The count down is on until the 2020 Bucks for the Brave Heroes Hunt in Batesville, Texas! In case this is your first time hearing about Bucks for the Brave, make sure to check out one of our previous articles to learn more about what Sportsman’s Choice® brand of wildlife feeds, otherwise known as Record Rack®, is doing to support veterans across the nation. This year’s hunt takes place November 11-15, 2020 at Trinity Oaks Thumbtack Ranch, where 8 heroes made up of Veterans, and Retired First Responders will enjoy five days of hunting, comradery, and appearances from a range of special guests.
We wanted to focus this article on the reflections of those who have experienced Bucks for the Brave and all the magic that it entails. Last year, we had eight heroes from across the country that flew into San Antonio, all unexpecting the friendships that would come out of their trip. The magic is hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it, so let’s read about how our heroes feel about their trip.
2019 Bucks for the Brave Winners
Greg Manning – Marine Corps Veteran, Purple Heart Recipient, Retired Law Enforcement
Other than my retirement party, the Bucks for the Brave Hunt was the most humbling experience I have ever experienced. The treatment, the respect, and the friendships that I made during that trip could never be experienced anywhere else. Our accommodations were a 10 plus but the friendships and the way I was treated was tenfold. That weekend is a memory that I will never forget and I honestly believe I made 40 new lifetime friends. This is the kind of thing that you can only fully understand if you’re lucky enough to attend this event, and I’m forever grateful that I was chosen.
My final note is, God Bless the people who put this on, I cannot wait to see those people, wherever it may be, to give them a hug and tell them how much they mean to me, and how much I appreciate everything they did. God bless them, and God love them.
Brad Trogdon – Navy Veteran
The word of the week for me was “Overwhelming”. By definition, it is “very great in amount” but the feelings kept coming and coming and the people I encountered became family within minutes of fellowship. In August of 2019, I received a phone call that I was selected to go to Thumbtack Ranch as the Navy veteran winner of the Sportsman’s Choice Feed Record Rack Bucks for the Brave hunt of a lifetime. The generosity of so many people made this event above what I could ever imagine from outfitting all 7 of us with brand new, rip the tags off and wear it out the store Wrangler jeans, button-down shirt, belt, Resistol hat, Ariat boots, and the vast amount of camouflage donated by veteran-owned businesses and big names in the outdoor world. I’ve been deer hunting for a long time and these were absolute monster bucks we got to see. I’ve never seen exotic animals in real life outside the zoo and the first time I saw a Nilgai, my jaw dropped. Being in the stand and chatting with my guide, a volunteer to help spot, and the camera crew I was able to decompress in a way I never have. I made life-long friends and memories I will never forget.
As far as the schedule it was an outdoorsman’s dream come true. The first night we sighted in our rifles and of course, there was friendly bantering and picking between branches but afterward, we sat by the fire to live country music and that ritual continued every night. Every morning we got in the stand before the feeders went off and watched the hogs and deer come in. We would eat the best breakfast with biscuits n’ gravy, bacon, chicken fried bacon, eggs, and anything else you could think of. We’d take pictures with our harvest and tell stories, then they had events planned throughout the day until it was time to go back out. The biggest surprise was our second day there where we had Don Trump Jr. come talk to us and shake hands. This was a truly humbling experience. The great part about our harvest was Trinity Oaks donated the meat to families in need in South Texas so nothing went to waste.
After the trip, it kept going. Not long after leaving, I was still in contact with my guide and a few others by phone and more via social media. The trophies we harvested were European mounted and shoulder-mounted for us to remember our times at the ranch. The contact we still have is more than a quick, “Hey hope ya’ll are well,” my guide and I have an ongoing archery competition, we video each other shooting and calling shots and the other has to match. I’m working with the Sportsman’s Choice team to try and give back via volunteer work or trying to help raise awareness and capital for their gala so more veterans can get out there and enjoy this time in the outdoors. I can honestly say this was the most relaxing, fun-filled, and humbling trip of a lifetime and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have gone.
Patrick Russell – Army Veteran: Purple Heart & Bronze Star Recipient
When I was medically retired in October 2018, I felt lost and without purpose; as though I didn’t matter anymore. I found new purpose in serving others, and I dedicated everything I have to serving. That’s what got me nominated for the Bucks for the Brave, but didn’t think I was worthy enough to be chosen. These “few” sentences are to say this, I had no idea how badly I needed that weekend – how badly I needed someone to take the weight off, if only for a brief time. If everyone could be half as kind and loving as these folks are, the world would be so much brighter. My only wish now is to pay it forward, and have maybe a fraction of the impact.
For more information on how to get involved or nominate your own hero, make sure to visit Record Rack’s website. It is our hope that by nominating your heroes and learning about the stories of others nominated, we can make a small difference in these men’s and women’s lives. To read the stories about this year’s nominated heroes, check out this link. Join us in our mission of nominating 500 veteran and retired first responders, we can only do it with YOUR help.
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