DSCN0814[1]Got this from a loyal blog reader, I could not have said it better myself:

Mike: A nice blog for the weekend would be a dedication to the REAL HEROES of our country. The men and women that serve and have served in our Armed Forces are owed well-deserved respect and gratitude from us.

“To those who have fallen, you will never be forgotten,” including those who perished in The Towers on 9/11.

We WOULD NOT be able to pursue our dreams of freedom and hunting if not for the men and women that we honor this weekend. At a minimum, raise a drink during a celebration this weekend and remember our TRUE AMERICAN HEROES.

Also, maybe you could link some legit organizations that could use some help from us (your faithful bloggers) with heroes and hunting.

Well said.

One organization I work with—in fact I just joined its Board of Directors and am honored to do so—is the Virginia-based Veteran’s Outdoor Fund (formerly Outdoor Recreation Heritage Fund). Our sole mission is to provide hunting and fishing opportunities for our veterans and heroes. Any help you can give our group is much appreciated.

Here’s the type of man we take hunting. Letter from a Deer Hunter in Iraq first appeared on the blog in 2011, and we turned the hunt that transpired into one of the most popular episodes ever of BIG DEER TV.

I got a letter from an American hero who at the time was deployed as a critical care nurse in Iraq. In part it read:

“Mike, I would like to share a hunting experience with you. I don’t care where, I really don’t care what we hunt (I have only hunted whitetail and have kind of made a rule, you eat what you kill)… I have seen your show, have heard you speak, and it just seems like you would understand if I told you some of the things I have experienced over here… I would like to present this flag to you when I get home, if we ever get a chance to meet.”

I wrote Zane Keen back and told him I would make it happen, and last week it did. Zane drove up to VA from Fort Bragg in NC, and we hunted for a week at my friend Jack Hazel’s farm in Fauquier County, where I was born and grew up hunting.

Va zane and crew

We saw 20 deer last Monday (no shot) and then got rained on (hard) for 2 days. On Thursday the front cleared, cool high-pressure moved in and Zane shot this 12-pointer. Cool buck, typical 5 on one side and non-typical on the right. Zane and cameraman John made a great move on the ground and got him. You will enjoy the TV show of that hunt.

Three other young heroes and Purple Heart recipients—Shaun, David and Josh—hunted with us for a couple of days, and they all shot deer. It was a grand time and good therapy for all us. All made possible by the (Veteran’s Outdoor Fund) and the incredible generosity of Jack and the others who volunteered their time and money to make it happen.

The best part about this hunt was that Zane, 23 years and counting in the United States Army (Special Forces, combat medic, critical care nurse) turned out to be the man I thought he was the minute I read his letter, and more. Genuine, compassionate, tough, great American, true patriot and now lifelong friend. Good deer hunter, too.

vet honor w zane

In that letter Zane wrote me he had said: I would like to present this flag to you when I get home, if we ever get a chance to meet. He flew that flag for me over the hospital he worked at in Iraq, and where he and the docs lost a few of our young heroes on the table.

I said at the time that receiving that flag would be the ultimate career honor for me. It was, and still is.

To all our veterans past and present, thank you and God bless you.