Wounded Warrior Hunts
Eight soldiers from five states (Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) met near Nashville, Mo., for a special mission: four days of hard-earned outdoor recreation therapy at Peterson Outdoors Ministries’ 3rd annual Wounded Warrior Deer Hunt. They would spend opening weekend of the firearms deer season hunting private property, thanks to local landowners.
The participants spent the first day getting to know one another and firing and sighting in their guns. Soldiers were given backpacks full of gifts, mostly hunting items donated by sponsoring companies, and hunter orange vests that had been embroidered with their names.
It was a good first day for the soldiers, but not their first experience with the Peterson Ministries’ staff. The organization had begun contacting the families and preparing for their visit months prior. The organization’s goal is to minister to the needs of the soldiers and their families before, during, and after the event itself.
“It is great to get wounded warriors or individuals with disabilities into the outdoors, but if it stops there, then it falls far too short,” says Tron Peterson, founder of Peterson Outdoors Ministries, a nonprofit organization that offers outdoor recreational therapy to wounded warriors, as well as to children and adults with dis abilities or terminal illnesses, at no cost.
Programs are designed for the soldier’s whole family because spouses and children of wounded warriors also deserve support, healing opportunities and a fun adventure.
Day 2: Team Building
The season opened with a great first morning for the soldiers. Dustin Morrison, of New Market, Iowa, scored a great buck and several others also had deer down. Everyone was treated to a talk by Chuck McAlister, founder and host of the hunting program Adventure Bound Outdoors.
The hunting groups are an important factor in the organization’s process and success. “We team our hunters with a professional guide and videographer,” explains Tron. “These teams are picked not on their hunting ability or excellence in filming, but because of their character and willingness to make a difference, encourage each other, and help the soldier with his struggles.”
Participants are encouraged to use their time outdoors to reflect. “Each morning, before the hunt starts, we have a speaker share a message of hope and encouragement for the soldiers to reflect on while in the hunting blind,” says Tron. “Each evening, we have a speaker give a message to the entire group of soldiers, their