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Veterans hunt delivers much-needed camaraderie
team photo3
From left: Mike Walker, Drew Rogers, Nate Burgess, Allen Hill, Joshua Cousins, Travis Koochel, Josh Feinburg, Casey Newstead and Kyle Hicks.

BARTON COUNTY — The Wounded Warriors Pheasant Hunt started as a way to thank veterans for their service by Crosby’s Wildgame Adventures and members and sponsors of Pheasants Forever Chapter No. 504 of Barton and Stafford counties.
It’s developed into fellowship and re-connection for Wounded Warriors members in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Josh Feinburg of Newkirk, Okla., said the weekend is a dream come true for recent veterans who have served since 9-11. They achieved success with dozens of pheasants shot over the weekend.
“When they are here, they realize they are around brothers,” he said. “Guys served in different places, but there is a camaraderie. When we get together, no one is hurt or thinking about the past. This is a break away from everything. You are networking with guys and learning new things.”
The Pheasants Forever Wounded Warrior Pheasant Hunt is staged at Crosby’s Wildgame Adventures west of Great Bend.  Pheasants Forever co-chairs are Lynn Peterson and Charlie Swank.
“This was a way our chapter members and sponsors could give back to those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom,” said Scot Moeder, Pheasants Forever president. “We get Wounded Warriors together and treat them like kings for the weekend.”
Troy Brin, Wounded Warrior manager from Kansas City, Mo., selects the Wounded Warriors. The regional chapter has 1,700 members in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The Wounded Warriors Project operates 22 offices and features 66,000 members.
“This is a popular event that everyone wants to be a part of,” Brin said. “We bring in nine new Wounded Warriors in every year, several who are peer mentors who are further along in their recovery process. They can give back to someone else. They develop trust working with other Wounded Warriors who learn about programs and services. We find people who need assistance. It is a privilege to be part of this weekend.”
The Wounded Warriors have served military duty and many have sustained injuries during their service. Many have battled adjustment to civilian life from military life.
“When we get the Wounded Warriors together, this is when the healing begins because they reconnect with a population they served with,” Brin said. “They tell old stories and realize they are not alone with their feelings and experiences. Our biggest fear is having someone alone isolated in their home.
“There are physical wounds or traumatic brain injuries,” he said. “There is someone else just like them. There may be a female Warrior who is sexual trauma survivor and there is anxiety and depression involved with that. They understand they are not alone.”
Josh Feinburg of Newkirk, Okla. serves a security guard for Covenant Security Services. But he’s well connected with Barton County with relatives who own and operate Rainbow Trucking, Mustang Machine and Eagle Tire.
Feinburg assists with Wounded Warriors with limited shooting experience. Several have never shot a shotgun and some have not hunted for birds before. The Wounded Warriors utilize pump, semi automatic; and over-under shotguns.
“Shooting in the military is totally different than being behind a shotgun,” he said. “You give them insight what they can shoot. We shoot clays to get them familiar with the type of gun they are shooting with. We want them to feel comfortable.
Kyle Hicks of Overland Park served in the Marine Corps in Iraq. The contract security officer in Kansas City, Mo. was cautious when he was first approached by Wounded Warriors.
“Wounded Warriors reached out to me and I appreciated some help,” Hicks said. “It was a huge part of my recovery to relate to other Veterans and see how their lives were progressing. I had a transition from the Marine Corps to married life with two children. They never tell you how to build a relationship with a significant other. You hit the ground running.. But a lot of people fall and stumble at that point.”
Hicks volunteers as a peer counselor who mentors several Wounded Warriors. He’s gone through training to help Wounded Warriors who may be having hard times.
“Sometimes, they need someone to listen to and talk to,” Hicks said. ““Everyone is in different stages of recovery. Sometimes guys will open up more than they will to their friends or families. We want people to get help and give them a hand if they need it. When they asked me, I knew I’d love to be a part of this. and empower other Warriors. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
Feinburg said he appreciates the support of Lance Crosby, Scot Moeder and assistance from local sponsors and the Pheasant Forever chapter.
“It’s a blessing to talk with them. and they think it’s awesome to help out,” Feinburg said. “This is their way of giving back to us who served in the military.  They are grateful to have the guys out in the middle of nowhere having a blast. They want to give the guys a break from the monotony of life. They want to make sure the guys enjoy themselves.”
The Warriors are housed at Lance Crosby’s lodge and shoot trap for practice and pheasant during the weekend accompanied by well-trained dogs. Hunting is weaved with practice shooting and well-prepared meals by Lynn Peterson and Charlie Swank.  
As a special treat, the birds are cleaned and prepared for transport back home.
“Our members really try to make these guys comfortable, feel special and have a great time,” Moeder said. “We couldn’t make this event possible without the help of our local generous sponsors! A special thank you to all of them.”