Veterans, sponsors hunt for a purpose  

Photo Provided by Kacey Braley

U. S. Navy veteran Mike Sanders and his dog Jace look for pheasants during the 2020 Patriot Pheasant Hunt Jan. 3-5.

Veteran hunters and sponsors spent the weekend at the Pheasants Unlimited Lodge in the Oklahoma Panhandle. While hunting pheasants was the fun part of the weekend, the event also supported a literacy program for Oklahoma children.

Gauges High Outfitters and Cleveland County Veteran Services sponsored the 2020 Patriot Pheasant Hunt Jan. 3-5. At least 25 veterans attended.

Cleveland County Veteran Services Coordinator Mark Braley helped select the veterans and participated in the hunt. Braley is a veteran who served in Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom and was a Norman Police officer for 20 years before taking the county position.

“We are very fortunate to have Mark Braley in this position,” said Cleveland County Commissioner Darry Stacy. “He works closely with veterans to connect them with service providers, but he also becomes a friend and confident for many of the veterans. Events like this hunt, made possible by generous sponsors, cement that relationship in a meaningful way.”

Matt Walker, owner of Gauges High Outfitters, has sponsored six annual pheasant hunts.

“The veterans’ service ranges from Vietnam to Afghanistan and every conflict in between,” Walker said. “The fellowship is as important as, or more so, than the actual hunting. The guys feel that this is a safe place to share their feelings and experiences. They are among family.”

This is one of two hunts sponsored annually, with this hunt benefiting the Kaleo Foundation and a dove hunt in September benefiting various veteran groups. The Kaleo Foundation exists to meet the critical needs of children, relieve hunger and eliminate illiteracy in Oklahoma City. For more information see www.kaleofoundation.org.

Other business sponsors and some individuals paid $700 per person to join veterans on the hunt.

“For every sponsor, a veteran was able to go,” Braley said.

Braley said selecting the veterans is tough, and more sponsors are always needed.

“There are so many worthy veterans and only so many spots,” Braley said. “I use my connections with local military leaders and veteran groups to identify soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen, both active and retired, who could benefit from this program.”

To sponsor or attend one a future hunt, contact Walker on Facebook at Gauges High or gaugeshigh.com.

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