheasant.
As a thank you, the veterans presented Nobles County Pheasants Forever with an American flag and a certificate stating the American flag had flown over Camp Lance in Afghanistan. We did not volunteer for this effort with the intention of getting anything in return.

This special flag will be properly displayed and I will bring it to the Nobles County PF banquet March 22nd for all to see.
In my heart, I do not believe a single person connected to this event - even in the smallest way - could say they weren’t impacted in a spiritual way to the happenings of this past weekend. Our service men and women continue to fight personal battles long after the fight on the battlefield has ended. I, for one, am a proud American with great admiration for our nation’s heroes.

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I had that pride before last weekend but it’s different now.

It happened for a reason and I was lucky to be part of it.

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