For the past several years, the Idaho Division of Veteran Services has partnered with staff from Fish and Game, Magic Valley Region to provide opportunities for disabled American veterans to enjoy a day of mentored waterfowl hunting. Depending on the year, four to eight veterans have participated in mentored duck hunts in Hagerman, which allows for these American hero’s to participate in a hunting activity, which for many, is their first time in a duck blind.
Fish and Game Habitat Manager Mark Fleming who is a Gulf War veteran commented “As a combat veteran it feels great to provide an enjoyable experience for our disabled veterans.”
“Working with veterans each year to get out and do something that they normally don’t have an opportunity to do, has been a fantastic program over the last few years”, according to Robert Smith, Idaho State Veteran Service Officer, “having the opportunity to participate in mentored hunts opens up their horizons to do activities such as duck hunting, especially with a hunting mentor who provides them with advice and help while sitting next to them in the duck blind.”
“Having the chance to meet fellow vets and staff from Fish and Game, while learning a new skill such as waterfowl hunting, gets our vets out into a natural environment” said Smith, “just having the chance to experience the diversity of birds here in the Hagerman area is really important to each of these guys.”
Sharing a day with fellow disabled American veterans brings a day of laughter and comradery between veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard which often results in good natured banter about who is the best shot.
Habitat Biologist Skyler Farnsworth summed up the day when he said, “I feel privileged to witness the joy that these mentored waterfowl hunts provide our local veterans.”