To all at The Sportsmen’s Foundation for Military Families, recently you gave my brother Chad and I the wonderful opportunity to go on a guided hunt in Sampson County, NC. I wanted to take this time to thank you for everything you have done for me. The trip was a “huge success” in my book. For starters it gave me something to look forward too, which is something that for the longest time has been very hard to do.
The experience was just phenomenal in that it gave me the chance to share some stories and thoughts with great people and also helped bring my brother Chad and I closer together and share the experience of a lifetime. In part, Commander Barry Hull was a tremendous companion to hunt with and we were able to share some familiar experiences with each other and talk a bit about the military and our own personal experiences. I think that many veterans in the healing process from combat related injuries would benefit greatly from an experience like this. I know that I did.
As you might know already we had some bad weather while there. Hurricane Ida hit the coast the day after we arrived at Buffalo Creek. There were high winds, a ton of rain, and some chilly temperatures for the remainder of the week. But, we were able to harvest several whitetail deer, and my prize trophy possum which will be stuffed and put in my living room to bring back those memories for many years to come. Well it probably is not a real trophy to most, but it was the first one I had ever seen so it definitely has a spot in my trophy book.
All in all, it was just a great time and once again I want to thank everyone who took part in making this happen for me. If there is ever anything that I might be able to do for any of you please let me know. Thanks again and happy hunting!!!
– Justin T., USMC
The Sportsmen’s Foundation for Military Families thanks Kyle Poulson for his time and assistance and the use of his Texas ranch which made the following hunt possible:
A Texas Trophy
My name is Luke and I served seven years in the U.S. Army. I served two tours in Iraq and was wounded on the second tour when an Improvised Explosive Device struck my vehicle. I lost my Right leg in the attack and the left one was mangled. At the time of the injury I was a Staff Sergeant leading a 10 man Reconnaissance team in Sadr city, Baghdad. After being injured I spent one year in Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where I received 27 surgeries and extensive physical therapy.
I have always loved the outdoors and my favorite memories as a child are filled with fishing, hunting and chasing my three brothers through the woods. I was good in the woods so naturally I excelled in the military. As I lay in my hospital bed in Washington D.C. I realized that I would never run again, and this did not bother me as bad as the realization that I would also never be as good of a hunter or fisherman as I once was.
On a Saturday morning I was watching a hunting show of a wounded soldier on the T.V. and I thought to myself “I want to do that” so when the show was over I called the number on the screen. A man answered and said his name was Danny Santangelo with the Sportsmen’s Foundation for Military Families and I informed him that I would love to go on a hunt. Danny told me to send him my biography, so I did. Within a few minutes Danny called me back and said “son thank you for your service to our country and you can hunt whatever you would like.” I informed him that I would love to hunt a Texas white tail, and he said, “DONE.”
A month later I was Flying into Dallas Fort Worth, TX and meeting the sponsor of the hunt and some of Danny’s staff. We loaded up in a white Cadillac escalade driven by a lady named Muff and proceeded to the ranch. Upon arrival of the ranch I was blown away by its beauty and abundance of game. I pictured Texas would be flat and boring like Iraq but what I found was totally different, huge hills, tons of trees and plenty of water. As we pulled up to the lodge we met Kyle whose property we would be hunting on. He opened the door and we walked into a hunter’s paradise a gorgeous lodge full of trophy white tail mounts as well as exotics from all over the world. Kyle seemed a bit nervous as he prepared all of the gear because he was moving so quickly. I kept offering to help him but he insisted that I sit back and relax until it was time to go hunt.
I asked him when we would go, and he said we could go as soon as you sight in my gun, and I was out the door. The rifle was a Sako .270 with a Swarovski scope. My first shot was dead center of the bull’s eye at 100 yards. I shot the weapon again and the bullet hole was half way inside the first shot. I was beginning to realize that Kyle, based on his immaculate ranch and extremely accurate rifle, did not play around. About an hour later Kyle and I were riding in his Polaris ATV out to the stand, which we would be hunting in. Kyle had all of the gear we would need and a video camera but was still moving at a nervous accelerated speed. I wanted to tell him to chill and lets just have a relaxing hunt but not this guy; he was in the zone.
Kyle wanted me to shoot a trophy white tail almost as bad as I did. Once we were in the stand Kyle gave me the lay of the land and explained the bucks that had been seen in the area and to wait until he said shoot if one should come out. After about an hour of sitting there Kyle was becoming frustrated because we had only seen three does and a small buck about 500 yards away. I was shocked that he was not content because I was in hog heaven just seeing four deer. There was about an hour left of shooting light when this beautiful 8 pt walked out and began feeding around the area. I put the cross hairs on him and Kyle said, “Nope, he’s too young.” This was the biggest 8pt I had ever seen through a scope and up to this point I still had never killed a trophy white tail. I was very disappointed that Kyle would not let me shoot this fine animal but did not show it. I noticed the buck seemed nervous and Kyle and I knew there was something in the area lurking.
I was praying that it might be a more mature buck when all of the sudden this 275 lb boar walked out. He looked like a bear as he attempted to intimidate the buck. Kyle said, “Sorry you can’t shoot that buck bud but you can smoke that hog if you’d like” and I was like heck yeah! I told Kyle I was going to shoot the big fellow in the head and he looked at me funny and said all right just let me get it on tape. I took aim as he charged the buck and squeezed off the round. The massive hog was no match for Kyle’s Sako rifle as the bullet struck his head dropping and killing him instantly. Kyle shouted in approval and yelled, “Yeah hammer time.” It was all Kyle and I could do to load the massive hog into the buggy and to our surprise the hog had huge cutters. Kyle asked if I wanted to have him mounted and I immediately said yes sir. I had come to Texas for a white tail and at the minimum was leaving with a trophy boar.
The next morning Kyle and I set out for a different stand where some of the ranch hands had been seeing a massive buck. It was dark out and Kyle said if this buck walks out you will know it and I began to get nervous. I was watching Kyle scan the area just as the first light appeared and all of the sudden his bino’s stopped. He dropped the binos and looked at me with his eyes WIDE open and said don’t get nervous but here he comes. My heart started pounding and I thought to myself how in the world am I going to not be nervous. Kyle informed me that I was going to need to turn around to shoot this buck and I began to doubt the fact that I could do it quiet enough to not scare the buck. I stood up slowly and after what felt like a lifetime amount of time I was able to see the buck. The deer was feeding. Every time he moved his head the huge horns moved with him. I thought there is no way I am going to be able to shoot him; I’m way too excited. Kyle told me to breathe deeply and I took aim at the buck, he told me to take my time. All of the sudden the buck started to act nervous and Kyle said he’s not going to hang around much longer, it was now or never.
I told Kyle I was going to take the shot and he nodded in approval. I began leaning on the trigger and the rifle fired. It was still pretty dark out but I watched the buck jump and stagger toward the woods down a hill. I could not see him but Kyle and I heard him fall. Kyle and I were both really excited and at that moment the camera ran out of film. Kyle and I waited 20 minutes then walked down to where the buck was lying. He was a beautiful tall and wide 9 pt and the shot could not have been any cleaner. After this hunt Kyle and I had become good friends and he was no longer nervous around me.
Kyle said a few days later that he wasn’t sure how to act around me at first because I had obviously been through a lot, but after getting to know me I was a really cool guy. I laughed because this is how most people act around me until they get to know me. That night Kyle and I decided to try and call in a coyote. As Kyle worked the rabbit in distress call I scanned the field with my binoculars. Within 20 minutes I spotted a coyote sneaking in toward the call. I took aim and squeezed the trigger, and just like the hog and buck, I now had a coyote. It was the most amazing hunting trip of my life.
The Sportsmen’s Foundation got me to Texas and back with no problems and is in the process of mounting the Boar, Buck, and Coyote. Kyle and the rest of the staff were first class. I learned a lot from them. I cannot put into words how appreciative I am of the foundation for allowing me to carry out one of dreams!
Thank You Sportsmen’s Foundation for Military Families,