Montana Wounded Warriors

Over the summer we were contacted by Alan Peterson about hunting at the AG Ranch, located east of Big Sandy.  He told us there were lots of mule deer and that after our vets had filled their deer tags, they could hunt pheasants, waterfowl, coyotes and prairie dogs.  It sounded like a good opportunity to get a couple of wounded vets out into some new country.  So we made plans to head over to the AG Ranch just before Thanksgiving.

When we arrived, we could see immediately that the wildlife was plentiful.  We were also extremely impressed with the beauty of this piece of ground along the Missouri River.  The first night we were guided by Phillip Russell who took us up along Birch Creek to get the lay of the land.  The two veterans we brought, Mackay Mathiason and Brandon Olsen, both from Billings, saw lots of deer, but realized they were in a special place and if they were patient, they would be rewarded with a trophy mule deer.  So the first night, no shots were fired.

The next day, Alan Peterson’s friend, Lloyd Parson, gave us an even more extensive tour of the ranch where we not only saw many deer, including one our hunters wished they had gotten a shot at, but multiple herds of Missouri Breaks bighorn sheep, which was really exciting for our vets.  The day ended with no deer harvested, but with high hopes for Saturday.

Early Saturday morning, Mackay shot a beautiful deer just as the sun was coming up.  Then later in the day, Brandon saw the deer from the day before and was able to kill the biggest mule deer any vet has ever taken on one of our trips.  This was an awesome trip for our wounded warriors, and we can’t thank Alan Peterson enough for the opportunity to hunt the AG Ranch.  Alan, a veteran himself, said he was looking for a way to give back to our younger veterans, and he was very successful in the eyes of these two soldiers and Montana Wounded Warriors.  Thanks to Lloyd Parsons for providing us with his camper so we had a roof over our head for the weekend, and for his extensive knowledge of the ranch and where to find the deer.  Thanks also to Phillip and Laura Russell for their help and hospitality while we were at the ranch.  They not only helped the guys hang their deer, but provided some beer to help with the story telling that goes along with the hunt.  They also cooked our vets a nice steak dinner.  We would also like to thank Bruce and Pete Vasboda for loaning us their side by side to help the guys get around the ranch and haul out their deer.  It was a great trip all around, and we look forward to returning to that part of the Missouri Breaks in the future.

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As the season chugged along I was focused on getting my twelve year old son his buck, but in the back of my mind chomping at the bit for the 16th of November to come. With the success of my son getting his deer, it was nearing the 16th, which meant it was my turn. Neil Baumann (board member of MTWW) had asked me to be a hunter on a new ranch that we heard had some phenomenal deer. The hunt was everything I expected and more. We saw so many big deer and sheep it was insane. Being able to spend that hunt with people you love and that have inspired you to do better and be better was priceless. On this hunt we harvested the biggest deer that a warrior has ever shot on any of these trips! An absolute TOAD! Even though I wasn’t that vet, I shot probably my personal best deer to date! What an epic hunt that was because we all shot beautiful animals and will cherish that hunt in our minds for years to come.

These hunts help so many different people in so many ways. They have helped me personally and professionally by being surrounded by such caring people. I know that they help vets by giving them a sound board and people that truly understand what they’re going through. I have seen how this affects volunteers that are not veterans but people that care about giving back. These hunts mean the world to so many veterans and it continues to help vets in need of something in their life. I heard it on every hunt this year. How it has changed their lives and how they can’t wait to help out wherever needed. That makes me know that I’m still a part of something greater than me. Just as we all knew in the military. Thank you Montana Wounded Warriors for allowing me to take part in another great year! To everyone that supports or donates to Montana Wounded Warriors, thank you for letting me take part in saving veterans lives.

-MacKay Mathiason