Hunting and Fishing 2019
Another great trip to Twin Bridges whitetail hunting on the Trailsend Ranch. Todd Bucher, Josh Cota, and Dan Kerpa harvested these wonderful bucks as well as several whitetail does. Huge thank you to Casey and Adam for getting us on the deer and another huge thank you to the Ruby Drake Lodge, Pete and Steve Bartowski for awesome lodging and the best food a person can eat. Great hospitality and friendship for sure.
Opening weekend, one of our Wounded Vets, Mac Vosbeck, was given a chance to fill a bull elk tag that he had drawn for hunting district 411 in the Grass Range area. Dan & Macie Ahlgren opened their home to Mac and board member Neil Baumann. They were able to see a bull right out of the gate the first morning, but by the time they had an opportunity to shoot, he disappeared. The weather was blustery, and the rest of the weekend they were unable to locate any elk.
Mac didn’t give up though. Two weeks later, Mike McGouldrick joined Mac Vosbeck as Dan & Macie invited them to their home once again. Mac got his bull elk and both Mac and Mike got two really nice mule deer bucks. Another awesome and successful hunt with Montana Wounded Warriors. Thanks again to Dan and Macie Ahlgren for their wonderful hospitality and for supporting our Wounded Vets.
We had a great group of Montana Wounded Warriors that participated in our Mule Deer hunt at Fort Peck Hotel in November of 2019. They included Dev Stutsman, Bill Austin, George Burke and Dustin Hostetler along with MTWW board assistant Fred Ricketts. Our host, Carl Mann, the owner of the Fort Peck Hotel, and the 2 guides, Jesse and Caleb, assisted our hunters on a Great Mule Deer hunt. The weather was good for the 1st three days of our hunt, but Sunday we woke up to 5 – 6 inches of snow.
Dev got his deer on the 1st day so Fred took him out for a little Pheasant hunting on Friday. Great weather and a lot of walking. Birds flew ahead of us just out of shooting range, but it was fun seeing Gunner, Fred’s Griffon, go after them. By Saturday everyone had gotten their deer. Carl and the guides took the vets out goose hunting on Sunday. The goose migration was in full force. The Wounded Warriors got a lot of chances at the geese with a few hits and a lot of misses as the geese flew off the river. It was a fun time in the snow trying to harvest the geese.
Everyone had a great trip spending time with each other and enjoying the hospitality of Carl and Linda. Special thanks to Linda who was up each day at 4:00 AM cooking breakfast for the whole group.
Thanks to all that participated…
Fred Ricketts, Board Assistant
October 31st to November 2nd was our second trip to the N-Bar Ranch. Board Member Bob Lilienthal as well as Wounded Vets Richard Schellenger, Bryon Gustafson, and Ike Zahn were welcomed to hunt for cow elk. Montana Wounded Warriors cannot thank the Wilk’s family and staff enough for the opportunity to hunt as well as the generosity and hospitality afforded us. The hunting was fantastic as all three wounded warriors were able to fill both elk tags and were absolutely amazed with the results. They felt very blessed to have had the experience, and for the wonderful meat as well. Hats off to our guides and hosts Todd and Justin; their knowledge and professionalism is and was great. Also, the hunters were able to share their stories of serving and talk about combat experiences, which is an integral part of why we get the men and women of Montana Wounded Warriors together, as well as the hunting opportunities. Thanks so much to everyone who helps to make these adventures possible!
Our third trip to the N-Bar was just as successful. Board Member Jesse Mann took Wounded Vets Chad Carlsen, Dustin Anderson and Duane Whitaker from November 7th to the 9th. Once again, this hunt was incredibly successful, with all the vets filling their cow elk tags. A huge thank you to the Wilks family and their staff for the wonderful memories and support you give to our Wounded vets.
Opening weekend of the 2019 big game rifle season began with a bang! It can be a stressful situation at times trying to get all of the Veterans together and fulfilling all their needs. This year especially has been more than worth all the work that goes into these hunts. My season begins mid summer with talking with the outfitters about what kind of animals they’re seeing and how many Veterans we should schedule. Mike with Trophies Plus Outfitters, has become a great friend and even more so family. I had several phone calls trying to make a trip down to Alzada and do some scouting – maybe even picking up a few sheds, but it never came together for me this year as my crazy work schedule always seemed to be in the way. What did come together was Mike. His family and crew had been seeing big animals and it was going to be an awesome season.
This year was rather special for me because it was a huge reminder for me of why we at Montana Wounded Warriors do what we do. Those who joined me were Art Hazen, Daniel Wilmot, Pete Plaza and Chad Wigley. I also had two new Veterans on the trip, Spencer Keck, and Jonathon (John) Hills who had never hunted before. Seeing the Vets gather in the awe-inspiring trophy room of Mikes and watching them all interact with each other like they were all still in uniform. The bantering back and forth on which branch is better. Go Army! The sharing of their stories of the hardships they have endured. The first morning came quickly as they were all paired up with their battle buddy and guide. We all headed out in anticipation of what the morning would bring. I was riding with John and Art for the morning because it was John’s first hunt. As we pulled into the ranch that we were hunting that morning everything went quiet. We were all suited up and ready to hunt. As Tom “The Super Guide”, approached the first hayfield we spotted a great 5×5 mule deer. John and Art got all set up and Art said “you got first shot buddy” because he knew that John had never killed a deer before. John looked at him kind of in shock as if it was the nicest things anyone had done for him in a while. John’s nerves must have been going a mile a minute as the buck approached into 100 yards. After what felt like an eternity, and no shot fired, the buck decided to take off. As the deer was running away Art was saying in John’s ear “ it’s ok, he’s going to stop!” Well the deer stopped at 225 yards and Art calmly talked to him and when he turned broadside said “Go ahead! Take him!” And just like that John had his first mule deer buck! See, it’s moments like this that ensure me that we’re doing the right thing. Yes, we are all there to hunt and harvest, but the bigger picture is that we are there to bring Vets together and create new friendships for them. To help establish a support chain for our brave men and women who have served. To let them know that they’re all appreciated. As a veteran myself, I experienced something truly special that day. A bond that these men created and will always remember. The rest of our time in Alzada was more of the same. Everyone on the trip harvested exceptional animals. Going 6 out of 6 so early in the season is almost unheard of, but, “knock on wood,” not at Trophies Plus! I have to give a huge thank you the entire family and crew at Trophies Plus Outfitters. All of the Veterans that have gotten to experience your operation are extremely thankful and want to come back every year. I can’t thank you guys enough for welcoming me and my son with open arms. Thank you for all the hard work you all put into taking care of our vets and making it a wonderful experience for all of them that get to come. I also would like to thank Montana Wounded Warriors for continuing this wonderful program that means so much to me and for letting me be a part of it.
We had two great Montana Wounded Warriors that participated in our Mule Deer hunt at Eden, MT just south of Great Falls on Opening Weekend in October of 2019. They included Luke Thomasson and Anthony (Doc) Embesi along with MTWW board assistant Fred Ricketts. Our hosts were Donna and Karl Anderson, the owners of the ranch. We cannot thank them enough for an excellent two-day mule deer hunt. The weather changed from 45 Degrees on our Friday arrival to fresh snow and 25 Degrees overnight making Saturday’s opening day great for our hunt. The snow-covered ranch was beautiful. Deer were moving around in bunches. Both Wounded Warrior Hunters harvested their Mule Deer by 10:30 in the morning. Doc Embesi helped Luke by dialing in a long shot on Doc’s rifle and giving his rifle to Luke so he could have 1st opportunity to take a trophy Mule Deer. That’s a true example of brotherhood among the Wounded Warriors. Karl guided the hunters on his ranch. His many years of guiding were well appreciated. Everyone had a great trip spending time with each other and enjoying the hospitality of Karl and Donna. Special thanks to Donna who once again provided the greatest home cooking for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As before Donna spoiled us with home baked deserts.
Thanks to all that participated…
Fred Ricketts, Board Assistant