On Saturday, Oct. 8, Wright County Parks & Recreation hosted its Annual Disabled Veterans Waterfowl Hunt at Robert Ney Regional Park. This would have been the 11th year for the event if it had not been cancelled in 2020 due to COVID restrictions and then again in 2021 due to the drought. This event wouldn’t be the success that it is without the help from Wright County Veteran Services Office (VSO), Four Points Retriever Club, Hasty-Silver Creek Sportsmen’s Club, and Pheasants Forever. They all play a crucial role in the event.
This year we had seven hunters join us. Each hunter had to apply and go through the verification process with the VSO. Once verified, if we have more than eight applicants, which is our max number of hunters, we do a blind draw. Applications are taken from June until September; at which time we do the draw and contact those that were selected.
On the day of the event the hunters arrived at Ney Park between 5:30-5:45 a.m. Pheasants Forever provided donuts, juice and coffee for everyone and, at that time, the hunters met the guides that would be in the blinds with them. Four Points Retriever Club provides the guides and dogs for each blind. After a short welcome and brief rundown for the day, everyone headed to the East Unit of Ney Park where the hunt takes place. Part of our process in this event was making sure we had the proper accommodations for the hunters. In the past, this has meant having the proper equipment to get wheelchairs into the blinds. This year, all of our hunters were able bodied and were taken to their blinds by UTV. Hunters, guides and dogs were all set and ready to go by 6:30 a.m. – 20 minutes before shooting time.
At 10:30 a.m. we started to get the hunters from the blinds. From 6:50 a.m. until that time the goal was to get as many ducks and geese as you legally can. This year, at first light, there were plenty of ducks that lifted off the water to provide almost 30 minutes of constant shooting. At the end of the day, there were 19 ducks taken between the hunters. Once they were out of the blinds, everyone headed to the Hasty-Silver Creek Sportsmen’s Club for lunch, which the club provides. Once everyone was done eating, the club opened the range for any of the hunters that wanted to shoot trap.
The weather was great, the birds were flying, and it could not have been a better day for this program. As a department, we look forward to this event every year. It is just a simple way that we can give back to the men and women who have fought to protect our freedoms. If you would like to participate, donate, or volunteer toward this program, please reach out to Wright County Parks & Recreation at firstname.lastname@example.org.