Team Red White and Blue's Veteran Hunt
Team Red White & Blue's Veteran Hunt
What do you get when you put two months of planning, a box o'joe, a dozen doughnuts, eight bagels, 100 shotgun shells, eight layout blinds, 100+ full-body goose decoys, one excited Labrador, and one Gulf War veteran together? You get one shot, one goose, and one retrieve!
November 23rd will be a day none of us forget. It was our opportunity to give back to a person who was selfless for our country. She, like all military men and women, sacrificed many things, which is a familiar tradition amongst her family. Her father, brother, and Uncles served in various military branches. Meet Jennifer Jeffery. Jennifer served in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Gulf War, traveled the country during her time in the service, and finally settled her roots here in Syracuse, NY. To describe Jennifer, I would use these words; a smiling face, a gentle laugh, and a team player! She was more than excited to help brush in the blinds, set up decoys, and offer my hunting dog, Buck, a few worthy pets. She fit into our hunting group like she had known us for years.
I was introduced to Jennifer through a personal connection with Team Red White and Blue. Team RWB is a group that brings Veterans together for social events in various cities across the U.S. They gather for runs, long road bike trips, triathlons, or a casual happy hour. They're a great organization for Veterans who want to surround themselves with like minded people and to build connections in their community. For information on joining Team RWB or to volunteer your time at one of their events, please visit- www.teamrwb.org
Now back to the hunt! My buddy Jeremy Bedette of Team Outdoor Addicts helped me organize the morning. He found us a fantastic goose guide in Trent Snyder of Triple Toe Outfitters, and the two began scouting. Jeremy and Trent put us on the X, until the X was plowed under less than two days before the hunt! It was time for plan B; a solid field with hundreds of birds and decent stubble to hide our layout blinds in. Less than a mile from Seneca Lake, we planned for the geese to lift off the lake and find our field. With their cupped wings and excited honks, we were going to open fire and watch Buck do what he loves best, retrieve!
I had been daydreaming for weeks about watching Buck shiver with excitement, about watching Jennifer explode out of her layout blind and knock down her goose, and watching the smile on her face as Buck delivered the goose to her proudly! Welp, that's not exactly how it went!
We had thousands of geese around us. Some were a mile or so away, others right over our field. Some worked the spread while others flew by without even pumping the brakes. Trent, Jeremy, and I flagged, called, and prayed for a few geese to make their fatal approach that morning. We all watched eagerly as flocks worked our decoys, just outside of range, until one goose got too close. Trent called the shot and we all rose up, barrels aiming at the one Lone Goose. BOOM! One shot and one stone dead goose. Jennifer didn't even take her safety off. After Buck delivered the lonely goose, we all sat back waiting for more, but more never came.
As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, my Grandpa Casey's trusty quote rings in my head, "that's why they call it hunting Bob, not shooting"." Let's get serious for a second. We all worked extremely hard planning this day. We got up at 3am, the wind was right, the field was good, we all sat still, and all we got was one goose. Why didn't we get more to come in? Your guess is as good as mine, but if you looked at Jennifer that day, you would have thought we shot all our boxes of shells, piled our limit high and every bird had a band! She was a trooper! She, like us, is a hunter and outdoorswoman. She wasn't there for bands, limits, or sore shoulders. She was there to be in the moment. She took it all in and enjoyed every minute. From the rolling thunder of goose honks, to the large flocks lifting off the lake, Jennifer and our group of hunters enjoyed the laughter and camaraderie that our Lone Goose hunt delivered.
November 23, 2013 is a day I'll never forget. Meeting Jennifer, planning the hunt, being outdoors, and watching my dog do what he loves, is what I did it for. Birds will come and go, years will pass by, and Buck will grow gray in the muzzle, but that hunt with Jennifer, Jeremy, Trent and the others will be a memory that lasts a lifetime.
Cheers to that Lone Goose!
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