The Hunts for Heroes project is a, "by Veterans, for Veterans" grassroots project backed and supported by VFW POST 10406 and Auxiliary based out of Cochrane WI. The project focuses primarily on outdoor recreation, rehabilitation, networking, and socialization within the Veteran community. Through privately funded donations from businesses and individuals, The Hunts for Heroes Project works through several regional project ambassadors who help organize and facilitate annual outdoor recreation opportunities for disabled Veterans.We have teamed up with VFW Post 10406 to further help veterans and support other future projects.
Kyle Bushman - Hunts For Heroes Interview
Well... I just turned thirty this past May, which is hard to believe. I laugh when I think about what that milestone represents. As a kid 30 seemed like 10 lifetimes away... and here we are. 30! I come from a small immediate family, just myself and 1 brother, my business partner Lee. I grew up about a mile from the bursting metropolis of Dodge, WI (Unincorporated) basically in the middle of no-where. I think no-where can be summed up as “Rural Route”. Anyone who grew up in the country will probably get that joke. I currently live in Cochrane Wisconsin. I farm along with my brother Lee full time, work “All the time” for my father, Mike (for his Ag-retail business B&B Agri Sales) and give the remaining bit of time I don’t have to uncle sam, working as an Assistant Operations NCO for the 86th TRNG DIV at Ft. McCoy WI.
Three years ago I was at an NCO school at Ft. Indiantown Gap PA and one morning one of the school house cadre was telling us about a little organization he was part of that basically took guys from WTU (Warrior Transition Units) and organized outdoor events to help get their minds off their rehabilitation. I thought that was an excellent idea/concept. I paired that with a hunting experience I had while on leave before shipping out to Iraq back in the fall of 2004. As luck would have it I happened to make it home during one of the rifle deer seasons, and my long time friend Mike convinced me to take a day and go hunting. I can remember talking to him about it about a week before I came home, I remember him saying “It’ll probably do you some good.” I was 21 years old with 2 semesters of college under my belt and for a lack of a better term “scared shitless” about the next unforeseen year. Anyways to make a long story short, we went out hunting and I shot one of the biggest bucks of my life. The takeaway is during that entire day, during that hunt, I hadn’t thought for one second about what that next year was going to be like hadn’t thought at all about the emotional stress I was going through. It was just... perfect. I was just out their doing something I loved to do. I compare it to the CONTROL ALT DELETE (force shutdown) we have to do from time to time with these stupid computers. For me it was the reboot I needed to get my head on straight.
You can take a handful of Veterans from any military campaign from the past 75 years throw them in a room and within 5 mins the conversation will flow effortlessly. It’s really an uncanny thing. Guys that have been retired for 25 years who probably haven’t spoken a word about their service time to their immediate family, sitting across the table from a 20 year old fresh out of Afghanistan will draw parallels and talk about things that they’ve never talked to anyone else about. At some point and in some way it’s good and healthy to converse about the good, bad, and ugly, and to whom better than someone who has been through a similar experience. On the other hand I don’t know of any possible release better than having an entire morning to sit alone in the woods doing some self reflection. For those reasons I think that is entirely why events like this are important to Veterans.
Just like anything else in life... it gets sooooo busy. So to answer your question we don’t get together enough. Locally in Cochrane we have a fairly active VFW post that holds meetings and Chicken Q’s once a month. When possible it’s always nice to stop in and see those guys.
Just like I had mentioned before the conversations aside from the hunting have been pretty incredible and well worth the effort setting up this event. The hunting as of today has been pretty slow possibly due to the weather and some winter kill from last years long and enduring winter, either way that’s the ebb and flow of hunting. I think thus far we’ve been able to give all but 2 guys the opportunity to harvest a White-Tail and 2 of the guys had a brief, but solid opportunity to harvest a mid 140’s ten pointer. Most of the guys have their minds made up that they are holding out for that buck of a lifetime.
I am a Veteran of OIF3 (Operation Iraqi Freedom III) deployed in 2004-2005. I was part of Charlie Company 1-128th Infantry down trace element of the 32nd “RED ARROW” brigade. Our platoon spent a year in country running basic counter insurgency and stability operations 50 miles North of Baghdad. I enlisted in the WI ARMY NG 26JUN2002. I am still in the U.S. ARMY RESERVES out of Ft. McCoy Wisconsin. After my first year of college I enlisted along with my best friend. Part of the decision was made because of the college assistance, part of it was because it was something I always wanted to do, and I suppose some of it was had to do with being an able bodied male a few months post 9/11. I really can’t come up with one defining reason.
Probably the one big picture positive moment from my deployment I remember was being part of Iraqs first popular/democratic vote. I can remember a few days leading up to the big day, we had spent many mission hauling concrete barriers, securing and checking voting sights for the upcoming election, making sure areas were safe for voters and preparing for the worst. Local nationals were excited but at the same time uneasy about that whole process and kind of skeptical. I can remember plain as day pulling up to the first voting sight with our four humvee convoy and looking at the people cycling through the voting site smiling holding up their ink covered purple thumbs thinking to myself, “this is the first time I think I’ve seen these people excited about their future”. Kids were running around holding up giant propaganda signs screaming “ALLAWI” “ALLAWI” (at the time one of the presidential candidates), flashing the universal “thumbs up” sign for “everything is good”. It’s times like that, that make the terrible experiences somewhat bearable. It’s times like that, that put life in perspective. You stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about “the big picture”. Ironically I remember that day being the quietest day, no gun shots, no explosions, just people looking hopeful.
I can remember shortly after coming home I took an entire month off from life drove out west to Colorado and Wyoming with 4 close friends and skied for a month a straight. When I got home I just hit the ground running, dove right back into college. For me the adjustment wasn’t too bad because I had other things to keep my mind occupied.