Hunt can help heal Wounded Warriors

Wausau Daily Herald
Wausau Daily Herald

The weekend of May 21, Wisconsin Angling Adventures hosted its second annual "cast and blast" for Wounded Warriors in Action.

Wounded Warriors in Action was founded in 2007 by retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel John McDaniel as a way of supporting and helping to heal the wounds of decorated combat veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts through adventures in the great outdoors.

 

This year, central Wisconsin was proud to host two veterans for the "cast and blast" weekend -- Matt Tennessen of Kaukana, an Army National Guard member from Rhinelander who was wounded in Afghanistan, and Josh Krueger of Hubertus, a U.S. Marine wounded in Afghanistan.

After arriving the evening of May 20 and purchasing licenses and spending time getting acquainted, the vets hit the rack in anticipation of two great days of turkey hunting.

As the sun rose May 21, the veterans were treated to a symphony of spring sounds, including sandhill cranes, ducks, geese and, of course, turkeys.

Josh and guide Tony Kopchinski had numerous hens and toms work the field they were hunting, but were unable to get a shot. Matt and I hunted hard but were disappointed in the number of birds we saw. After lunch, rain and rest, we headed out again in the afternoon to new locations.

Josh and Tony continued seeing birds, but Matt and I were struggling. As evening drew to a close, Matt and I made a decision to move our blind to a different field edge. Little did we know at the time, we had made the right decision.

Sunday morning arrived with some small thundershowers in the morning, but we anticipated having a great hunt. By 6 a.m., Matt and I still hadn't seen or heard a bird. Matt had said walking out to the blind in the dark that he only wanted to hear a tom gobbling on the roost. Patience paid off and, at 6:05 a.m., a gobble erupted from the woods across from the field we were set up on. This was followed by another gobble, then a double gobble and, shortly after, a triple gobble.

Fog had set in on the field we were hunting when Matt leaned over and started counting: one, two, three ... six, seven ... 10. I threw up the binoculars and amazingly watched five jakes and five toms emerge into the fog-covered field. Within a minute, the five jakes engulfed our decoy spread and, for the next 10 minutes, entertained us as they milled around.

The toms shook the woods as they gobbled continuously but would not approach the decoy. Matt was treated to quadruple gobbles and, with the fog covering the field, you could not have asked for a better scenario.

As the birds started moving away, Matt made a decision to harvest a jake. Within seconds, the bird was on the ground. Josh also had great action that morning, as numerous hens milled around the blind and a tom worked within 30 yards without offering a shot opportunity.

As both veterans returned home May 22, another chapter for the "cast and blast" weekend came to a close. Great memories and friends were made. More importantly, the healing process from the war was hopefully helped.

This event would not have been possible without the help of several businesses and individuals from the Wausau area. Special thanks goes out to the Grand Lodge by Stoney Creek for outstanding accommodations, meals provided by the Log Cabin restaurant, hunting access to properties by Yaeger Auto Salvage and Sampson Creek Ranch properties and turkey mentoring by Tony Kopchinski of the Mosinee Sportsman Club.

Special thanks and recognition go out to all of our veterans who have given so much to protect the freedoms we enjoy. Stay tuned for 2012 as "cast and blast" will return bigger and better.

Todd Bohm is a guide with Wisconsin Angling Adventures and the assistant principal at D.C. Everest Senior High School.

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