Seth Nieman, originally from Calvin, ND, took this nice muley north of Killdeer. A news story featuring Nieman (the video is gone but you can read the story) can be found at – http://www.kxnet.com/story/23396975/injured-military-wildlife-project
Below (l to r) IMWP hunter, Matt Burke, from Newberry, FL with his deer; IMWP board member Bill Schaller; and George Berger, operator of Baldhill Creek Adventures of Binford, ND. Berger has donated an all-inclusive hunt each year to honor our injured veterans. Burke also harvested three roosters his last day of hunting. Burke’s summary of the hunt appears below pictures.
What an amazing time!!! There’s no way I can articulate how much this meant to my family and me, but I’ll try. Similar to many other wounded warriors, the mental and physical struggles go far beyond the reflection in the mirror. Our strife monopolizes relationships and self-efficacy. The Injured Military Wildlife Project hit a grand slam in full count, in the bottom of the ninth and down by three. You see, my bases are loaded with the potential of making a difference with my family and the surrounding community. I struggle with the fear of failure (like I’m always in full count), because of the constant mortar attacks I faced in Afghanistan. It felt like my clock was ticking and one of those suckers could drop on my head at any moment… no place was safe. I continue to feel as if I have little control over my situations. However, while at Baldhill Creek Adventures, George showed me that trusting in someone else is paramount to success. He, Mark, and Wayne were an amazing combination in showing me the thrill of the chase; something I had lost along the way. When they pushed a buck to me in an open field I felt a pulse of adrenaline that had long been buried. My position was perfect, my aim steady, but my calculation and equipment failed me. I squeezed off the first of five rounds when that buck was in full sprint (by the way, I’ve never seen a whitetail run like that) quickly closing the distance at a little over 100 yards. I lead him just a little too much. Quickly chambering another round, the gun jammed. I could not get the pump action back in forward position. No matter how hard I tried, the situation was in my hands and I was unable to capitilize. Wow, when everything calmed down I was filled with joy and anguish simultaneously.
George assured me there would be another opportunity as we headed back to camp.When we arrived at camp, George spotted a buck topping a hill. We decided to make a move on it. We drove as close as possible then topped the same hill with stealthy intentions. He was nowhere in sight. As George began to top another hill I saw the buck about 400 yards to the north working his way into some trees. We determined that he was bedded down and George went after the ATV. We made a move on him from downwind, but he saw us and stood up. George backed up and we put a stalk on him, which led me to crawl to the top of a hill. As I peaked over the hill I could see him walking directly at us. I set up and made a clean shot when he presented an opening. He ran right up to us and dropped! As I basked in the success of this stalk hunt, I realized that I am still capable. When George left me to go get everyone and my new IMWP knife, I had ample time to reflect on the developments of the day. As I held my deer in solitude, I thanked God for everyone that assembled this hunt for us, and for creating such an amazing creature.
After the rush, I sat in the cabin reflecting on the events that had unfolded that morning. In absolute content, I now knew I still have what it takes to feed my family. Just then, Bill turned from the table and asked, “What now?” I was hoping a pheasant hunt was in the line up, but I didn’t want to ask. Just like that, you made it happen. Before I could even stand up you were on the phone gearing me up for an addition to an extraordibnary day.
Hunting pheasants behind dogs is really neat. It uniquely holds its very own place in absolute awesomeness. I felt more nervous than when I was deer hunting; like I was sure to punch holes in the clouds. But I connected with the second rooster that busted the bushes. He folded up and fell to the round, dogs in hot pursuit to fetch him. George, Mark, and Wayne worked diligently to get me on birds and within two hours I had limited out with three roosters.
I was astonished at how Baldhill Creek Adventures and Injured Military Wildlife Project came together to get me back in the game. I know there were a lot of behind the scenes work that I didn’t see, and I’m grateful for everyone that made this rehabilitative hunt come true.
(Ret.) MSgt. Matthew R. Burke, USAF
Sgt. David Young, Devils Lake, ND took this buck north of Killdeer. Read Young’s ‘Thank You’ note below photo.
“I would like to start by introducing myself. My name is SGT David Young, and I was part of the most incredible weekend I have had in a long time, thanks to the ND Injured Military Wildlife Project. I have been in the National Guard for 10 years. I was deployed to Iraq August 2005 to November 2006 with Alpha Company 164 out of Minot, ND. Our mission in Iraq was route clearance or “Trailblazer.” The mission Trailblazer is exactly as it sounds; we go on patrol on all major supply routes and clear the roads of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) and insurgents. It was our job to ensure that every convoy, patrol, or local citizen that traveled the road behind us was always safe. Throughout the year our company found a total of 471 IED’s, which to this day is still the most IED’s found by one single company in a year’s time frame. Every IED we would find factored out to be 1.7 American lives we would save. It was an awesome feeling knowing that our job was making a difference and saving lives every day!
The 471 IED’s we found were not always an easy task. Sometimes the IED would find us first. Each soldier I was deployed with had the unfortunate day where they had encountered an IED blast. On a day when that would occur we relied greatly on the durability of our vehicles.
On May 20th, 2006 I was hit by an IED while I was in the gunner’s hatch. The blast launched me up out of my seat and I hit my neck on the turrent, causing my neck to break. I also suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). I spent the next month recovering on the base. I consider myself to be very fortunate to still have all my limbs and most importantly my life.
The events that day and my deployment still affect me. I have significant mobility issues and also suffer from headaches daily. However, the ultimate injury I sustained isn’t visible. I suffer from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. My mentality when I came home wasn’t any different than when I left for my deployment, or so I thought. I soon realized that I wasn’t the same person. In fact, no one who went on our deployment will ever be the same person they once were. A year after returning to day to day life my mentor in the Army took his own life. He was living with me at the time and was like a big brother to me. I had no idea how much he was suffering from PTSD until that day. I was with him at the time and tried everything in my power to stop him and let him know that we can find help together. I will never know what he was thinking or if I could have helped him now because it is too late.
After the events of the day I became very angry. I almost lost my wife from my anger. Thank God I had a good support system from family and friends to help me through that horrible time in my life. If it wasn’t for my wife standing by me I’m not sure where I would be today.
While I traveling home from this incredible weekend of hunting, I tried to think of a way to explain to each and every one of you who helped make this dream of mine come true, just how significant and meaningful this weekend was to me and my family. When I got home and started to talk to my wife about this event, she looked at me and said that this was the first time she had seen me act like my old self since before Joe took his life. So you see, this weekend of hunting was not just fun and exciting for me, it was a life changing experience. I got to feel alive and free of stress for the first time since 2007. Besides seeing the birth of my children, this was one of the greatest days of my life. For that, I thank you, and my wife thanks you, too. Without your help and selflessness of providing this experience for people like me, I would have forgotten just what it felt like to be alive”.
SGT David A. Young