Every now and then an event has meaning greater than the itself. The Outdoor Buddies pheasant shoot was such an event. For those few hours, pheasant shooting acquired symbolism for the noblest virtue: the selfless joys of helping others and passing the hunting ethic to younger generations. As has been done so many times before, Fiocchi USA donated cases of ammunition to the participants.
Outdoor Buddies is an all-volunteer organization with the mission to provide opportunities for those who have been deprived of enjoying outdoor experiences. It focuses on mobility-disabled people, at-risk youth and youth groups. Outdoor experiences include hunting, fishing, boating, camping, and education in the use of the outdoors for recreational activities.
Outdoor Buddies was co-founded in 1984 by Sid Sellers and Sam Andrews. Sam was Director of Therapeutic Recreation at Craig Hospital, world renowned for brain and spine trauma care and rehabilitation, and Sid was a long-time volunteer Hunter Education Instructor for the Colorado Division of Wildlife and an avid outdoorsman. The organization was created because of a need to find therapeutic recreational opportunities for rehabilitating patients who had suffered spinal cord injuries.
About fifteen youth hunters, twenty disabled participants and a dozen able volunteers congregated at the Drake Land Farms Club about an hour east of Denver. The hunt was orchestrated with symphonic precision by president Larry Sanford and his wife, Penny, the chef of a world-class gumbo served for lunch.
Crates of pheasant were strategically placed on fifty acres of cornfields intersected by dirt roads and bounded by thick stands of pines and hardwoods. The first group of hunters made their way to the northern fields, many in the electric mechanized ‘trekkers’ that moved like a small silent tank division. An effervescent “Let’s get going!” enthusiasm pervaded the group which sported smiles as wide as the Grand Canyon. Splashes of orange vests dotted the landscape like splattered paint on a green brown canvas. Well-trained dogs leaped about like porpoises over the waves. A comment often heard from the disabled participants was “Here I am equal to the able-bodied folks. I can do what they do.”
Thirteen-year-old Luke eloquently captured the event’s value when he answered my question, Why did he attended? “My grandfather took me hunting. Then he had an injury and joined Outdoor Buddies. This is a great way to help people and to be outside, not sitting at home looking at the computer, like so many other people my age. This is fun, and I know I am doing something good.” The pheasants flew high, but our exhilarating spirits were even higher.
Please visit website.. www.outdoorbuddies.org perhaps even make a donation
Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer and writer in Denver, Colorado. See his book The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values. Available at Amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/c5flmmu