Veterans w/ Impact Hunt at Honey Creek
Updated: Jan 13, 2019
By: Matt Oberembt
On Friday November 16, 2018 the barricades went up, and Honey Creek State Park closed for the weekend! Volunteers worked diligently to set up the blinds, adaptive equipment, and everything else needed in preparation for the next 2 days.
At the same time across the lake, volunteers and Veterans were starting to trickle in to the resort. Smiles were abundant as old friends caught up and new friendships began. Each Veteran and volunteer received their room keys, a welcome bag, and some awesome swag before getting settled in for the weekend. By 2:00 that afternoon everyone had arrived. There was a steady sound of laughter and conversation throughout the space while excitement and anticipation radiated throughout the hotel.
At 5:00 that evening, C.J. Hughes of the Iowa DNR gathered all Veterans and volunteers for a quick and informative safety meeting. C.J. explained the layout of the park, blind locations, and all other pertinent information we would need to have a safe and successful hunt over the next 2 days. Once we completed the safety meeting the tags were purchased with money collected by our volunteers (enough to cover 2 tags for each Veteran) in a hat on the spot. We were finally ready to formally kick off our highly anticipated weekend!
At 6:00 pm that Friday, the crew gathered in the resort lobby to head toward Albia for dinner at Bogies Steakhouse. As anyone that has had the pleasure of eating there will tell you, there is no detail missed and we were treated like royalty from the time we hit city limits until we left to head back to the Resort. Local law enforcement and Patriot Guard riders escorted our group into town and into the restaurant. As we ate enough to feed the population of Albia, locals took notice of our group in the back corner of the establishment. In true small town fashion, multiple patrons heard what we were up to, and covered a large portion of our evening’s meal (thank you to all of those individuals!). After dinner it was back to the resort for a few short hours of socializing and restless sleep as everyone excitedly anticipated the next morning's adventures.
5:00 am came quickly. We met for a delicious and short breakfast downstairs where laughter and conversation were available in mass. There was definitely a difference in everyone's mood from the meal the night before. The morning's nourishment was downed in a rush and everyone quickly filed out the door. The state park entrance holds a DNR shop and office and we met there to be assigned our hunting partners and blind location by Kim Heeran for the morning hunt.
We headed into the incredibly scenic Honey Creek State Park. Everyone was set in their blinds shortly after sunrise and it was go time! Less than an hour later the deer started piling up! One of our Veterans shot the first ever deer in the park! The thunder of shotguns, the echo of congratulations, the ringing laughter - those were just a few of the many sounds of a TRUE IMPACT that were heard that morning throughout the park!
We had a short lunch break with food from Appanoose County Veterans Affairs and The Homestead in Centerville, and everyone was once again chomping at the bit to get back to the blinds for their afternoon hunt. The snow had started falling by then and was beginning to pile up. This November blessing came with a few added benefits. Not only did it make for a beautiful, scenic hunt, it also helped one of our seeing impaired Veterans make out a deer against the white background, aiding in his harvest.
By Saturday evening the majority of the hunters had harvested at least one deer. As the sun set, we headed back to the shop and prepared for our fun evening activities.
Dinner Saturday night was donated and served by The Dallas County Cattlemen and Hick Catering. The meal was nothing short of exceptional and really hit the spot after a long day in the cold. The homemade pies and brownies topped off the wonderful meal. After dinner came the fun! Every Veteran took home at least one prize from our raffle and trophies and awards were given out that resulted in many smiles and laughs with each announcement.
After a couple hours of great food and endless laughter, we headed back to Honey Creek. Social hour continued at the resort watering hole late into the night before we all headed to our rooms to sleep in anticipation of the next morning's hunt.
Sunday morning we were back at it. With the great snow cover the hunting was exceptional! More deer were hitting the ground by the minute. These Veterans had settled into their groove and were taking no prisoners!
Noon rolled around and we called it a hunt. The remaining Veterans headed back to the shop with their harvests to have their final deer processed and packed in coolers for them to take home.
There were more success stories, break throughs, and first time experiences than can be counted at this hunt. A few that stand out for me and will forever be in my mind and heart are Bob's first deer harvest, Eldon's first deer harvest being completely blind, and the fact that these heroes were able to do all this as the first hunters in the history of Honey Creek State Park.
The Veterans w/ Impact Hunt at Honey Creek State Park has officially been approved for 2019 with an allowance for even more Veterans to be able to hunt this year. TIO and our partners are already working daily to make sure this year is bigger and better than last year. If you would like to be a part of this year’s hunt, contact me for more information.
-Together Strong, Together Unbroken