They each sustained injury in the line of duty while serving as soldiers in the United States Army and in turn face a daily challenge to cope.
But during the first few days of this year’s Missouri firearms deer hunting season, a group of retired “wounded warriors” had the chance to enjoy a feeling of normality when they donned hunters’ orange, picked up rifles and headed out together into some of the best hunting territory in the Show Me State.
The special outing was organized by Pueblo, Colo., resident Greg York, a retired Sgt. First Class who grew up in Raymondville and graduated from Houston High School. Joining York were Sgt. First Class Jeremy Henderson (of Fountain, Colo.), Staff Sgt. Bobby Lisek (of Clever), Staff Sgt. James Vinson (of Fort Campbell, Ky.), Sgt. First Class John Wylie (of Fountain, Colo.), and Sgt. M.L. York (of Seymour).
The hunt took place on land owned by a friend of York’s family, and the group stalked prey for at least part of the first three days of the 11-day season. Before the six veterans parted ways at about noon Nov. 18, each one had met his goal.
“Everybody got one,” York said. “There were no monsters killed, but everybody got meat for their freezer. That’s what they were all wanting; we all talked about it and they said ‘we’re not out here trophy hunting because you can’t eat antlers.’ They were all looking for meat to feed their families with.”
The first two days of this year’s firearms season will be long remembered for their unusually warm temperatures and high winds.
“But just like with everything these guys have done in their military careers, they just stuck it out, drove on and didn’t quit,” York said. “By the end of the day on Sunday, every one of them had taken a deer.”
Prior to heading out on opening day, the group was treated to a complimentary breakfast at Simply Sweets Ice Cream Treats and More in downtown Houston. The group lodged at Golden Hills Trail Rides and Resort in Raymondville, with the bill for that being covered by a VFW post in Penrose, Colo.
“I’ve had a connection with them for about 10 years, and when they heard what I was doing they said they would pay for the motel,” York said.
York also has a connection to the Coleman outdoor gear company, which provided him with sleeping bags, coolers and other gear to give hunt participants. A friend even purchased and donated a video camera so York and company could capture their adventures on video.
York said he would like to help organize similar outings on an annual basis.
“The problem we’re running into is lining up a place to hunt,” he said. “If there is anyone within the Texas County community who would be willing to let a different set of wounded warriors come down for the first weekend of rifle season, we would be grateful. All the guys want to do is get out there and feel normal again.
“That was the one thing that all the guys said this time – that it was nice to get out and not worry about anything or the stuff I’ve gone through. I can just be out here and be normal.”
Anyone wishing to extend an invitation to a set of wounded warriors to hunt deer next year can email York at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’m not trying to do this for any self-serving reason,” York said. “I just want to take these guys hunting. You could see the joy on their faces and how excited they were when they got a deer.
“They were just glad to be enjoying the outdoors again.”
I just want to take these guys hunting. You could see the joy on their faces and how excited they were when they got a deer.”