This was a first for Jesse Mann, a board member of the MTWW. He had never taken part in one of our hunts as a wounded warrior even though he was wounded during his service in Iraq. Instead, he would watch from the side and cheer on the other wounded warriors as they took part in our once in a life time hunts. This hunt was different. Jim Johnson of Billings and the Ballard family of Lavina graciously invited Jesse to also hunt on their ranch. This hunt was put on to honor the memory of Mr and Mrs. Ballard’s son who was a veteran of OIF and suffered from extreme PTSD. The hunt first started off with Broc O’Hara of Columbia Falls and Jesse hunting on Jim Johnson’s ranch. They had only been there for about 30 minutes when the first deer was taken.
As they shifted gears and headed over to the Ballard Ranch, Broc and Jesse met up with the 3rd wounded warrior, TJ Smith. TJ had a very close connection to the Ballard’s as he served with their son in Iraq. Both Jim and his son took them around their property looking for elk. As the evening drew to a close on the first night, TJ and Jesse were perched up on top of a draw as the elk started to walk through. Both TJ and Jesse harvested an elk that night. The next day Broc and Jesse went out in search for deer and elk and got into a nice group of whitetail deer. They made a stalk, got into position and Broc made a shot. Though that stalk didn’t produce any meat for the table, the next stalk would. Broc’s injuries started to take their toll, so they decided to take a break from the hunting and just do some relaxing. The Ballard family put on a wonderful BBQ at their cabin overlooking the valley and the views were spectacular. As the wounded warriors finished a 2 day hunt, 2 deer and 2 elk were harvested.
It was a wonderful time and we know the Ballard’s son’s memory will live on as Montana Wounded Warriors has decided to make this hunt an annual tradition.