Nearly a dozen Gold Star and Purple Heart youth from around the country visited Graves County last weekend to build camaraderie and hone their hunting skills.
Youngsters from military families who have lost a parent or had a parent wounded in service to America spent time in Water Valley learning to shoot, hunt and even the basics of processing deer. The weekend also included a catered dinner at Lowry Farms.
Micah Seavers of Beyond Blessed Land Management, Southern Red’s BBQ and Seavers Beavers Wildlife Removal has hosted youth hunts over the past four years, but this past week’s hunt was the first for Gold Star and Purple Heart children.
“It’s something we can give back to them and say thank you to the parents they have and the one who don’t have,” he said.
Youth who participated in the inaugural military service honor hunt were from all across the country, including Illinois, Alabama and Michigan. One participant was from neighboring Marshall County.
For previous hunts, Seavers had hosted children and paid for expanses out of his own pocket. This year, he developed a new non-profit organization and was helped through local donations that covered travel costs for families, food, and even purchased guns for the youth.
The weekend, which began Oct. 8 and ran through Oct. 12, included hunter safety training, range shooting and a Saturday and Sunday hunt.
“Everybody killed one or missed,” Seavers said with a laugh.
“Some kids have been shooting before or hunting, but most had not,” he added. “The majority went to the range and we worked with them so they could safely handle their weapons.”
Following their hunt, the kids were also shown how to process a deer on a small scale. Seavers said his plan for the future is to construct a building on site to allow them to go through the whole processing work.
Offering this experience, he said, teaches them new skills and creates life-long memories.
“It’s to step them out of their comfort zone and give them something extra and a memory and the camaraderie that used to be the deer camp and let them have big time,” Seavers added. “We had kids who wouldn’t talk to other kids before, but by the end of the weekend they were playing tag and board games with each other.”
His goal is also for the youth to return in the summer to work on deer blinds and feeders and learn other outdoor skills.
“We can’t ever repay the sacrifice given for us, but we can sure try and honor their kids as much as possible,” Seavers said.
If anyone is interested in helping the program, contact Seavers at 270-970-4107 or email@example.com.