Montana Wounded Warriors started our third year of taking wounded Montana Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan on hunting trips here in Montana with a visit to our friends at Trophies Plus Outfitters in Alzada. Once again, Mike and Ester Watkins and their staff made our wounded warriors feel welcome and Appreciated.
We took four wounded veterans on this trip. Ryan Ranalli of Helena served with the 2/502nd infantry and deployed for 2 tours from 2003-2006 in Baghdad, Mosul, Samara and Fallujah. Devereux Stutsman of Kalispell served in the National Guard from 1989-2006 and was deployed with E Troop of the 163rd Cavalry from 2004-5 in Baqubah and Kirkuk. George Burke of Hardin is a 22 year veteran of the Army as an infantry MP who deployed in 2003 in the Field Artillery CB53 5th Bat 3rd Field 20 miles north of Baghdad. Marvin Tetachuk of Lakeside served in the Marines from 1983-92 then the Marine Guard and deployed 2004-5 with HC 1-161 in Baghdad, all served in Iraq.
We arrived in Alzada Thursday the 24th and got settled. Marvin and Ryan had been fortunate enough to draw Antelope tags so early Friday morning the 2 of them headed out with their guide Tom Baker, a veteran himself who had served in Vietnam. Tom knows the area very well from several years of guiding and by midday both of our hunters had filled their tags so our trip was off to a good start.
The next morning the guys were all out early for the opener of the deer season looking for Mulies. When they came in for lunch they told of what they had seen and of shots missed but nothing down. When we all met for dinner that night we hadn’t filled any tags but Ester and Carol cooked us up a dinner that was a trophy in itself.
Sunday things picked up considerably . I was riding with Ryan, Marvin and guide Tom and was lucky enough to watch as Ryan got his deer early that morning. When we got back for lunch we saw that George’s guide Kurt had put him on a great Mule deer and he sealed the deal on the biggest mule deer our group would take.
The afternoon hunt saw Dev Stutsman get his deer which meant that everyone had filled at least one tag. That night in camp we had another great meal, then lots of stories and maybe a few adult beverages for a fine evening in the Lodge.
The last day of the hunt had our group of warriors filling B-tags to take home extra meat. Alzada was very successful for our 4 hunters as they harvested 2 Antelope, 3 Mule deer bucks and 3 antlerless whitetails. We were also fortunate to meet Stan Potts of outdoor tv shows North America Whitetails Dominant Bucks and Legacy Trails. He and his neighbor Mike Chapman both took nice deer and were generous enough to donate their meat to the Northwest Montana Veterans food pantry. Our wounded vets all agreed that you couldn’t have asked for a better trip.