Waterfowl for Warriors … 2016

Last Thursday I was privileged to attend the lunch for one of the annual veteran’s hunts that are part of the Waterfowl for Warriors project. The hunts are held at the City of Anoka Nature Preserve. This year there are four separate events throughout September and October. (See HERE for last year’s blog about this event.)

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When I arrived at the lunch, I was greeted by this mound of birds. The hunters bagged 45 birds – quite the successful hunt!

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Just prior to lunch, Sgt. Scott Wall, Minnesota State Patrol and one of the founders of the Waterfowl for Warriors program, recapped the morning hunting event.

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Jim Urban, Anoka Legion Chaplain and Waterfowl for Warriors volunteer, lead the group in prayer before lunch.

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Hunters and volunteers were quite busy, discussing the successful hunt. (The man who is standing is Anoka City Manager, Greg Lee.) Just sitting there, I could feel and see the respect and joy of the veterans and volunteers for one another. What an amazing experience.

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Katie, a black lab, was pretty interested in the lunch being served. Maybe she wanted some of the carrot cake that is provided by Ellen Ward each year. All I know is that the whole cake disappeared, but Katie is not to blame. The veterans requested two cakes for next year. Katie is the cook’s (Mark Bechenbach) dog.

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This is Tom Weaver, the man who makes custom duck calls. Two duck calls were given as (out)door prizes to lucky veterans. To learn more about the duck calls, click HERE.

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Easton Eckstrom drew the names of the winners for the duck calls. Easton is the five-year son of Derrick Ekstrom, a veteran and a City of Anoka Police officer. Also shown in the photo is Sgt. Scott Wahl  and Jeff Weaver, Anoka City Council Member.

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The group also recognized the cook, Mark Bechenbach, for the excellent meal. Mark is a little shy. Also shown in the photo is Mark Anderson, City of Anoka Public Works Superintendent, Bill Bye from the City of Anoka Public Works Department, and Mark Bechenbach, Veteran, City of Anoka Volunteer Fireman, and Event Cook.

So, here we were, sitting out in a nature preserve, enjoying lunch on a warm Thursday in September, with veterans. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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The hunting crew (Photo by Jeff Weaver)

Thanks for reading!

 

Waterfowl for Warriors … getting veterans out hunting

Veteran’s Day, 2015

In honor of all veterans, this year I am writing about a very special veteran’s project in Anoka, Minnesota. For the third year, the City of Anoka hosted the Waterfowl for Warriors event. Each year there are two September hunts for early goose season and two October hunts for regular waterfowl season. The events are held at the Anoka Nature Preserve, a 200-acre parcel of land that was placed into conservation by the City.

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Each event includes a morning hunt where veterans are transported to the field. Volunteers call birds and provide dogs for retrieving, along with patrolling the perimeter of the field to assure a safe hunt and alert people that a hunt is occurring. Ammunition for the hunt is provided by Federal Premium Ammunition, a long-standing employer and community partner in Anoka.The morning’s hunt concludes with a fully-donated lunch. At the first event, Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr presented medallions to each of the Veteran Hunters prior to the hunt. Plaques were also presented, recognizing those who have volunteered to make the hunts such a success.

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The idea for the project was started by Scott Wahl, a state patrol officer from Coon Rapids, and George Walker, an Anoka police officer and former marine. These two were joined and enthusiastically supported by Anoka Council member Jeff Weaver. The hunts are becoming more and more popular – so much so that the city is now stepping in to further help by taking over the registration of veterans for the hunts.

A successful hunt … in many, many ways.

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For more stories on the hunts, click HERE and HERE.

A BIG THANK YOU to all VETERANS!!

As always, thank you for reading my blog.

Photos provided by Jeff Weaver.