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first birds

Beau, at left, and Mili Waugh of Decatur show off their first pheasants, which they got at the Nov. 23-24 veterans hunt at Prairie Creek Hunting Preserve.

On the last sunny and warm weekend of November, veterans and their children went pheasant hunting. Some of them nabbed their first birds — including a Georgia Marine on leave.

Organizers Charlie Chapman and Tyson Trunkhill, veterans of the Iowa Army National Guard who served in Iraq, thought up the idea of a veterans hunt and over a month’s time pulled it together. Chapman said with the contacts they’ve gotten this first time, next year’s hunt surely will draw more than the 46 veterans and children of veterans that made it this year.

“We had such a great time this year, we are going to do it every year,” they said in a Facebook post.

Chapman said they hosted a lot of new hunters and a lot of new dogs.

The hunt was held at the 360-acre Prairie Creek Hunting Preserve, southwest of Maynard.

For the two-day event, organizers put out 140 birds, 60 percent of were bagged in the hunt. Five hunters got their first pheasant kills, Chapman said, including Evan Isaacs of Georgia, who was using his leave from overseas deployment to just hunt.

This was just one of his stops.

Of the 46 hunters, the rest came from around Iowa and Minnesota, Chapman said.

In addition to trying to have a special event for veterans, the hunt was also raised funds for Retrieving Freedom, which trains service dogs for wounded veterans and children with autism “to allow a new degree of independence in their partner’s lives,” it says on its Facebook page.

The event raise enough to cover veterinarian expenses for one dog for one year, Chapman said.

Admission to the hunt was $50 apiece, and Chapman and Trunkhill recruited sponsors, including Lumber Ridge, Ken’s Electric, Oelwein Dental Associates, Flint Hills Resources, Casey’s General Store of Oelwein, Sticks & Stones Archery, Scheels, Peacekeeper Defense and Titan Machinery.