Ben Cole 10.30.18
There has always been a deep found respect within me for all of the men and women who selflessly serve our country, whether past, present or future. Recently Garrett Lassiter and I of Black River Outdoors made our way to south Arkansas to participate in a veteran hunting event that was hosted by the Arkansas Game and Fish as well as Freedom Defender Outdoors. Not to mention the scent elimination and synthetic attractant supplied by Lock Down Outdoors.
Freedom Defender Outdoors is an organization comprised of current serving and veterans from all branches of the military. Their main goal is to provide outstanding hunting and fishing opportunities for all service men and women, despite their branch. Jarred Cartwright, founder of Freedom Defender Outdoors, is a guy who has a huge heart and truly loves helping other military veterans.
We arrived a little early, which gave us time to regroup after a three hour drive and introduced ourselves to some outstanding Vets such as Justin Bowie, who was a former Marine and Ken Gillmore who was a Sargent Major. However there was a bond between Tony Turner and Trent Pettis that was brotherly. With everyone standing around talking I couldn’t help but notice the anticipation of everyone involved. Fourtently enough, I had the honor of accompanying Trent Pettis for both days of the hunt. Trent, was in the Navy and is the type of guy who is a natural leader as well as genuinely cares about others, especially other Veterans. Shortly after settling into the stand for the evening we began talking about hunting stories from past trips as well as what it’s actually like to serve this great country we call home. After listening to these stories, I have to say that I am humbled and forever greatful for the sacrifices made and currently being made to keep us free.
It wasn’t long before a mature doe stepped out to grab a bite, but didn’t stay long. After some time had passed she reentered the field to graze again and did so for quite some time. Although meat in the freezer was very tempting, the thought of a mature buck walking out just before dark gave her the pass. With daylight dwendling, a young buck was spotted milking around in some thick brush on the North end of the food plot; however I didn’t notice the 4 1/2 year old buck making its presence known just to the right of this youngster. Trent said, “there’s he is” and I quickly panned over to capture this magnificent deer on camera. Each step closer made our hearts pound harder, and made me realize my hands were too shaky to touch the camera arm much. As expected, Trent made an excellent shot which resulted in the harvest of this mature buck.
As our time together drew to an end the friendships grew stronger. I have to say that Jarred Cartwright of Freedom Defender Outdoors has done an outstanding job and has impacted the lives of so many veterans, in fact this hunt impacted my life in a way that will never be forgotten. As for all of us at Black River Outdoors we not only appreciate your service but we’re honored to hunt with each of you.