Tag Archives: VETERANS

Inaugural Ridgefield NWR Veterans Waterfowl Hunt A Success

THE FOLLOWING IS A STORY FROM THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

From an ADA-accessible blind at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Sal Trujillo watched as the first rays of sun peeked above the surrounding hills. Flocks of mallards, pintails and tundra swans soon filled the sky.

IRAQ WAR VETERAN SAL TRUJILLO PEERS OUT FROM A BLIND DURING THE INAUGURAL RIDGEFIELD NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE VETERANS WATERFOWL HUNT HELD LAST WEEKEND. (BRENT LAWRENCE, USFWS)

Trujillo and 10 other U.S. military veterans celebrated Veterans Day with their first waterfowl hunt as a part of the inaugural Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Veterans’ Waterfowl Hunt.

GEESE WING OVER THE VANCOUVER-AREA N.W.R. WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY SET ASIDE MORE THAN 50 YEARS AGO FOR DUSKY GOOSE HABITAT FOLLOWING THE CATASTROPHIC LOSS OF THE SPECIES’ ALASKAN BREEDING GROUNDS IN AN EARTHQUAKE. (BRENT LAWRENCE, USFWS)

“Getting veterans into the outdoors is so important,” said Trujillo, who started fishing five years ago through a Fallen Outdoors/Community Military Appreciation Committee of SW Washington fishing event for veterans. Trujillo has since bought his own boat and takes other veterans fishing. After his successful day in the field at Ridgefield NWR, he hopes to do the same with waterfowl hunting.

DECOYS SIT ON SHEETWATER AT RIDGEFIELD. (BRENT LAWRENCE, USFWS)

“The outdoors allows veterans to focus on something new, and clear our minds from daily life. This is a great opportunity to learn something new and make new friends. Plus, we’ll eat what we harvest,” said Trujillo, who served five years in the Army 101st Airborne, including a deployment in Iraq.

JENNIFER AND DOUG HAWKINS, WHO ARE BOTH ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY AT JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, POSE WITH A MIXED BAG OF BIRDS ON A GLORIOUS SUNNY SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON WEEKEND. THE SERVICE’S BRENT LAWRENCE REPORTED JENNIFER HAD NEVER HUNTED WATERFOWL BEFORE, BUT PROVED TO “A DEAD-EYE SHOOTER. SHE SLAYED THEM.” (BRENT LAWRENCE, USFWS)

The hunt highlighted many of priorities laid out by Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, including increasing hunting, fishing and recreational opportunities on public lands, while also focusing on a commitment to the recruitment, retention and reactivation of hunters to support the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.

SAL TRUJILLO AND HIS GUIDE FOR THE DAY, RICHARD HANNAN, A RETIRED USFWS REGIONAL DIRECTOR AND ACTIVE MEMBER OF WASHINGTON WATERFOWL ASSOCIATION, SHOW OFF THEIR HARVEST. (BRENT LAWRENCE, USFWS)

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has increased hunting, fishing and recreational opportunities on public lands these veterans served to protect,” said Robyn Thorson, Pacific Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We can’t think of a better way than to honor these veterans on Veterans Day than by introducing them to waterfowl hunting and this fantastic urban National Wildlife Refuge. We hope today is the first in a long tradition of waterfowl hunts that expand to include more veterans over the years.”

DOUG HAWKINS ADJUSTS JENNIFER HAWKINS’ WEIGHTY WATERFOWL STRAP FOLLOWING THE HUNT. SHE LIMITED WITH SEVEN WHILE DOUG BAGGED FOUR OTHERS. (BRENT LAWRENCE, USFWS)

The Lower Columbia Chapter of the Washington Waterfowl Association played an essential role in organizing the event, including coordinating guides and holding a special dinner for the veterans. Additional partners included Ridgefield American Legion Post 44, Fallen Outdoors, Community Military Appreciation Committee of SW Washington, Heroes Northwest, Cabela’s, Gerber Knives, Stein Distributing, Larry Hoff, Rose Real Estate and Evergreen Home Loans.

CINDY LESCALLEET WHO ALONG WITH HER HUSBAND DAVE (BACKGROUND) RUNS THE CHECK STATION EXPLAINS WITH HER HANDS HOW THE ANGLE OF THE TAIL FEATHERS OF THE DUCK IN THE FOREGROUND IDENTIFIES IT AS A PINTAIL. (BRENT LAWRENCE, USFWS)

Richard Hannan, retired Assistant Regional Director for the Service’s Pacific Region and member of the Washington Waterfowl Association, guided Trujillo during his hunt. Hannan’s discussions with the veteran brought back a flood of memories.

RIDGEFIELD ALSO SERVES AS A WAYSTATION FOR PROTECTED SPECIES SUCH AS TRUMPETER SWANS AND IS HOME FOR RARE COLUMBIAN WHITETAIL DEER. (BRENT LAWRENCE, USFWS)

“I choked up a little when Sal shot his first duck and (my Chesapeake Bay retriever) Daisy brought it back to him,” Hannon said. “It reminded me of taking my dad hunting and introducing him to the outdoors I love, and that he never had the chance to experience because of the demands of the uniform (as a 30-year Navy veteran) and family.

DONNA PRIGMORE, OREGON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BRIGADIER GENERAL, SPEAKS WITH SAM DAVIS OF RIDGEFIELD AMERICAN LEGION POST 44 DURING A DINNER FOR THE HUNTERS, THEIR FAMILIES AND GUIDES AFTER THEIR DAY AFIELD. (BRENT LAWRENCE, USFWS)

“Sal mentioned more than once how sometimes he and many other vets go to some dark places in their heads as a result of their service to our nation. By going outdoors he and others are able to push those thoughts away and heal. I think we created some great memories. I know it did for me.”